Ex-Bayelsa Governor, Dickson, aide argues over debt in leaked audio

 

Former governor of Bayelsa state, Seriake Dickson engaged his former Commissioner for Land, Furiebi Akene in a heated debate over a publication by the latter titled Bayelsa Rising Debt Burden, which the former governor considered offensive, especially as it suggested that the state’s debt rose astronomically during his administration.

In a 20-minute recorded phone call initiated by the governor, Dickson accused his former aide of writing the article out of bitterness and malice, but Akene insisted that he only published facts from a document released by the Debt Management Office (DMO).

The ex-governor said the debt burden referred to in the document represented the total accumulated liabilities, including money owed to contractors, unpaid salaries and gratuities, and not loans taken by the government, as Akene allegedly implied.

Dickson said: “States like Lagos that are getting the IGR of N50 billion, that are owing almost a trillion, nobody is even talking (about them). The only debt I incurred is for the airport. So, the airport is not important at all?”

But Akene responded: “The projects in these states cannot be compared to us. I didn’t say the airport is not important. But the projects they have in those states… Bayelsa has only Yenagoa; all these states we are talking about have a lot of major cities that consume projects and they are going on.

“Rivers State is doing four flyovers at the same time. If I tell you the cost of a multiple flyover, like the Etegwe roundabout, is supposed to be a multiple flyover and not a straight flyover that is required. I can tell you the real cost of things. I am a consultant. In Abuja, I consult for some agencies and some companies.”

Dickson expressed surprise that Akene used “your village” to refer to Bayelsa and “your forest capital” to refer to Yenagoa.

He also accused the former aide of using “a virgin place that they went to put a state and a capital with the terrain we have” to refer to Bayelsa and its capital.

Akene resigned his appointment at the build-up to the 2015 governorship election during Dickson’s first term in office and went back to his private practice.

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