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Gusau Cargo Airport absurd, inconceivable – Shinkafi to Gov Lawal

A former governorship candidate in Zamfara State and All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, ex-national Secretary, Dr Sani Abdullahi Shinkafi, has slammed the Governor of the State, Dauda Lawal over the recent award of contract for the construction of a cargo airport in the state.

He accused the governor of misleading the Minister of Aviation, Festus Keyamo to repeat a flag-off of the construction of Gusau International Cargo Airport, a project, according to him, former governor Bello Matawalle flagged off 4 years ago.

He further claimed that the re-awarding of the contract for the sum of N62.8bn by the Governor was too exorbitant, making it one of the most costly airports in the country.

Shinkafi said this in a statement he signed on behalf of the Patriot for Advancement of Peace and Social Development.

Shinkafi, who served as a former aide to ex-Governor Matawalle, wondered why the state should be embarking on such a resource sapping project at a time when it was under the siege of bandits and required security and social amenities.

“It has become necessary to put the record straight on the Gusau International Cargo Airport, Zamfara State which Governor Dauda Lawal recently invited the Minister of Aviation, Festus Keyamo to re-flag off construction that would gulp N62.8bn and used the occasion for his usual political propaganda aimed at disparaging his predecessors in office.

“It is pertinent to note that government is a continuum, a relay race in which an elected leader completes his tenure and hands over baton to his successor for sustainable development of the state. It is the essence of electoral governance.

“It is on record that former Governor Mahmud Aliyu Shinkafi (2007 – 2011), initiated the construction of Gusau International Cargo Airport in 2008 and paid compensation to farmers for the land acquired for the project. Shinkafi could not commence construction before he left office.

“Governor Abdul’aziz Abubakar Yari (2011 – 2019), came on board but could not do much to execute the project as his government tackled other crucial issues in the state.

“When Dr Bello Matawalle assumed office on 29th May 2019, he considered the Gusau International Cargo Airport a legacy project for the rejuvenation of socio-economic development of Zamfara State.

“Matawalle awarded the contract for the construction of the airport to AVIC International Engineering Limited at the modest sum of N11,444,056,018.07 (Eleven billion, five hundred and fifty-one million, eight hundred and ninety-nine thousand, one hundred and twenty-three naira only).

“Government paid 30% mobilization, N3,465,567,736.90 (Three billion, four hundred and sixty-five million, five hundred and sixty-nine thousand, seven hundred and thirty-nine naira, ninety kobo only) to the company to commence work at the site.

“As work progressed, considering COVID-19 lockdown that disrupted movement, business and construction, additional 20% contract sum was paid to AVIC International Engineering Limited which amounted to M2,310,379,824.60 (Two billion, three hundred and ten thousand, three hundred and seventy-nine thousand, eight hundred and twenty-four naira, sixty kobo only).

“A total sum of N5, 775,949,561.50 (Five billion, seven hundred and seventy-five million, nine hundred and forty-nine thousand, five hundred and sixty-one naira, fifty kobo only), was paid by then Governor Bello Matawalle’s administration for the project.

“AVIC International Engineering Limited had started the construction of the access road to the airport, the Airport Gate, Terminal building, Fire Service Station, underground drainage, construction of 2.5km runway etc, before Matawalle left office in May 2023.

“From the above, Bello Matawalle’s administration awarded the airport contract for the sum of N11,446,056,018.08 and paid the contractor the sum of N5,775,949,561.50.

“It is very glaring that Governor Dauda Lawal was economical with the truth when he alleged that Matawalle earmarked N13.3bn for the construction of the Airport Terminal building and expended N6.3bn, and nothing to show for it during the recent re-flag off construction of the airport project.

“It is disheartening that Lawal would toy with the intelligence of the good people of Zamfara State and deliberately misled the Minister of Aviation, Festus Keyamo who he invited to re-flag off the project that previous governors of the state started.

“In a show of might and impunity, Lawal revoked the contract awarded to AVIC International Engineering Limited. The company approached the Federal High Court Abuja to seek redress in Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/1188/2023, between AVIC International Engineering Nigeria Limited and Zamfara State Government, Attorney General of Zamfara State, Ministry of Works and Transport Zamfara State, Ministry of Housing and Urban Development Zamfara State, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), filed on 28th August 2023.

“Aware that the matter was in court, Governor Lawal brazenly re-awarded the airport project to the staggering tune of N62.8bn, about 600% increase compared with the N11.5bn sum awarded to AVIC International Engineering Limited by Bello Matawalle’s administration.

“Since governance is a continuum, the people of Zamfara State expected Dauda Lawal to continue with the airport project as his predecessors did from 2008 – 2023, and invite the Minister of Aviation or another national leader to commission it, instead of wasting taxpayers’ money on a jamboree called re-flag off construction of Gusau International Cargo Airport.

“The funds he wasted on this ill-conceived jamboree should have been redirected for the maintenance and rehabilitation of Gusau Water Board etc.

“Governance is not showmanship, it is prudent management of scarce resources to provide security, social amenities and improve the people’s standards of living who have suffered many bandits’ attacks.

“It is absurd, inconceivable and preposterous that an ongoing project would be revoked and re-awarded for a whopping N62.8bn, thus making it one of the most expensive airports in Nigeria compared with the Ogun State Cargo International Airport N40bn, Lafia Airport, Nasarawa State N40bn (uncompleted), Wachakal Airport, Damaturu, Yobe State N18bn, Dutse International

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