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Diri dares Buhari on open grazing, speaks on ‘discount deal’

Gov. Douye Diri of Bayelsa State
The Bayelsa Government on Saturday, said its ban on open grazing backed by law has come to stay despite reports that President Muhammadu Buhari has reinstated grazing routes across the country.

The State’s Governor, Duoye Diri,
in a broadcast to commemorate the 2021 Democracy Day, monitored in Yenagoa, insisted that the reported pronouncement by President Buhari was not applicable to the state.

The state government last week seized some 34 cows for breaching the state’s ban on open grazing and pledged to enforce the laws to the

The Governor also said that it discounted the N38 billion refunds for federal projects and received N27bn which has been ploughed back into infrastructure projects across the state.

He explained that the N38 billion due the state was ‘promissory notes’ and not cash and was redeemed based on experts’ advice.

The explanation is coming amidst concerns that the difference between N38 billion and N27 billion amounting to about N11 billion was a shortchange.

Promissory notes and bonds are debt instruments, which one party promises in writing to pay a determinate sum of money to the other, either at a fixed or determinable future time, under specific terms and redeemable before maturity at a discount.

It would be recalled that the Senate had, on November 24, 2020, approved promissory notes and bond issuance worth N148.1bn as refunds to Bayelsa, Rivers, Cross River, Osun and Ondo States, for executing federal projects.

A breakdown of the refunds showed that Bayelsa got N38.4bn, Cross River N18.4bn, Ondo State N7.8bn, Osun N 4.5bn and Rivers N78.9bn.

Diri further clarified that the state government entered the discount deal with due diligence after consulting economic experts who advised that for the state to get the full value of the debt it has to wait for the four year maturity date of the instrument or discount it at market rates.

“The governors of the benefiting states met and it was obvious that it made sense to accept the discount option because some second term governors cannot have access to the money when they have left office.

“Also given the unpredictable inflation and foriegn exchange rates, it made sense to go for the discount option and I want to assure the people of Bayelsa that the decision was taken in the interest of the public.

“We got that money sometime in December 2020 and deployed it to work on the Yenagoa-Oporoma road which will connect headquarters of Southern Ijaw Local Government Area by road, work is advancing at an impressive pace.

“The Glory Land Drive road, the AIT-Igbogene, Sagbama-Ekeremor road and so many projects that the previous administration could not complete are receiving attention and the people are free to go and see what we are doing with the refunds,” Diri said.

On the commencement of scheduled commercial flights to the recently licenced Bayelsa Airport, the governor said that plans have been concluded with United Nigeria Airlines to start flight operations to and from Bayelsa from July.

He said that the state held talks with Ibom Air and the airline requested guarantees that the state government indemnify it for empty seats until passenger traffic grows but the aircrafts have a capacity for 90.

He said that as a prudent administration, considering the cost of empty seats in a 90 passenger capacity aircraft the government got United Nigeria Airline which operates smaller planes with 50 passenger capacity.

“Our earlier plan was to start with Ibom Air and we opened discussions with my brother, Governor of Akwa Ibom during our recent retreat in Uyo and he agreed. We immediately set up a committee to work out the details.

“The Committee found that we need to defray the cost of unoccupied seats as a new airport and we found the cost too high for the capacity of aircrafts operated by Ibom Air so we had to look for airlines that operate smaller capacity aircrafts.

“I can confidently say the scheduled flights will start at our airport in July. Arrangements have been concluded following the presentation of certification documents for daytime flight operations by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority.

“The reason for the clause for daylight is because the runway lights for night operations are yet to be installed as at the time they inspected and as soon as the lights are installed the airport can handle night operations as well,” Diri said.

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