EXCLUSIVE: Audio evidence shows Bayelsa Govt lied over cost of new Governor’s office

Seriake Dickson

The Bayelsa State government lied in its claim that its officials never announced N33.8billion as cost of a new expansive office being built for the state governor, Seriake Dickson, PREMIUM TIMES can authoritatively report today.

The state Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Lawrence Erujakpor, had told journalists that the new governor’s office, which he described as the best in Nigeria and West Africa, would cost tax-payers a whopping N33.8 billion.

Several media outlets, including Daily Independent and ThisDay newspapers, reported Mr. Erujakpor’s comment.

But apparently embarrassed by the commissioner’s disclosure, which portrayed the administration as a wasteful and insensitive government spending N33.8 billion on a luxurious office for its governor in a state where poverty and disease are widespread, the state government promptly issued a statement saying Mr. Erujakpo was misquoted.

In the statement, Daniel Iworiso-Markson, the spokesperson to Governor Dickson described the publications “as a misrepresentation of facts and an attempt to tarnish the good image and the support enjoyed by the present administration in the State”.

Apart from lambasting the media for misrepresenting the commissioner, the governor’s spokesperson also claimed that contrary to the N33.8billion contract sum attributed to the commissioner for works, the state was spending a mere N3.8 billion on the project.

But an audio clip of the interview obtained by PREMIUM TIMES has the commissioner on record as he made desperate attempts to justify the outrageous cost of the project.

He advanced several reasons for the exorbitant cost of the project in a state where citizens lack potable water to drink, and where a palatial Government House, with a presidential lounge, already exists.

A transcript of the audio clip reads:

“Well that contract sum is 33.8 billion, that is the contract sum and when you go there you will know that the cost is worthwhile.

“But in terms of how much has gone in there I don’t know how much but I know we have sunk about 50 to 60 percent of the contract sum and that is why you see that the contract is at the stage where it is now.

“When you get there you see that they are doing the finishing which is electrical and fittings and everything you see there, the ACs (airconditioners), when we go in to the exco chamber you will see that the ACs are already there.

“So I can promise you that as soon as we give them the additional money which we have promised to give to them in the next one or two weeks. We are targeting December thinking that the governor will celebrate the Christmas in his new office. Everything being equal, that is our target but you know man proposes and god disposes but all things being equal, we should be able to achieve that.

“… I can assure you that the money we have sunk there is worth it. You need to know what was done there before we got to this stage we are. We sand-filled almost two metres from the ground and you can see that even despite that filling, water is still threatening the area and what we have just discussed with the contractor is to do a concrete reinforcement of about three to five meters away from the building towards the river side and if you go there you will see the quality of work.

“The aesthetic and the movement and the flow within the office is (sic) unique. And like I keep saying, this our governor office is one in Nigeria, and to some extent, one in West Africa because I don’t know of any governor’s office that will be like this in the whole of West Africa.”

But a day after Mr. Erujakpor’s comment was reported, the state government denied that he ever made such a statement and lambasted the media for not crosschecking their facts before publishing.

It also accused the media of feeding “unsuspecting public with tissues of lies”.

Mr. Iworiso-Markson could not be reached Thursday to comment on the audio clip at our disposal, which put a lie to his claims. He did not answer or return calls to his mobile telephone. He also did not respond to a text message sent to him.

The Commissioner, Mr. Erujakpor, too could not be reached to explain whether he agreed with his government’s denial of a comment he indeed made. He did not return calls neither did he respond to a text message sent to him.

But reacting to the incident, a Yenagoa-based reporter, who asked not to be named for fears he might be attacked by loyalists of the state government, told PREMIUM TIMES the incident is a “clear case of how the administration is diverting public funds in the name of development”.

“On the surface, it appears to be just a slip of tongue by the talkative commissioner but when you listen carefully to his defence in the interview you find out that the lower figures being bandied was an afterthought.

“The CPS did a very shoddy job in the denial making no reference to the available records of the interview and neither providing proof to fault the figures earlier defended by the commissioner.

“Rather than bury his head in shame at his crass incompetence in managing the crisis, Iworiso-Markson should indeed apologize to the individuals and media organizations he attacked in the ill-advised statement that is not supported by fact.

“It suddenly dawned on them that N33.8 billion is too much following outcry on social media, but come to think of it, what is the justification in spending public funds on a new governor’s office when the people cannot have access to potable water.

“Something is definitely wrong with the way the ruling class sets its priorities and it has become evident that these so called projects are indeed avenues to siphon public funds,” he said.


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  • Izon

    Bayelsa State requests the right to spend its money the way it sees fit please. Development is a function of choice. Our choice at this time is to have a befitting Government House not schools, hospitals, or roads etc. Please leave us alone. Indeed Nigeria owes us, we do not owe you people. We produce our oil, Nigeria must be grateful please and stop intruding in our internal state affairs.

    • True son of the soil

      Goodluck to you

    • Maria

      So, why are they denying what they said?

    • anonimous

      even if the governor is your blood brother or he shares all his loot with you, you should not have said this because you just embarrassed yourself publicly.

    • Enemona

      You ‘produce’ oil.

    • Mark Nsikan

      the only person that is angry dsnt undastnd the satire in ur comment….i c dat….

    • Mosaku 147

      E yaaaa. I pity you. So people like you still dey exist? Sorry oo. You can drink ‘your oil’ direct from the pipeline for all I care.

    • Taiwo

      A true Izon (Ijaw0 man.

    • Taiwo

      A true Izon (Ijaw) man.

    • Walesz

      Unfortunate, just unbelievable that somebody would actually articulate a thought such as this! Incredible stuff

  • Ashibogu

    Na so dem talk for Liberia and Seira Leone. Now, Ebola don hook them dem dey call America every second to come save them. Make una know say Oil go finish one day. Oyibo don dey perfect Electric car. Una see say Oil price don dey drop like Udara fruit for harmattan. Boma Erekosima say dem tell Rat make e no chop Elephant kanda e no hear word not knowing say na im teeth dem dey try to protect! Me I don carry waka!

    • koko

      wetin you caryy waka? i hope say no be part of the loot o! Lol

  • clairvoyance

    Lawrence and Dickson nah thief them be crook, Premium times if u need evidence to nail those thieves in government contact me cos I get them plenty, ijaws are natural thieves it is in their blood they like enjoyment, from fake airport 2 road n estate construction, all are conduit pipes use in stealing Bayelsa dry. That state is cursed.

  • Emeka

    A people deserve the government it gets. Shame on all of us for ruining this country. Shame on us for being sentimental, based on tribe, religion and fancy name, in our choice of leaders. I hope we leave something for the generations unborn. I hope they dont abuse and curse us all in our graves for ruining everything for them.

    • Mosaku 147

      Thank you Emeka. Shame on all of us for steering at the truth in the face,but yet choosing to look the other way.May God help Nigeria.

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    • tijan kabba

      see what this government has reduced Nigerian to, tis one wants to scam the people on here

  • Wähala

    Jonathan’s handpicked man, a thief as Governor…
    The entire unnecessary project probably costs N3.8bn but they inflated it to pocket N30bn…
    Since the NNPC came under forensic exams, desperado Dumbo has been scamming his way via his stooges…
    This one at least can’t be blamed on Northerners who stole their oyel revenue for 38yrs, this is home-brew thus, legit…
    This, in a state where the only bridge linking riverine communities, The Goodluck Jonathan Bridge, collapsed since June, 2012, and has not been raised or replaced. Where the oldest secondary school was washed away by the same floods yet, no Aborigine Chief thought it wise to insist it be renovated… No drinking water, no electricity, no roads, no ponds to fish in due to pollution: nada is nix is nothing-nothing! Yet, their mega-mugu is gulping ogogoro wearing pyjamas with a fake fedora in Abuja while their children get killed in Dubai partying into extra-time. I reiterate, unless Nigerians gather these cross-bred animals on their canoes and shoo them off to Papua New Guinea, natural habitat of Aborigines, this is the kind of mind-numbing news we will continue to hear from their enclaves. Look at their wide noses, cross-bred (with chimps) animals cannot continue to mix-n-mingle with humans… oyel does not mix with water. Shikena!

    • Mosaku 147

      Wahala no kill me with laugh ibeg. Where you from see my “president” gulping ogogoro and wearing pyjamas with fake fedora? Na wa for you sef.
      But talking about the stealing going in Yenogwa,it is only next to NNPC. I sure say una no no say presidential (2015) bunkering done dey on for sometime now.

      • Wähala

        Omo, sorry ojare… na vex!

  • @Amuwospeaks

    When I say Jonathan boys are not to be trusted people feel am absurd in thinking.. the truth is : PDP cannot be trusted at large

  • Dr. Kay

    Next please, why are we surprised by this expose’, the leopard can’t change it’s spots ,it is in the nature of Dumbo and gangs to steal , plunder, loot, misappropriate, corruptly enrich themselves and members of their families . 33.8 billion Naira just for one man’s ego to be stroked, how did Nigerian end up in the hands of these squaderers? My people ,history will judge us badly and providence will desert us , if we do not stop this spiral trajectory into ruin, carnage and damnation , unless we reject ,vote out and prosecute these enemies of progress. The thief that they are have stolen, killed and destroyed our collective psyche, we are now hostage to poverty in the midst of plenty. Many have sold their souls for porridge and 20 pieces of silver, but in the end they get their just desserts. Let us do the right thing in 2015 and send these sorry , mean, wicked, soulless, corrupt, insensitive, uninspiring lots into oblivion. Let us not make the same mistake again .

  • peggy

    this is a shame, patricia Etteh was sacked for renovating a house with over N900M, now we are talking about govt. house of over N33B…..who cares if that govt. house is the best in Africa or the entire world? what does Bayelsa have to show for with all it’s rich endowment??? if we are not careful, our politicians will milk this country dry, and travel overseas with their family, leaving us here to eat maize…..Anyways this is what we get when we trade character for party. I Rest My Case

  • tijan kabba

    Now this is just interesting, these PDP cohorts seem like they have taken an oath to bleed this country dry. the people must stand against this continous and mindless looting. We must vote these thieves out in 2015.

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  • robo

    That is hoe they spend the derivation allocation!

  • Don

    If the leaders of the Niger Delta are prudent with spending what comes to them from oil, and also addresses the needs of the people like, water, electricity, education, health and agriculture, there will not be any need for militancy. However, they think focusing on white elephant projects is the essence of governance.

  • McAlfred Uta

    The level of stealing in Nigeria is so mind boggling that only the Chinese treatment of killing corrupt leaders will solve it. I bet this project is not worth more than N4B at most. Unfortunately the governed (electorates) no longer care except if it is fuel subsidy removal. Just recently the Veepee commissioned a 400 metre bridge linking Edo and Delta states that allegedly cost N4B. This bridge will cost less than N1B if it were to be constructed in Sweden or even here in Africa in Namibia or Botswana. Only God knows when this day light robbery will end; just pray it doesn’t end violently. Worst of all, if this Seriake Dickson leaves office tomorrow, EFCC will not go after him after collecting their share of his loot. God is watching.

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  • mike

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  • IGBINI EMMANUEL

    I have read your transcript of the said Audio recording, the Commissioner for Works may have said 33.8b but could this not have been a mistake as we all do sometime? There is nowhere in this said audio recording where he gave a breakdown of this 33.8b in figures which would have been summed up to agree with the 33.8b instead he only said “But in terms of how much has gone in there I don’t know how much but I know we have sunk about 50 to 60 percent of the contract sum…”.

    In serious matter like this involving a said huge sum of 33.8b, the journalists present should have been diligent enough to extract the details and breakdown of this contract in order to rightly report to the people of Bayelsa State. As it stands now, I agree more with the Commissioner for Works that the Journalists did not report the truth although they reported what he said but which I still hold, may have been a slip of tongue (mistake) in the figure he stated.

    To settle this disagreement in figure, the Bayelsa State Governor should order immediate publication of details of the signed contract backed up with photocopy of the signed document(s). The Journalists also have responsibility of investigating further and publish the details of this said contract. Accusations and counter-accusation will only complicate the simple issue and eventually hide the facts from the people of Bayelsa State.

    • Bidemi Lukman

      If the figure was a slip of tongues, the state government would have accepted this and the correction made rather than denying the commissioner never put the figure at N33.8bn. Besides, was it also a slip of tongues that the structure would be best of its kind in Nigeria and propably, best in West Africa. How do you think N3.8bn would give the best Goverment house in Nigeria and in West Africa. Even if N3.8bn could give best gov house in West Africa or Nigeria, is that the priority of the Bayelsan? .Has he given then the best hospital, school, road network system, power supply, security, poverty alleviation programms etc? Rather, they are proud of building best gov house in West Africa which has never impacted on the Bayelsan but impoverish them further. Bros, dont annoy me with your arguement.

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  • sadiq

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    These cars were seized by government officials at border and the time duration given to the owners to claim their cars has elapse so they are been sold

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  • Bidemi Lukman

    If the figure was a slip of tongues, the state government would have
    accepted this and the correction made rather than denying the
    commissioner never put the figure at N33.8bn when it was obvious he did.

    Besides, was it also a
    slip of tongue that the structure would be best of its kind in Nigeria
    and propably, best in West Africa. How do you think N3.8bn would give
    the best Goverment house in Nigeria and in West Africa. Even if N3.8bn
    could give best gov house in West Africa or Nigeria, is that the
    priority of the Bayelsan? .Has he given them the best hospital, school,
    road network system, power supply, security, poverty alleviation
    programms etc? Rather, they are proud of building best gov house in West
    Africa which has never impacted on the Bayelsan but impoverish them
    further.

    Am sorry, why are Bayelsans so unfortunate to have an irresponsible gov right from Alamieyeseigha? This is clearly reflected at the Federal level when stealing is defended not to be corruption and amnesty given to an inernational criminal. I think Nigeria need to carry out a research in some parts of the country to know their understanding of what corruption is.

    Political debate should also be directed at political contestants’ understanding of corruption

  • stanejike

    Highly thought provoking article! When the North East issue was starting, I personally argued that these were almajiris being used by some religious and political zealots! I honestly thought that all we needed was firm police action! I was wrong when I started seeing them detonate themselves to death in pursuant of their ideology. I have since come to realise that no uprising with a deep ideological connection, no matter how feebly it starts should be dismissed with a wave of the hand! Let’s not forget that the Arab spring started with the death of one frustrated citizen that set himself ablaze publicly, followed by few thousand demonstrators! A stitch in time, they say, saves nine!

  • Jamok

    Normally, I don’t comment on articles that I scan through on Internet. But I just felt like to iron out somethings that people tends to misunderstand or undermine. What caught my attention is the fact about the Biafrans demands. The writer stated it as if he just landed from a long journey from another planet, without knowing what is going on in the place he landed. Note that nothing like indoctrinators sowing seed or whatever the writer meant by that. No one or group can just woke up one day and decided to match in the street. They must have a message. In this case those Biafran youths has a clear message that no one had indoctrinated on them. They are youths with education and qualifications who had studied the polity of the country that supposedly should be theirs. But unfortunately does not include them at all. I wish people could just see truth and speak out, instead of running around it hoping that somehow people will believe it. That’s why this country is where it is today. It’s based on lies.

  • Ekene Dilichukwu

    There’s no more love in that marriage and i personal suggest that devious is the best answer/solution to this problem so that everyone will still have peace/respect to each-other. Let’s stop deceiving our-self as if we are enjoying one niZOOria because there was nothing like that and it can-never be, we are just pretending but that is not the best way, it’s called suffering and smiling. as everyone can see here that the more you people try to wage the agitation of Biafra restoration the more awareness you create and more spirit are waking up every minutes you do that, shows, it’s the right time for Biafra to stand and i do not think that there’s nothing, i mean absolutely nothing anybody born of a woman can do to stop it because the our has come, no one can stop the hand work of God because it’s the God doing, but if niZOOria government or Buhari the pedophile think he can stop Biafran restoration let him go on and try even more harder but what ever he sees he will take, i rest my case.

  • dan eze

    ONE
    NIGERIA FOR HAUSA/FULANI YORUBA, ONE NIGERIAN FOR BIAFRAN GOVERNORS,
    HOUSE OF REP/SENATE , ASSEMBLY MEMBERS, ONE NIGERIA FOR THE FEW HAVING
    FUN IN IT? ONE NIGERIA MY FOOT
    Great Biafrans,
    My Hausa friend asked me: Under what conditions would you start believing that One Nigeria is working?
    Here was my response:
    1. Close down Lagos ports and Open up PH,
    Calabar, Onitsha and Warri.
    2.
    Cancel all direct and major connecting flights to Lagos and Abuja
    airports…only local or minimal connecting flights will be allowed.
    While this is being done, open up Enugu, Owerri, Asaba, Uyo and PH to
    international flights…direct and major connecting flights.
    3.
    Ask all international and diplomatic missions to move their embassies
    and consulates from Lagos and Abuja to Enugu, PH and Calabar.
    4.
    All federal governments agencies in Lagos and Abuja shall be relocated
    to Enugu, PH and Calabar. CBN, NNPC,e.t.c shall and must relocate to PH,
    Calabar and Enugu.
    6. If these conditions can be
    fulfilled and implemented, we can try one Nigeria and let’s see if you
    Hausas and Yorubas will like it for a month.
    Meaning,
    Yorubas and Hausas needing to get visas shall travel to PH, Calabar or
    Enugu to do that. Same with flying or connecting flights, same with
    shipping and importing their goods, e.t.c.
    The Hausa friend replied: You can’t be serious, this is wickedness!
    I said, “Really? Don’t you think the South-East and South-South have been suffering and enduring this
    very same wickedness for over 50 yrs? Why do you think people are clamouring for Biafra?”
    He was quiet for a few seconds and said: Wow! You are right, but it never occurred to me.
    I said, “that’s the problem with One Nigeria, those who are benefiting love it and would love to maintain the status quo”.
    An adage in my place says, “The one who ate fleshy meat forgets easily; but the one who eats the bone never forgets

  • 8266

    I think this young Hausa man has good ideas and I wish Mr. President
    will listen to his advice. I believe his suggestions are sincere and
    they are workable. Arresting Nnamdi Kanu was a mistake. The President
    has given the guy more attention than he deserves. Release the guy and
    monitor him closely. Invite Igbo youths to a conference and be sincere
    with them and tell them your plans for the youths and
    especially for Igbo youths. Igbo youths have received the shot end of
    the sticks all the time like their parents in the Nigerian Federation.
    They are discriminated against in University admissions and they have to
    be, sometimes 500 to 1000% better than their Northern peers to gain
    admission in Federal intuitions, in job selections etc, merit is
    thrashed and mediocrity is rewarded in the Nigerian system. We are
    inching close to the precipice of disintegration but there is still time
    to negotiate and make peace but the President must reach out and lead
    and not assume it does not matter. It does matter because once we go
    into war Nigeria will never be the same again and the prophesy of the
    West will come to pass. The West is watching but they are not talking
    until it explodes and you will hear them talk. Mr. President take your
    Aboki brother’s advice and act now without wasting time. Reach out to
    Igbo Youths. Talk to them directly and ask them to dialogue with you and
    be sincere. Start this by releasing Nnamdi Kalu but more than anything
    else lead by good example and let equity and fairness rain in Nigeria.
    You can not preach against corruption in the morning and be seen to be
    dinning and sleeping with corruption at night. God Bless Nigeria!