Tension Brews between Jonathan and Dickson over Hotel Project
Ahead of the 2015 general elections, President Goodluck Jonathan and his protégé, Governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson might already be dealing with a potentially sour relationship over delay in construction of a five-star hotel project flagged off years back.
Jonathan, as Governor of Bayelsa State back then, began constructing the hotel following the removal of then-Governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha. Alamieyeseigha conceived the hotel project to bolster the state’s tourism capabilities but it was Jonathan who began pumping funds into it.
After he was nominated as vice presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), funding for the project became an avenue for financially fuelling the party’s 2007 presidential campaign. The scope of the project was also widened, ostensibly to allow for further siphoning of funds worth more than N5bn for the presidential election.
Timipre Sylva, who became Governor of Bayelsa after Jonathan, was not exactly a fan of the hotel project, which had gulped over 450 per cent of the total contract value while work remained below 40 per cent completion. His supposedly lackadaisical disposition to the project angered Jonathan, who was reportedly desperate to cover up for the amount of money laundered under the guise of erecting a five-star hotel. His thinking was that it would be difficult to question the huge spending once the project is completed.
With the arrival of his godson, Dickson as the new governor, President Jonathan had expected the completion of the project. But Dickson was himself unwilling to carry on with the project and instead sited a new five-star hotel project less than 1km away from Jonathan’s original project five-star hotel.
Dickson earmarked N3.5bn for the new hotel around Oxbow Lake, and hired a contractor named Anyim Osigwe Group, which is to collaborate with a foreign partner. Dickson also allocated N2.6bn for renovating the new government house with 19 presidential suites.
This development has reportedly landed Dickson in First Lady Dame Patience Jonathan’s bad books, particularly for refusing to turn in money to the stakeholders him in removing Timipre Sylva from office and installing him instead. Sylva is reportedly aware of the first lady’s stance as well as the disappointment of President Jonathan but he is reported to have himself expressed lack of confidence in President Jonathan.
“Dickson has of recent become very suspicious that President Jonathan may likely give him the Sylva Treatment by not allowing him to return for a second term,” a source said.
To avert this treatment, Dickson is reportedly finalising plans to secure the services of a judge, who would pronounce a judgment bringing the governorship election in the state from 2016 to 2015, which means the president will be too busy with his own election to be removing a governor. This judicial project, it is believed, will gulp N3bn.
It is also believed that Jonathan and his wife are considering Special Adviser to the President on Domestic Affairs, Hon. Waripamowei Dudafa. Dudafa was initially picked as Dickson`s running mate in the last gubernatorial elections,but was dropped.
But the Bayelsa Government has denied all these stories. “The story is not true. The Governor is concentrating on roads now. Several meetings have been held concerning the International Conference Centre and four-star hotel,” Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Research and Social Media said in a statement.
“In fact, the restoration administration is anchored on investment promotion and of course, that includes tourism. To underscore this, an Institute of Tourism and Hospitality management is being put in place. The institutions that will promote tourism are being established. It is untrue that Governor Dickson has abandoned the Tower Hotel.”