Along the Isaac Boro Expressway in Yenagoa, the capital city of Bayelsa State is an imposing, uncompleted 18 storey edifice. The gigantic building stands tall and is strategically situated at a position whereby, upon completion, will further reveal the aesthetics of Yenagoa city. The abandoned edifice overlooks the first flyover constructed by the restoration government of Seriake Dickson. The skyscraper also has a side view that faces the dual carriage way that leads to the Bayelsa Palm. It promises to be a sight to behold when completed.
The building is a five-star hotel referred to as Tower Hotels and International Conference Centre. The project was conceptualized and started by Dr. Goodluck Jonathan in 2006 when he served as governor of Bayelsa State.
When Jonathan left and Chief Timipre Sylva stepped in, the project continued to a point. At least, part of the building was taken to the last floor of 18 storeys. Thereafter, the Jonathan's pet project was abandoned. Jonathan was not happy with the situation he never pretended about it.
When Sylva was ousted as governor in 2012, Jonathan who had risen to the position of president stated clearly that the abandonment of the hotel project was one of the major reasons he fell apart with Sylva. He had said that he initiated the project to boost tourism and internal revenue generation in the state.
During a political rally in 2011 to usher in Sylva's successor, the former president who was in attendance at the Sampson Siasia Sports Complex expressed his dissatisfaction with Sylva for abandoning the project he loved so much. He told the then candidate of the PDP, Dickson, that if he eventually won the election, he should endeavour to complete the abandoned project. Jonathan reminded Dickson that the neglect of the tower hotel project was among the reasons Bayelsans pelted Sylva with sachet water in the same venue and would not hesitate to join them to stone Dickson if he failed to complete the project.
His words: "We initiated the tower hotel and international conference centre project to boost our tourism and our internally generated revenue. We thought that, upon completion, the tower hotel would become a monument of honour to Bayelsa state, but unfortunately, after five years, it has remained a monument of disgrace. It was in this same venue that a governor (Sylva) was stoned by Bayelsans because he did not meet their expectations. If you (Dickson) fail to complete this project that is dear to my heart, l will not hesitate to join Bayelsans to stone you”. Dickson now has about a year to leave office, yet, the hotel has remained uncompleted.
Initially, the project was awarded to Gitto Construction Company. However, when Dickson came on board, it was re-awarded to Sodigi construction company. The commissioner for works and infrastructure, Mr. Lawrence Ewhrudjakpor had told newsmen in Yenagoa that the state government paid a .I n mobilization sum of N4billion to the new company after revaluation. Indeed, Sodigi did mobilize to site and commenced work on the project but it was not near completion before it discontinued. The project has therefore remained uncompleted despite billions of naira expended on it by the state government from the days of Jonathan till the present government, spanning a period of over 13 years.
Bayelsans have continued to wonder what could have led to the non completion of the project, more than a decade ago. Could it be lack of funds? The answer is capital NO. Since his emergence as governor of the state, Dickson has been embarking on multi-billion naira projects, some of which have been completed, while others are nearing completion. The almost completed cargo airport at Amassoma is an example of some capital intensive projects that the Dickson's administration has carried out.
Although, TNN's independent investigation revealed that there is more to the delay in the completion of the tower hotel project than meets the eyes. According to our impeccable Government House sources, the wife of a powerful Bayelsa born politician who has served the country at the national level is averse to the completion of the said project. Her opposition to the completion of the project, we learnt, is because of the proximity of the tower hotel and her private hotel along the Isaac Boro expressway. She fears that if the tower hotel is completed and put to use, it might rundown and overshadow hers.
As the second term of Dickson is gradually winding up, Bayelsans are worried that tax payers money sunk into the project may be lost if nothing is done towards its completion. A former lawmaker in the Bayelsa State House of Assembly who preferred anonymity said Dickson would write his name in gold and also leave his footprints on the sands of time if he could summon courage against all odds and complete and turn the so-called monument of disgrace to a monument of honour.