"There is a misconception on the part of the pensioners. The airport will be constructed through a PPP arrangement with a Chinese firm called Tyongi."
The Nasarawa State Government on Friday denied allegations of diversion of bailout funds by the National Union of Pensioners (NUP) in the state.
The NUP on Thursday alleged that the state government had diverted bailout funds meant for workers’ salaries to fund airport project in Lafia.
Ahmed Tukur, the Special Assistant to Gov. Umaru Al-Makura, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lafia that the airport project was being executed under a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) scheme.
According to him, the state government has entered into an agreement with a Chinese company, Tyongi Allied Mining Ltd., to fund 75 per cent of the project, while the state government will provide the remaining 25 per cent.
"It is not true that the state government is trying to use the bailout funds for the airport project.
"There is a misconception on the part of the pensioners. The airport will be constructed through a PPP arrangement with a Chinese firm called Tyongi.
"The firm will pay 75 per cent, while the state government will pay for the remaining 25 per cent cost of the airport project," he said.
Tukur said that the 25 per cent from the state government might be sourced from the Federal Government Infrastructural Funds and other means, but not with the bailout funds.
"Our 25 per cent might be either in cash or in facilities. Besides that there is what is called the Federal Government Infrastructural Fund.
"That is what the government is thinking of. To use those funds to finance the 25 per cent for the construction of the airport.
"So, it is not true that the state government is trying to use the bailout for the airport.’’
NAN reports that the state chapter of NUP had issued a communique at the end of its meeting on Thursday, rejecting the use of bailout funds for the construction of the proposed airport in the state.
The communique, which was signed by the union Chairman, Alhaji Umaru Adoga, and the Secretary, Alhaji Ibrahim Usman, kicked against the use of bailout funds for the construction of the airport.
According to them, workers and pensioners in the state are still being owed.
"The decision of the state government to misappropriate the bailout funds, especially for the proposed construction of airport in the state is not a priority of the common man in Nasarawa State for now,’’ it said.
The union has also issued a seven-day ultimatum to the state government to pay outstanding pension arrears and gratuities of its members as well as meet other demands or face the wrath of pensioners in the state.
"The union sympathises with pensioners, dead or alive, on the agony we are passing through.
"Payments of benefits to retired civil servants are a right, not a privilege and a constitutional matter as exists in our extant laws’’.
"Congress, hereby, issues a seven day ultimatum to the state government to accede to our demands, failure to do so, members would take to the streets and other appropriate quarters to enforce their fundamental rights.’’
Responding to the ultimatum in an earlier interview with NAN, Mr Usman Adams, the Director-General of the state Pension Board, said there was no need for the ultimatum as the board commenced payment on Thursday.
"We have started paying them their pension. We have started paying for the two and half months we owe. The payment is for July, August and September,’’ he said.
Adams, however, explained that the ongoing payment was for local government pensioners alone, adding that the state government was not owing state pensioners.