From Paul Osuyi, Asaba

Delta State government has received N1 billion upfront fee as part of expected proceeds from the concession of Asaba Airport.

The state had on February 23, signed a concession agreement with First Investment/Menzes Consortium for the development and management of various sections of the airport for the next 30 years.

As part of the terms of the agreement, the concessionaire was expected to pay an upfront fee of N1 billion on or before close of business on the 15th day after the signing of the agreement.

Commissioner for Finance, Okemuo Fidelis Tilije, who confirmed the receipt of the funds, said the money was paid last Friday as promised by the concessionaire.

Tilije was responding to enquiries during a courtesy visit by members of Asaba Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Delta State Council.

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“I hereby confirm that the N1 billion has already be received by the state government, and it is sitting in our account with Zenith Bank. It was received last Friday,” Tilije said.

He hailed the decision by the Governor Ifeanyi Okowa-led administration to concession the airport, insisting that government was hitherto committing so much in running the airport, but with little returns.

“We know there are people who are not knowledgeable about governance that questioned that decision to concession the airport.

“Government was spending so much on the airport, and it was not yielding returns. So, you needed to get the private sector to properly manage it, develop it and make it profit-oriented.

“As a government, it was a smart and painstaking decision to concession the airport to reduce government influence in the management. In the next few years, you will not believe what that airport would be turned into because it is centrally located,” he said.