The Bayelsa State Government has appealed to host communities of the Bayelsa International Airport to give peace a chance and embrace dialogue in resolving grievances.
The state governor, Douye Diri, made the appeal during a meeting with representatives of the communities under the auspices of Bayelsa Airport Host Communities Forum and other stakeholders at the Government House, Yenagoa.
The communities were said to be angry that politicians and influential stakeholders in the state had hijacked employment chances at the airport to favour their candidates.
They also protested against the alleged recruitment of 300 persons by the airport management without any consideration for indigenes of the area.
The chairman of the forum, Alakama Ogbe and the Secretary, Ebimodei Yenigha, appealed to the state government to carry the communities along as critical stakeholders of the airport.
They also asked the state government to complete the payment of outstanding compensations and honour the agreement on the employment of indigenes from the host communities.
But the governor represented by his deputy, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, however, faulted the claim that over 300 persons were employed by the airport management.
He directed the airport manager to compile a list of all employees on community and local government basis and forward same to government next week.
Diri said, “No 300 persons have been employed. You need to substantiate your allegations with facts and figures before putting them out in the public space. We don’t have up to 300 persons at the airport and I am not aware of any new employment that is ongoing.
“We want to avoid certain things. My appeal is that if there are issues of concern, just as you are raising now, bring them up to the notice of government and not through MoUs. Let us dialogue more rather than resort to staging protests.”
On the payment of compensations, the governor noted that he was aware that the previous administration agreed to pay compensation to three strata of those affected by the project, which were the crop owners, families and communities.
Diri described the airport project as one of the strategic investments that could jumpstart the economy of the state, adding that the state government would soon sign an agreement with an airline company with a view to operating commercial flights.