Late night on Thursday, a massive late night electrical fire gutted the studios, offices and transmission facility of the AIT/Raypower Station in the Elebele area of Bayelsa State.
In a surprise announcement, Governor Serike Dickson has pledged to use public funds to rebuild the privately owned radio and television facility belonging to Raymond Dokpesi, that was nearly destroyed by the fire in the Elebele area of Yenagoa in the state capital.
The announcement comes, say critics of the governor’s pledge, as state owned media establishments are neglected, operating with obsolete equipment and grossly underfunded.
Critics of the governor’s pledge said this latest move out of the statehouse is a continuation of the governor’s penchant for reckless spending of state funds, to service private interests.
Gov Dickson allegedly spent state funds to build a private residence for Caleb Olubolade, the state’s former Minister of Police Affairs. That government initiative caused a public outcry.
Deacon Markson Fefegha, the Bayelsa State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, visited the station on Friday, less than 24 hours after the fire incident. His high profile visit was to ascertain the extent of damage of the late evening fire. The blaze, he said, had gutted parts of the transmission equipment of DAAR Communications. He described the aftermath as, “unfortunate and sad.”
Speaking shortly after an inspection tour of the communication facility, Fefegha, who was accompanied by Mr. Daniel Iworiso Markson, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, said they were at DAAR COMMUNICATIONS on behalf of the State Government. They wanted to see for themselves the extent of damage caused by the inferno.
Describing the private media outfit as “a partner” in the dissemination of Government’s programs and policies, the commissioner assured the DAAR management of government support in playing a key role in the re-building efforts.
Fefegha expressed regret over the extent of damage caused by the fire, which, he said, destroyed most of the equipment resulting in the shutdown of the facility.
The heads of station AIT, Mr. Ovieteme George, and Mr. Winston Akpabio, of Raypower, attributed the cause of the fire to an electrical fault. The massive fire occurred at about 2am, local time, on Thursday.
The two assured the government that as soon as funds are made available for repairs of the damaged equipment, the television and radio arms of the station will commence transmission sometime over the coming weekend.