17 March 2014, Abuja – The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Bala Mohammed, has expressed his appreciation to the board and management of the Subsidy Reinvestment Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) for intervening to bridge funding gaps in some critical national projects in the FCT through a lifeline of about N23 billion this fiscal year. The funding offer is however subject to endorsement by the National Assembly via appropriation.
The minister had last week presented the details of the 2014 SURE-P budget for the FCT to the Senate Committee on SURE-P.
Speaking during a courtesy call on the Chairman of SURE-P, General Martin-Luther Agwai (rtd), in Abuja at the weekend, the minister said the proposed SURE-P intervention in the development of the nation’s capital would help to accelerate the completion of the projects which he described as people-centred.
Already, under the statutory budget, FCT is projected to receive a total of N3.7billion (N3,711,340,206.24).
The N23billion 2014 national SURE-P budget funding in FCT would cover Abuja Rail Mass Transit Project (N10billion) and the provision of infrastructure at Nyanya Labour Camp, Wasa and Mamusa West Districts (affordable and social housing districts) and some vital construction projects.
Mohammed said his administration had approached the national SURE-P to intervene in some critical projects in its bid to fast-track the completion of the strategic rail mass transit scheme. He said the FCTA under his leadership was devoting increased attention to projects that would impact positively on the lives of the ordinary people.
He told the SURE-P that the first phase of the FCT railway project covering a distance of 60.67 kilometres of standard gauge railway tracks and associated permanent way within the FCT is billed for completion in 2015. The total contract price of the project (current phase) is $823.5 million. $500milliom of this sum was provided as concessional loan from the EXIM Bank of China. The injection of this loan facility has accelerated work on the project site.
However, the greatest challenge presently faced in the practical completion of the remains payment of the counterpart funding of $323.5Million by the FCTA due to dwindling national budget funding.
Responding the SURE-P Chairman, Agwai described Abuja as a very important project of the Federal Government. According to him, Abuja as the headquarters of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the conference hub of the African continent requires special intervention to bridge funding gaps.
“We hope that this year and subsequent years, we will work hand-in-hand with the FCT administration towards achieving a more beautiful Abuja. If we enhance the beauty of Abuja, it will help shore up the image of Nigeria,” he said.
Agwai explained that a Project Implementation Unit (PIU) comprising officials of National SURE-P and the FCTA would be put in place to produce the work plan on how to spend the N23 billion intervention fund once appropriated by the National Assembly.
– This Day