…Says completion time of East-West road unknown
23 December 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered a technical audit of 400 projects that were awarded between 2009 to 2015 by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs.
The audit is to ensure that there is value for the over N450 billion so far released for the projects in the nine oil producing states.
This announcement was made by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani, at a news conference in Abuja, where activities of the ministry in the past two years were also reviewed.
He explained that the audit report would provide firsthand information on the over 400 projects as well as convince the president to approve the supervision of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) by the Ministry to avoid duplication of duties, adding that it was regrettable that the percentage of job done on the projects stood at only 12 per cent.
However, the Minister did not give details of the actions the government would take against contractors who collected various sums of money but failed to deliver.
“The Ministry may not have got it right at inception in terms of pursuing the agenda of government of transforming the region, we are nonetheless committed to changing the narratives by addressing the core needs of the people,” he said.
The minister also listed strides made by his ministry.
He said that about 214 women and youth from the nine states of the Niger/Delta were trained in Ibadan, Oyo state in fisheries, poultry and Information Communication Technology between 2016 and 2017 and also empowered with N300,000 to N500,000 as start-up capital for business.
He said one million non-militant youth and women have been trained in various fields of human endeavours, while seven cassava processing plants were being established in the region to make life easy for the citizens.
He added that the ministry had facilitated the required 30 per cent counterpart funding to access European Union (EU) N2.4 billion grant for a water project in Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Rivers and Akwa Ibom under the Niger Delta Support Programme.
Mr. Usani said that 130 youth were earlier trained in Isreal in poultry, aquaculture and crop production and were given N1 millioneach to begin a life of productivity, stating that the funds were disbursed through the Bank of Agriculture and the Nigerian Agriculture Insurance Corporation.
He said the Skill Acquisition Centre in Otuoke had been completed and handed over to the Federal University, Otuoke to manage while housing estates in the Niger Delta states were undergoing construction.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has said it cannot give the exact time when the East-West Road will be ready for use.
The government said there was no definite dateline for the completion of the dualisation of the highway which was awarded 11 years ago during the administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Usani Uguru Usani, disclosed this at the 2017 ministerial press briefing of the ministry in Abuja.
The annual event was aimed at showcasing the achievements of the ministry.
Hinging his position on lack of funds, the minister said, “You cannot fetch water from the rock if there is no fountain.”
Usani added, “I’m as anxious to know when the road will be ready. However, we cannot say when the road will be ready unless we know our financial capacity and capability. I don’t know the date of completion. So, pray for us to get money.”
The contract for the dualisation of the East-West Road, which cuts across the Niger Delta region, was awarded by the administration of Obasanjo under the Presidential Initiative in November 2006 with a completion period of three years.
Though the completion date of the project has been shifted several times, the minister however said the ministry would “continue to fund the project until it is completed