From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Elder statesman and Chairman of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) Edwin Clark has called out the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, for what he called his ‘constant interference in the NDDC.’
Clark went on to appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to set aside a special fund to complete the East-West Road started by the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The PANDEF chairman spoke on Wednesday at his residence when he received the Interim Administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Effiong Okon, and his delegation. Clark called on the minister to live above personal interest and have the interest of the Niger Delta region at heart.
‘The problem we have is the constant interference in the NDDC by the minister. There’s no provision in the NDDC budget for the completion of the East-West road. I don’t know why the road is not under the minister of works. We are asking the federal government to make special funds for the completion of the road.’
Clark also appealed to the youths of the region to give peace a chance in order to allow for development.
Meanwhile, the Interim Administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Effiong Okon, has given assurance that the East-West road, will be completed and commissioned in six months.
This is even as he has appealed to Delta youths who last week blocked the Delta State axis of the East-West road, protesting his appointment by President Buhari, to allow peace to reign for the benefit of the region.
Okon, who was appointed by President Buhari last December to oversee the affairs of the NDDC, also said the abandoned 750-bed hotels in the universities in Delta, Ondo and Rivers states would be completed and commissioned in the next three months.
The NDDC Interim Administrator, who was accompanied by top management of the commission, while commending the National Assembly for approving the 2020 budget of N453.2 billion for the NDDC, last December after 12 months of not having a budget to work with, also assured that verified contracts that have not been attended to for years will also be paid in phases.
The East-West Road project began in 2006 under the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo and it was expected to complete in 2010.
However, it stalled a couple of times due to financial problems. In 2018, President Buhari announced his intentions and readiness to complete the project.
In June last year, President Buhari had approved the release of N19.67 billion to boost efforts to complete sections I-IV of the ongoing East-West Road project in by 2021, in a bid to address infrastructure deficit in the Niger Delta region and the entire country at large.