•East-West Road to gulp N400bn
From Fred Itua, Abuja
The Federal Government, yesterday, revealed that over N1 trillion is needed to complete ongoing and abandoned projects in the Niger Delta region.
Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani, who disclosed this to newsmen, said although he could not authoritatively reveal how much was needed, “the records on ground showed billions of naira would be required.”
He specifically said over N400 billion would be needed to complete certain sections of the East-West Road.
The minister said since inception, about N400 billion have, so far, been spent on projects in the region.
In the 2017 budget, recently presented by President Muhammadu Buhari to the National Assembly, only N33 billion was budgeted for capital and recurrent expenditures in the ministry.
Usani said: “It’s difficult to say how much will be expended. As at the end of last year, we had N34 billion outstanding payment for projects done. The completion stage of projects in the region is about 12 percent. It is difficult to say because we have not sat down to compile how much is needed. Over N1 trillion is needed to complete projects in the Niger Delta. For the East-West roads alone, over N400 billion is needed.
“We may be compelled to report contractors who have refused to return to sites or return monies paid to them.
“We’ve had challenges in the ministry in the areas of security and capacity since we came in. We came in and had to put in place an organisation. It was perceived as a place where militants could come into and take palliative whenever they were aggrieved. There was also disorder in the ministry.
“We have made attempts and engaged stakeholders in the region. We have initiated a relationship with people handling different affairs in the region. We have established contacts with governors of the region. We always carried them along in whatever we are doing.”
Usani added that the ministry had trained and engaged several youths in different vocations but regretted that the contractors handling East-West roads have not been mobilised.
“We have advised the government on the issue of security in the region. The rate of development in the region is not as fast as we had thought and that is because of lack of funds. We have housing estates in the nine states of the Niger Delta region,” he said.