From Adetutu Folasade-Koyi and Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Umana Okon Umana, has assured that East-West Road would be completed soon.
Umana made the disclosure when he presented the Buhari administration’s 2015 to 2023 scorecard in Abuja, yesterday.
The event had in attendance, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; the Minister of State, Niger Delta Affairs, Sharon Ikeazor; the Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, amongst others.
Umana disclosed that 291km out of the 338km dual carriageway have been completed by the Federal Government.
Umana also said all the 41 numbers of bridges have been completed as well, with two numbers deck on pile bridges substantially completed by the Ministry before the road project was transferred to the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing in 2021.
Umana however said the implementation of the project had to do with appropriation, saying that the appropriation to the Ministry every year was inadequate to support the execution of the project.
“Mr President directed that it should be handed over to the Ministry of Works and Housing.
“Recently, the lucrative solution to complete this project which has been pending and ongoing for so long, the Ministry of Works and Housing and the Federal Government, the Federal Ministry of Finance, came up with the tax relief scheme which has now made it possible,” Umana said.
Umana further said that the project, having lingered for so many years, it was important that its cost be reviewed.
Umana explained that recently, the Federal Government approved the variation cost for the sections of the East-West Road that were still outstanding, including the Onne to Eleme section which had been outstanding and had been a matter of contention and controversy.
“So, with that variation cost now approved and with the special arrangements made to use special funds to complete this project, I believe it is a matter of time to have the closure on the East-West Road. I can say so confidently,” Umana stated.
Earlier, Umana said that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration completed a total number of 553 projects and programmes between 2015 and 2022.
Umana said: “The Ministry has completed 553 Projects and Programmes between 2015-2022.
“Some other Projects are ongoing at different completion stages in the Nine (9) States of the Niger Delta Region.”
In the agricultural sector, 10 projects were delivered in 2016; 35 in 2017; three projects in 2018, while 2019, 2020, and 2021 witnessed 52, six, and 57 projects respectively.
In the area of education, 10 projects were delivered in 2015, 24 in 2016, 10 in 2018, while seven were delivered in 2019, seven in 2020 and eight in 2021.
Focusing on environment, Umana stated that 106 projects were executed in 2017, three in 2018, four in 2019, while 2020 witnessed two projects.
In the years in focus, Umana further said the region had 29 projects delivered in the health sector; 66 in the housing sector, 21 in orientation and information, 31 in water sector, and 62 projects in the field of works.
In the aggregate figures, Umana disclosed that Abia State got 33 projects; Akwa Ibom had 55 projects delivered to the state, 27 to Bayelsa State, while Cross River State got 71.
Umana also stated that Delta State received 65 projects, Edo State got 51, Imo State had 73, Ondo got 55, and Rivers State, 26.
Earlier, in his welcome address, the Information minister disclosed that the federal government is working closely with META, owners of social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp; to safeguard the integrity of the 2023 general election.
Mohammed also commended Meta for its decision to take steps to protect the integrity of the 2023 general elections.
“Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, during one of our earlier sessions here, I spoke about the dangers posed to the 2023 elections by fake news and disinformation. I said the increasing resort to fake news and disinformation by some political actors and a section of the media constitutes a clear and present danger to the success of the elections, just like violence, insecurity, vote buying, attack on INEC facilities, etc.
“In this regard, I want to acknowledge the announcement by Meta, the owners of Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp, that it will take clearly-outlined steps to protect the integrity of the forthcoming elections. Specifically, Meta detailed the actions it plans to take to combat disinformation and to make political advertising more transparent. The company committed to these actions before, during and after the elections.
“This is commendable and it is in line with what we have always said, that the platform owners have a big role to play in checking the spread of fake news, disinformation and hate speech via their platforms.
“Meta has demonstrated a great sense of responsibility and we hope the company will live up to its promise. We also urge other platform owners like Google (owners of YouTube and others), ByteDance (owners of TikTok), Twitter and the Telegram Group Inc. (owners of Telegram messenger) to emulate Meta by taking positive steps to prevent the spread of fake news, disinformation and hate speech via their platforms ahead, during and after the 2023 elections,” Mohammed said.