Government shops for N1.8 trillion to complete Niger Delta projects

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The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Uguru Usani, has said N1. 8 trillion is required to complete all the projects in the region.

At a press conference in Abuja yesterday, the minister stated that N400 billion had already been spent on all projects since the inception of the ministry in 2009, but the completion rate had not exceeded 12 per cent.

According to the minister, his ministry’s focus was not to play the blame game, but to assess the achievement of the ministry and forge ahead to reach the desired goals.

He said contractors who had been owed for upward of two to three years were being paid their outstanding money to mobilise them back to site.He added N34 billion was expended on such outstanding certificates at the end of 2015, while another N4 billion was paid contractors to return to site in 2016.

Usani also said there was an irregularity in the award of section five of the East West road, an issue, which had stalled the commencement of the project two years since it was awarded.

The minister disclosed that there was still an outstanding of over N200 billion to be paid on sections one to four of the East West road, while the cost of building the section five, was estimated to cost another N270 billion.

“We may be talking of N800 billion and N1 trillion needed to complete all our projects,” he stated.

Usani urged the five states of the region where the European Union was planning a water project to quickly pay their counterpart funds before the January 12, 2017 deadline, lest the EU withdraws its funds to be deployed elsewhere.

On security, the minister said a committee had been formed, with members from his ministry, information, petroleum resources, interior, the police, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the navy and the State Security Service.

Other sub committees such as the peace committee and alternative resolution committee are also working towards finding a solution to the security problem in the Niger Delta.

He said 344 youths and women were trained in agriculture, and were given startup cash for their businesses. While 130 were trained in Israel, and given N1 million each to start, 214 were trained in agric value chain, snail farming and pottery and given between N300, 000 and N500, 000 to start their businesses. Also, youths were trained in ICT entrepreneurship and phone and tablet assembly. The minister said more money would be put into this in the New Year in order to commercialise the brand.

According to Usani, six agro processing units were also built in the region. One has been commissioned in Ondo, two more are ready for commissioning while three others have reached between 90 and 95 per cent completion.

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