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'Only Existing Projects will be given priority in The Budget' - NASS Committee

Giving its voice to condemn the rate of uncompleted projects in the Niger Delta region, the House of Representatives Committee on Niger Delta has said it would emphasise the completion of existing projects in future budget considerations for the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs.

The Chairman, House Committee on Niger Delta, Honourable Essien Ayi disclosed this at the end of an oversight visit by the Committee to selected projects of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs in the region, on Friday.

"We are not impressed by the level of uncompleted projects in the Niger Delta region, that was why we have taken the pains to go round since on Tuesday, from Delta to Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and today, we are in Cross River State; to see things for ourselves, to guide us on the next budget." He stressed.

It is of note that the Honourable Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Dr. Usani Uguru Usani has not stopped to emphasise at different fora, the constraints of completing some of the projects he inherited in the Ministry since he assumed office three years ago, especially the East West road and the Skills Acquisition Centres.

Honourable Ayi lamented that his Committee was not impressed that the East West road has not been completed in spite of all financial investments on the project by the Federal Government in the last twelve years.

It would be recalled also that during an assessment tour of the East West road by the Federal Government Inter-Ministerial Committee led by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Dr. Usani Uguru Usani and his colleague in the Ministry of Transportation, Rt. Honourable Rotimi Amaechi recently, it was discovered that contractors would require about 100 billion Naira to complete the East West road project.

This discovery, according to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, culminated in the Federal Government's directive that the remaining work on sections 1 to 4 of the project be trasfered from the Ministry to the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (N.S.I.A) for funding.

Similarly, the House of Representatives Committee threatened to ensure that contractors who could not deliver based on the funds received, were made to face the wrath of the law, while reiterating the need for the Ministry to allocate all completed and on-going housing projects in the nine states of the region, to the end users.

The Committee opined that more efforts should be devoted by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to completing on-going projects, before introducing new ones.

"We cannot allow projects to be abandoned while new ones are being introduced every year, our emphasis will now be on completion of the existing projects in budget considerations," Ayi stressed.

In his remarks, a Deputy Director in the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Femi Oloruntola attributed insufficient budgetary allocations to the Ministry, for the lingering uncompleted projects in the Niger Delta region. Oloruntola added: "The Skills acquisition centres for instance, are nine in number in the nine states of the Niger Delta region and the appropriations to these centres every year are not enough to take care of the financial requirements for their completion, so only one of them has so far been completed and handed over to the Federal University, Otuoke in Bayelsa State."

He stressed that aside from finance which has been a major challenge of the Ministry, some contractors have not also been performing up to expectations.

It was of note that at a similar inspection tour last weekend, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Dr Usani Uguru Usani came hard on erring contractors by threatening that his Ministry would blacklist and bar such contractors from getting further contracts in the Ministry.

Some of the projects inspected by the House of Representatives Committee on Niger Delta included: The East West road, from Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom States; Housing Estate at Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom state; Atimbo/Akpabuyo road, Bakassi Housing Estate and the Skills Acquisitions Centre at Akpabuyo in Cross River state respectively. Some of the Committee members led by the Deputy Chairman, Honourable Nasiru Ahmed were also in Ondo State for a similar exercise, within the week.

Signed
Stephen Kilebi
Deputy Director (Press)
24th November, 2018

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