The Honourable Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani has directed the Management of the Akwa Ibom State Office of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), to carry out a detailed report on the status of all ongoing and abandoned projects of the commission in the state for proper actions to fast track their completion.
Usani gave this directive during an on- the- spot inspection of some NDDC projects in Akwa Ibom state, on Friday. "We came to look at the projects of NDDC in particular because the debt profile of the commission is in excess of one trillion naira and it is quite disturbing that with the huge investment of resources from oil companies, government and all intervention programmes, the Niger Delta as a whole is still very backward." He lamented.
The Minister added that it was the major concern for the government that people were not seeing the dividends of the investments of government, saying he decided to have an on- the -spot assessment and objective view of whatever was being done by the Commission.
It is worthy of note that this inspection by the Minister was the first exercise he had carried out on the Niger Delta Development Commission projects, since he inaugurated the board and management of the Commission in November, 2016 when it was brought under the supervision of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs.
Some of the projects inspected by the Minister included the Prototype students hostel located at the University of Uyo and an abandoned road project site at Ikot Akpatek, in Onna Local Government Area.
On the Prototype hostel which took off in 2004, but has been abandoned since 2015, the Minister sought to know the mobilisation sum so far and a reassessment of work done compared to the total amount received since the take off of the project. He also wanted to know the cause of the abandonedf road project at Ikot Akpatek.
Pastor Usani reiterated that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari was bent on curbing all excesses and duplication of projects that caused waste of resources leading to low level of implementation. He added that if the state government has decided to award the road project in Ikot Akpatek, the Federal Government, will have to liaise with the state on the acceptable format of executing the project, knowing that two contractors will not be taking resources on the same project. "This has happened in several locations and we are not comfortable with it, so where we have knowledge of it early enough we will take action that will cause the resources of one of them to be deployed elsewhere. " He emphasised.
The Minister stressed that the platform that had been created in having a synergy with all agencies concerned with development projects in the Niger Delta region would ensure an objective opinion of all parties involved.
In the words of the Minister: "When it concerns issues of development, we make sure that we do not have divisions because it is not the people who are the managers of the system that intend to benefit, it is the members of the public."
He added that, "At present, we are expecting approval from the presidency to audit all projects of the Niger Delta Development Commission as was done in the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs; once that approval is given, we will set into action, and we will make sure that those who do not have capacity to do their projects will relinquish such projects on terms that are acceptable within rules of procurement, and those who have capacity, but failed to do, will be caused to complete such projects by whatever means."
The Minister said the project audit was not intended to make anybody suffer, but the concern of Government was to ensure that what anyman took commitment to do was accomplished. "Our concern is to make the projects work."
In the same vein, the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Works, Mr. Ephraim Inyang, who was in the minister's entourage to the project sites alleged that most of the NDDC abandoned projects in the state were published in the past by the Commission as completed. Inyang assured the Minister that the report of what the state government has discovered on the NDDC projects would be submitted to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, with a view to compare with what the staff of the Commission will submit. "We will make sure that every project has a report and a picture so that we come to the same level."
In a related development, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs used the opportunity of the national assignment in Akwa Ibom state to attend the Youth Empowerment Summit, 2017 for Christian Youths held at Uyo, the state capital on Friday, under the Theme: 'Building Capacity for Maximum Impact'.
Addressing the gathering, the Minister charged the youths to demonstrate their love for Nigeria by praying for the success of President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government.
Meanwhile, the Minister also visited survivors of the recent football fans who were electrocuted at a football viewing centre in Calabar, who were still recuperating at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Calabar, Cross River state capital, on Friday.
While praying for the quick recovery of the affected people, the Minister promised to report what he saw appropriately to the Federal Government for further possible assistance, as he gave a sum of money to the management of the Hospital in support of the affected people. He thanked the Hospital Management headed by the Chief Medical Director, Prof. Thomas U. Agan for ensuring that no life was lost among the victims who were taken to the Hospital alive.
The Chief Medical Director expressed delight for the Minister's visit and kind donation, calling for more support of the Federal Government in improving the facilities in the hospital.
29th April, 2017