Tunde Opalana, Abuja
Minister, Niger Delta Affairs Ministry, Senator Godswill Akpabio, had disclosed that over N359 Billion has so far been expended on the 657km East-West dual carriage road, stretching from Calabar in Cross River State to Effurun in Delta State since it was initiated in 2006.
He disclosed that “bearing in mind the objectives of the Administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, on the completion of on-going projects, the Ministry was considering raising funds from other sources to ensure the completion of Section I-IV of the road before the end of this administration”
The minister made the disclosure during the 2022 budget defence session by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs.
Akpabio recalled that the Ministry was created among other things, “to implement policies for the infrastructure, environmental, human development and security of the Niger Delta Region, adding, ” the preparation of the Ministry’s budget was conceived in line with the Federal Government 2022 Budget of Economic Growth and Sustainability premised on repositioning the economy on path of growth and resilience.”
Presenting a total budgetary proposal of of N28,131,295,396, the Minister noted that, ‘the Ministry ensured that core projects were consistent with the Administration’s Agenda Policies/strategies contained in the Medium Term National Development Plan (MTNDP), 2021-2025, according priority to ongoing projects.
According to Akpabio, “the 2022 Budgetary Allocation is meagre and significantly inadequate in the face of the mandate and goals of the Ministry to meet the yearnings and aspirations of the people. The volume of the outstanding liabilities with underfunding has affected ongoing projects/programmes of the Ministry across the region.”
Meanwhile, the National Assembly has demanded a concerted effort among major players in the polity, to ensure that adequate funds are approved and released to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs for the urgent completion of the East-West road.
Chairman, House Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Hon Essien Ayi, said, ” what I believe we as lawmakers should do on the issue of the East-West road, is to see to how we can meet with the leadership of the Senate and House of Representatives to fashion out ways in which substantial amount of money would be approved and released to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs for the completion of this very important road.”
According to him,” a situation where a paltry N10bn is allocated for the East-West road yearly is not a sign that the road would be completed in the next 20 years. I have had more than four oversight visits to this particular road and I am tired of these yearly rituals. It is time for those concerned to meet and bail out the Ministry from this inadequate funding so that this all-important and economically viable road is completed for the use and benefit of all Nigerians, particularly, the Niger Deltans.”
Speaking in the same vein, Hon Oghene Egoh, noted that with the poor yearly budgetary provision for the Ministry, there was no way the Ministry could achieve what it was expected to achieve, especially on the East-West road, saying” going by the enormity of work expected of the Ministry, as far as the East-West road is concerned, the sum of N10bn every year in the budget for that road will do little or nothing.”
He stressed that” this is the road that leads to where the resources that is used to run this country is located. For the completion of this road to linger on for close to 20 years, is enough to cause unrest in the region. I will suggest that the chairman of this committee, with some members, meet with the Minister, to discuss on what is really needed to complete this road. This road must have a terminal date.”