By Yusuf Alli and Onyedi Ojiabor, The Nation Newspaper
Contractors of the 1, 250 terminated Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) projects have refunded cash, Niger Delta Affairs Minister Umana Okon Umana has said.
He said the recoveries, made by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) due to non-performance, were made following the forensic audit carried out on the activities of the interventionist agency.
The Minister said the final figures will be released after the reconciliation of the cash, adding that such funds would be applied to critical projects and programs in the region.
He said his ministry got N178,283,518,025.65 out of its capital budgets between 2015 and 2022.
Umana, who spoke at the 12th edition of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration’s scorecard in Abuja, said the ministry has however completed 553 projects and programs from 2015 to 2022.
He said: “Out of over 4000 projects directed for termination, a total of 1,250 have been so far terminated as part of the implementation of the Forensic Audit Report. The White Paper on the exercise is being awaited.
Some funds have been returned by contractors due to non-performance and other reasons.
“The EFCC has been able to recover some funds but reconciliation is still being made because the funds recovered are in foreign and local currencies.
“The figure we had by the time the budget was submitted is no longer tenable. Once it is made available and the reconciliation is done, we will release the total amount.
“The recovered funds released by EFCC to the Ministry are to be utilized to fund specific critical projects and programs in the region.”
“The process of harmonizing the ministry’s ‘Niger Delta Action Plan’ and NDDC’s ‘Regional Development Master Plan’ as well as other plans in the region into a single developmental blueprint is ongoing and will be concluded by the first quarter of 2023 to avoid a repeat of a pile-up of projects.”
On capital votes for Niger Delta, Umana said out of the budgeted N220,554,515,629.55 between 2015 and 2022, over N178,283,518,025.65 has been released.
He said the ministry has completed 553 projects and programs within the same period.
He said: “Over N178, 283,518,025.65 have been committed from 2015 to 2022 through the Ministry by the present administration of President Buhari to projects and programs in the region.
“The ministry has completed 553 projects and programs between 2015 and 2022. Some other projects are ongoing at different completion stages in the nine states of the Niger Delta Region.
On the East-West road project, he said 291 km out of the 338 km dual carriageway had been completed before it was transferred to the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing in 2021.
He said 102 road projects are ongoing in the region at different completion levels.
Umana said: “The East-West Road project is a dual carriageway and a priority project that spans a total length of 338 km with well over 41 bridges. It runs from Warri through Port Harcourt to Oron, with a proposed extension to Calabar.
“Two hundred and ninety-one kilometers out of the 338 km dual carriageway completed and all the 41 bridges also completed (with two decks on pile bridges substantially completed) by the ministry before the road project was transferred to the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing in 2021.
“The ministry is constructing inter-state and other road projects in the region to increase the number of road infrastructures in the Niger Delta region and added to the national road network.
“Within the period under review, a total of 102.55 km and five bridges have been completed. One hundred and two road projects are ongoing in the region at different completion levels.”
On plans to empower restive Niger Delta youths with the acquisition of skills, the minister said: the ministry is constructing Skills Acquisition Centres (SAC) in the nine Niger Delta states at a cumulative cost of about N36 billion.
“The construction of 500-boarding capacity SAC in each of the states of the Niger Delta Region with varied specializations have attained various levels of completion.”
On environmental challenges, he said the government has spent N18,183,096,377.42 within the region.
He said: “We have carried out land reclamation and shoreline protection, embankment for flood and erosion control, rehabilitation and reclamation of the degraded ecosystem, Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), engineering design and pollution control among others in the nine states at the cost of N18,183,096,377.42 within the period under review; and 21 Environmental Projects are ongoing.”
He listed some of the priority environmental projects as:
Canalization of 15.64 km of all-season navigable waterways in Burutu and Warri South-West LGAs, in Delta State.
Reclamation of 7.41 hectares of eroded land in Warri South West Local Government Area, Delta State, Nssit Attai Local Government Area, Akwa-Ibom State, Calabar Local Government Area, Cross River State, Isukuwato Local Government Area, Abia State, Port Harcourt Local Government Area and Nkoro Local Government Area in Rivers State.
Rehabilitation of 130 Hectares of degraded Ecosystem through enrichment afforestation in Ekinta Forest Reserve, Cross River State, Igueben Local Government Area, Edo State, Stubbs Creek Local Government Area, Akwa-Ibom State, Ukwa East Local Government Area, Abia State and Ese-Ode Local Government Area in Ondo State.