The Minister, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Elder Godsday Peter Orubebe has said that there is no duplication in the execution of projects in the Niger Delta between the NDDC and the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs.“A lot of people speak about duplication of projects in Niger Delta; and I can tell you that no such thing exists. The Ministry is concerned with regional projects whereas NNDC specialises in Community based projects”.
Orubebe made this declaration on Monday, November 3, 2013 in Lagos during an interactive meeting with Newsmen. The Minister stated that due to the critical nature and importance of the East- West road which traverses the Niger Delta region, the Ministry has decided that the road remains a paramount project.
According to him, “the Ministry could be likened to a one project Ministry because the Budget is for a particular task. The East-West road being the flagship project of the Ministry was initially scheduled for completion by December 2010 but, due to poor budgetary provision over the years, coupled with initial poor drawings and designs of the project and numerous security threats in the region, a new completion date has been slated for December 2014, and it is the desire of the Ministry to meet up with the new date since the project is dear to the people’’.
Orubebe further said that out of the One thousand and thirty one culverts on the road; Seven hundred and seventy two have been completed, adding that thirty eight out of forty two bridges have also been completed. This includes the 850 metres Imo River Bridge, Choba and Okoso Bridges on Section III & II respectivelywhile sub-structural work is on-going on Mbiama, kaiama and Patani Bridges.
He disclosed that the Federal government in addition to the annual budget for the project has committed a total sum of N70.1 billion under the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE–P) from 2012-2014. He confirmed that the Ministry is expecting a loan of three hundred million dollars (N48 billion) from the African Development Bank (AFDB) and about 50% of the loan is expected to be utilized in the 2013 financial year whereas the balance will be released in 2014. He affirmed that the amount requiredto complete the road stands at about One hundred and forty billion, Eight hundred and Sixty five million, Six hundred and forty two thousand, thirty one naira, forty four kobo only (N140, 865, 642, 031.44).
While reacting to questions from journalists, the Minister revealed that besides the construction of the East- West road, the Ministry is also engaged in the training of non-militant Niger Delta youths. He said that, the Ministry has trained 701 youths in Agriculture, Oil & Gas and Maritime sectors of the economy and had concluded arrangement to empower those trained in agriculture to own their farms.Speaking further, he said, the Ministry has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding ( MoU) with a company in Ireland to train and employ 500 youths in ICT and another 100to travel to Israel for a training in Agriculture.
The Minister reiterated that the construction of 9 Skills Acquisition Centres in all the 9 States of the Niger Delta is in progress stressing that four out of these centres, particularly Otuoke Skill Acquisition Centre, Bayelsa State may be commissioned in December, this year.
Also reacting to pocket of kidnapping incidences taking place in the region, he said the acts were not particularly limited to the Niger Delta region affirming that whatever crises in the region is largely due to activities of criminals which are present everywhere. He said that the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta, MEND which was headed by the former warlord, Chief Government Ekpemukpolo, a.k.a. Tompolo has been confirmed dead by the leadership of the group.
The Minister informed that Mr. President’s transformation agenda is working, stressing that he is committed and ready to pursue it to a logical conclusion. He charged the press to continue to support Mr. President to succeed.
F. Bolokor-Mohammed (Mrs.)