BY DANIEL IDONOR
ABUJA—PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan yesterday assured the people of the South-East geo-political zone that his government would ensure the completion of the second Niger Bridge before the end of his tenure in 2015.
The President who spoke when he received Ndigbo leaders, led by former Vice President Alex Ekwueme said the issue of the second Niger Bridge is to be given adequate attention in the next four years.
He said, “luckily the Coordinating Minister of the Economy is here, though the Minister of Works is not here but I have already directed the Minister of Works to come up with a plan for us to commence work on that bridge. The Coordinating Minister will take it as one of our priority projects for the next three budget years or so. God willing we should deliver the bridge before we conclude by 2015. Of course you have also highlighted some roads projects, the road to Obubra and others”.
He added that “in terms of state government intervening to get refunds from the central government, we discussed this even in the previous administration, that was why we set up a committee and worked out the blueprint from where a state government wants to intervene on a road a project or any Federal Government infrastructure, so that at the end of the day you will be paid”.
Jonathan vowed that contractors that have executed shoddy contract for the Federal Government in the recent past are to be blacklisted.
According to him, “on the issue of some of the contractors doing very shoddy jobs, we have already taken decision that we will have to blacklist some of the contractors. If a contractor is not doing a good job definitely the Federal Government will blacklist the contractor. Right now we are taking the Arch. Bunu report sector by sector. We formed a project monitoring team headed by Arch. Bunu and others to look into the major projects awarded by Federal Government and they brought a very big report.
We have said this is not a government that set up a committee to look into it and just put the report in the cupboard. The executive council is taking that report sector by sector, the last council handled the power sector, the next one we are going into the road infrastructure.
So we will analyze the project one after the other and where we see the contractors performing substandard jobs, the federal government is going to blacklist those contractors”.
He explained that “if the delay is from us in terms of payment issues, of course we know what we will do, we are looking at the various options and that is one of the greatest challenges the Coordinating Minister of the Economy faces, for us to get various options to fund our capital projects.
Because when we followed the line projecting with the enormous jobs in our hands it will take years for Nigeria to get to where we want to go. So we are looking at creating ways of getting these facilities and still run our normal budget”.
Jonathan has also said that government would soon commence the exploration of crude oil in the South-East region, as part of deliberate efforts to harness the development of natural resources in different parts of the country.
“I will discuss with the Oil Minister because we also want to revisit the exploration in the basins, the Chad Basin and the Benue trough in the North, so there is no reason why we should not re-examine the Anambra Basin. I know seismic work has been done before, I have been told that there are some gas wealth that have been corked, in fact there are some blocs that were even given to some people but the people have not started mining.
But we will do everything to make sure that wherever we have natural resources that can enhance the economy we will have to conclude it. I will especially discuss with the Minister of Petroleum.
He said “the reforms we are carrying out in the oil sector will even take care of most of these things especially if we are able to conclude the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) I believe the Deputy Senate President and the Deputy Speaker being here will facilitate the quick conclusion of the new Petroleum Industry Bill”.
Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State had delivered the group’s address where he catalogued various needs of the region, which the President responded to in his remark.
They were led on the visit by a former Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, the Chairman of the South-East Governors Forum, Mr Peter Obi, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, Other members of the delegation include, Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha, National Chairman of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, Chief Victor, Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Nnamaka Achebe among others.