By Daniel Idonor
ABUJA—IN a swift move to nip in the bud what is capable of sectionalizing his Presidency, Acting President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, described as outright falsehood reports that he has cancelled the ongoing N36 billion dredging of the River Niger in Lokoja and diverted the funds meant for it to reclaim the lower River Niger.

A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the Acting President on Media and Publicity, Ima Niboro, said there was never a time that Jonathan presided over any meeting that approved the stoppage of the N36 billion contract for the dredging of the River Niger from Forcados in Delta State to Baro in Niger State.

The statement said: “This is to correct the false impression being created in some quarters that the Acting President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, allegedly diverted the sum of N19billion from the River Niger Dredging project, into shore protection and land reclamation projects in the Niger Delta.

“The other variant of the story is that Dr. Jonathan has cancelled the dredging of the River Niger, which was flagged off September last year by President Umaru Yar’Adua. Both stories are entirely false, and are being sponsored by desperate persons who are determined to tamper with the peace and unity of our dear country.

The facts

“There is no relationship whatsoever between the River Niger dredging project and the proposed shore protection and land reclamation projects proposed for the Niger Delta states. These projects are part of the post amnesty projects planned for the region, and are to be funded from a ‘ring fenced’ fund dedicated to the Niger Delta amnesty programme.

“In the instant case, N5.5 billion, part of the dedicated amnesty fund under the 2009 supplementary appropriation, was set aside by the Ministry of Transportation for improvement of waterways and related issues in the Niger Delta.

The ministry, therefore, proposed to dredge a channel through the River Nun, taking off from Onya in Delta through Odoni, Kaiama, Tombia, Yenagoa, Okodogu, Okokiri, Nembe, with a spur to Brass, Apiama, Ndukiri, Sand Village, Ekulama, Idama, Tombiabok, with a spur to Degema, Bobake, Ndorokiri, Obekiri, Yekiri, Okungba up to Port Harcourt.”

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