By Chris Ochayi
THE National Chairman of Urhobo Political Movement, UPM, in Delta State, Chief Ominimini Chris Obiuwevbi has appealed to the Federal Government to provide adequate funding to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to enable it complete the dualisation of the East- West highway projects at the stipulated time.
Chief Obiuwevbi who spoke with Vanguard Homes & Property in Abuja described the highways as very vital to the socio-economic development of the Niger Delta region. He pleaded with the government to prioritise the projects and ensure that it is completed by December 2014 as promised by the Minister, Elder Godsday Orubebe..
Obiuwevbi who is also the National President of Oil Producing Area Association of Nigeria, OPAAN, warned that the ministry may not record meaningful achievements for the people of the region if the current paltry yearly budgetary allocation persists.
Decrying the paucity of funds confronting the ministry, Obiuwevbi said the N65billion allocated to the Ministry for 2012, would not be enough to fund the construction of the East West road.
“I want to say that the ministry of Niger Delta is under-funded because what it takes to construct 100km in the northern part of Nigeria will not be enough to construct 10km in the Niger Delta. If you know the terrain of what is called the Niger Delta, first of all you have to excavate to a reasonable extent, take away those areas and sand fill.
“The quantity of sand that is needed for piling, before you can now prime and lay asphalt is much. So if it takes you three months to construct 100 kilometres of roads in the northern Nigeria, it will take you much more longer period to do a project of such magnitude in the Niger Delta. So that is what I want people to understand,” he said.
Noting that the budget of Niger Delta ministry for 2012 was not even enough to complete two projects, he called for increased funding to the ministry, adding, “if the ministry was properly funded, that road would have been completed before now.
“So the contractors handling the projects are working in slow pace due to the quantity of money that is available for them. So I am still calling on the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to properly fund the ministry of the Niger Delta, because it looks as if the ministry is now a punishment to the entire people of Niger Delta. What is the essence of creating a ministry when you cannot fund it?
He stated that the money that the government of late President Umaru Yar’Adua, had put into the ministry, at creation was far much more than what this administration is putting into that ministry.
“Niger Deltans are waiting and that is a commitment statement and we believe in him. In fact, I was one of the persons who earlier call on Mr. President to prioritize that road. But since the Minster came on board and said look by 2014 that is our calendar for completion, everybody’s mind in now at rest.”