• Preliminary findings shocking – Usani, Minister
By Emmanuel Una, Calabar
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Usani, says no project embarked upon by the ministry under his predecessors was completed, explaining that the worrisome development forced him to raise a technical committee to audit the billion Naira projects awarded by the ministry so far.
“The ministry is new and so much is yet to be done. Unfortunately, we assumed office to meet the budgeting process and the budget has just been passed; so you should expect more action now. I am, however, worried that no project has been commissioned or completed since the establishment of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs except a cassava processing plant in Ondo State, which we commissioned recently, and not being re-focused. But this jinx of non-performance I want to immediately break. Recently, I raised a technical committee to audit all projects awarded by the ministry so far. Though the committee yet to submit the full report, the preliminary report will shock you. I think that’s the way to begin. Know what job was awarded to who, how much and what has been done. Does the percentage of completion conform to what has been paid? If not, when was the job supposed to be completed and all that?”, Usani said while speaking to Sunday Vanguard on the activities of his ministry.
The projects under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs include the N560 billion East-West Road, water programmes and road construction traversing the oil-rich region.
On the involvement of his ministry in the resolution of renewed militancy in the Niger Delta, he said: “My ministry is deeply involved while the operational action is performed by the security Agencies. So the ministry of Niger Delta Affairs will continue to do what we have been doing before now, but I must say that the environment is ours and destroying it will not do us any good. Imagine the Ogoni reclamation is going to take 30yrs, yet we have not learnt. Rather than support President Buhari to do more, we are adding to the destruction of the environment, our ecosystem, fresh water and aquatic lives. It is a condemnable and unthinkable approach that should be desisted. Imagine of all leaders that this UNEP report has been made known to, in just one year in office, this President has implemented it. I can say that the Niger Delta region is benefiting more under this APC regime led by President Buhari more than it benefited from any other regime”.
Dismissing the claims that he was far from his people and did not accept people into the APC while he was the state Chairman and that he is not accessible as minister, he said: “I did welcome you into my private residence even when I did not know your mission. Didn’t I? When you came into my parlour, you saw all the people there or the ones I have attended to before. Didn’t you? I did say I wasn’t interested in all this because it is time wasting. You are journalists. There are questions you should have already scribbled down your answers before you came up here. I represent a people and I work for the entire Nigerians. So honest and good intentioned people can be sure that my doors, both in the office and at home, are open to them especially those with genuine problems and useful contributions as to how we can move the country and the affairs of the Niger Delta towards greater good.
“On the second part of your second question, I had not become the Chairman of the APC when the membership registration took place. I only became Chairman during the revised congress and have since then followed the party guidelines to admit members into the party. Before the elections, I made deliberate and conscious efforts to woo some persons whom I knew we could midwife to victory into the APC but such persons, apparently feeling that they will be automatic winners if they got PDP tickets, rebuffed my overtures and went to wrestle it in PDP. Now tell me, are you talking about those who used all their might against APC?
“I had at no point refused anybody membership of APC. Where a man comes because he lost election in PDP or any other party and begins to insinuate that there were no persons in APC, this is not fair to the foundation members of APC. As state Chairman of the party, I owe my party men a duty to protect them and fight for their benefits. How does it feel for a man who ate and broke the pot to immediately go to another man’s cooking and want to even be dished food ahead of those who have been patiently waiting and persevering starvation when the food has been prepared? I still maintain my stance, which is that benefits should be served first to those APC members who have suffered and worked because anything short of that will be a betrayal of the resilience and hard work of those who hoped when others scorned and some despised; this was also, the maiden pronouncement of the president after election. Let the so called “No names” be known. For example, I was PA and Commissioner before I became 35. It means there are many talents untapped in APC that we can harness, because, out of conviction displayed in their resilience, these group of people have the integrity to drive this government’s agenda and ideology. I tell you sincerely, strengthen a small name with character and watch him become a giant”.