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FG requires N70bn to complete East-west road

Abuja – Mr Nsima Ekere, the Managing Director, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) says the commission and the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs need over N70 billion to complete the construction of the East-West Road.

Ekere disclosed this in a statement signed by Mr Ibitoye Abosede, the Director, Corporate Affairs of the commission on Friday.

Ekere said that the NDDC would partner with its supervising ministry and private sector investors on the construction of the East-West road.

“Over N70 billion is needed to complete the road. So, the strategy will be to harness private sector collaboration to complete the road. The portions that have totally collapsed will be addressed immediately.”

He said that the Eleme-Refinery junction section was in a very terrible state.

“It is so bad that a 10-minute journey on that axis now takes three hours. That section of the road has failed and we will get contractors to the site immediately,” he said.

The NDDC boss said that the construction of the remaining sections of the East-West road would be handled by many contractors.

“Our strategy involves multiple contractors. The road, which is a strategic link to the oil and gas industry in Nigeria, connects Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River states.

According to Ekere, the commission is embarking on a centralised e-project management scheme, which will reduce waste and costs on project management.

“We are determined to improve on our project management capabilities. NDDC projects all over the region will be managed from a central project management platform such that I can sit in my office at the headquarters and monitor projects all over the region.

“The essence of this is to ensure a robust project management portfolio and reduce waste and costs.

“We are determined to do things differently. We are determined to leave behind a new and improved NDDC. We are determined to reform our systems to help us reduce the incidents of abandoned projects.”

Ekere commended the minister for auditing of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, adding that the NDDC would borrow a leaf from that exercise.

The statement also quoted the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani, as commending the NDDC board and management for its efforts toward reforming the commission’s processes.

Usani called on the staff of the commission to cooperate with the management during its audit exercise.

“We must from this day hasten our processes within the commission. There is no more room for partisanship.

“We will stop political interference in the NDDC. Any political interference in the commission will be resisted. I assure you, political interference will no longer be an obstacle for the NDDC.”

Usani said that the audit that would be carried out in the NDDC was a presidential directive, which must be complied with as soon as possible.

He said that anyone who constituted an obstacle in the audit process would be shoved out of the way.

“The ministry was buffeted with obstacles when it conducted its own audit. The staff of the ministry tried to frustrate the process.”

Also, in his a PowerPoint presentation to the minister, the NDDC Director for Special Duties, Dr Princewill Ekanin, said that political interference was responsible for poor management of the commission’s budget cycle.

He said that poor compliance with internal processes and procedures as well as poor institutional culture was responsible for poorly delivered projects.

He said that the commission was reviewing all its contracts awarded from 2011 to date with a view to terminating unviable ones that did not comply with procurement processes and award acceptance terms.

Other contracts affected were those awarded with no signed agreements, projects with poor performance and abandoned projects.

The former Supervising Minister of the ministry, Mr Darius Ishaku, said that the Federal Government needed N30 billion to complete the East-West road project.

Ishaku said this when he received members of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme Sub-committee on the East-West road.

Ishaku said in spite of the budgetary provision and funds from the African Development Bank, there was a gap of N30 billion still needed.

The Federal Government obtained N50 billion from the AfDB for the project.


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