Ola ‘Kiya, Reporting
The Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs has secured N10.4bn from the 2021 Sovereign Sukuk Issuance for the completion of construction work on the nightmarish East-West Road.
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, was presented with the cheque by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, in Abuja on Thursday.
Akpabio, who spoke through his Permanent Secretary, Dr Ardo Babayo, thanked his Finance ministry counterpart for her support for the ministry and by extension, the Niger Delta region.
“Let me acknowledge the support and effort of the Hon Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, for the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and the people of the region.
“The Eleme Junction to Onne, a 15-kilometre section of the East-West was abandoned because of lack of funds and that was why we went to Sukuk through the Ministry.
“We also recall that during the 2021 budget presentation, it was agreed that the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs will contribute the sum of N10bn from its meagre N19bn for capital projects, with the understanding that the Ministry of Finance would add N35bn and Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) N35bn, making N80bn for the completion and commissioning of that road by President Muhammadu Buhari this year 2022.
“Before now, the Niger Delta Ministry had mobilised the RCC for necessary repairs on the collapsed portion of the road, as a stop-gap measure, for easy vehicular and human movements.
“The Eleme Junction had to be redesigned to accommodate the Power Station that was not there when the road was contemplated in 2006,” he stressed.
Speaking further, the Minister said, “we are here today to collect the N10bn of that money from the Ministry of Finance, we are also waiting for the balance of N25bn, while the NDDC would remit its own support when its finance improves.
“Sometimes in October last year, there was a presidential directive that we transfer the road to the Ministry of Works and the Minister, Niger Delta Affairs, has commenced talks with his Works counterpart in that regard.
“Let me also appreciate the effort of the Debt Management Office (DMO). We hope that the outstanding sum of N65bn would be released in due course,” he stated.
Speaking at the symbolic cheque presentation ceremony for the 2021 Sovereign Sukuk Issuance, the Finance Minister, said,” today’s event of N250bn disbursement is the 4th in the circles since 2017 that the special funding for reconstruction, rehabilitation of roads and other key infrastructure as directed by President Buhari.
“I acknowledge the support of the various chambers of the National Assembly to the success of this event of today.”