December 18, 2022
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Umana Okon Umana, has named the construction of 1,874km of roads, the completion of 44 electrification projects, and the provision of 162 potable water facilities as part of the achievements of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in the Niger Delta region during the last seven years. Making this known during a presentation for his ministry at the 20th edition of the Buhari administration scorecard series in Abuja on Wednesday, Umana said the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs completed more than 393km of the roads while the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) accounted for more than 1,481km of them.
Umana reported that the roads, water and electricity projects were delivered across the nine states of the Niger Delta region. The Minister said during the period the Ministry and the NDDC also delivered 288 transformers, 11,411 solar-powered street lamp posts, 44 school projects, 17 agro-processing plants, 21 social centres, and 15 market stalls to the region. Other highlights in the Minister’s briefing included the completion of the head office building of the NDDC in Port Harcourt, and the construction of a multi-skills acquisition centre with 500-student boarding capacity in each of the nine states of the Niger Delta region. The skills acquisition centre in Bayelsa State was completed and handed over to the Federal University of Otuoke, he said, adding that two other centres completed in Ondo and Imo are awaiting presidential approval for handover to tertiary institutions in those states.
According to the Minister, the total tally of hard infrastructure projects in various sectors delivered by government to the Niger Delta region during the reporting period stands at 2, 786, made up of 580 delivered by the Ministry and 2, 206 by the NDDC.
In terms of social programmes, the Minister said 6, 293 women and youths were trained and empowered with cash and equipment worth N5.5 billion. Each of the trainees received cash support ranging from N300,000 to N500,000 and starter-packs. Materials delivered to the trainees included tractors, tricycles, sewing, grinding and hair-dressing machines.
According to him, among the trainees were 3,864 non-militant youths and women who were trained in agriculture and its value chain, while 224 motorized tillers were delivered to the farmers. Training was also mounted for 75 youths in maritime dredging and photography, he said. The Minister said about 5000 youths and community stakeholders were engaged in peace and security programmes during the period.
Umana explained that the key policy focus of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs during the period included maintenance of peace and security, coordination of development initiatives based on the harmonization of the various development plans into one holistic roadmap, and the repositioning of the NDDC for effective service delivery. He explained that the forensic audit ordered by government into the activities of the Commission and the subsequent publication in the media of both completed and cancelled projects under the Commission were part of the repositioning process for transparency and accountability. Government had directed, based on the recommendations of the forensic auditors, that contracts for 4000 projects should be terminated for non-performance. Of this number, the Minister said, details of 1,250 have been published in the media, adding that more would be published.
He said the Ministry was deepening transparency and accountability with the publication of annual reports and a statistical digest on its operations, and promised to further strengthen good governance with the publication of compendiums of completed projects by both the Ministry and NDDC in the first quarter of next year.
Umana thanked President Buhari for showing a special interest in the development of the Niger Delta region as demonstrated in his nomination of members of the governing board of the NDDC to the National Assembly for approval and for approving the release of NDDC money recovered from oil companies for use in the development of core infrastructure projects in the region.
The Minister acknowledged and praised his predecessors in office, Pastor Usani Usani and Senator Godswill Akpabio “for their contributions to the development of the region,” which he said had formed part of the success story of the Ministry.