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The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani, said that the ministry would require N850 billion to complete all abandoned projects in the region.

Usani disclosed this while addressing newsmen on Tuesday in Abuja.

He said that the ministry was determined to complete all projects awarded by the previous administration but were abandoned in order for them to become beneficial to the people of the region.

According to him, a situation where over N400 billion was spent on projects awarded by the ministry since inception with only 12 per cent execution would no longer be tolerated.

He said this administration would hold contractors responsible to ensure that all projects initiated in the region would not be abandoned.

The minister noted that most of the contractors were from the region that collected the project money and disappeared, thereby resulting to avalanche of project abandonment, hence depriving the people of enjoy the projects.

Usani said that the ministry, under him, inherited outstanding liabilities of N34 billion on projects implemented as at last year.

He added that payment to contractors for any certificate for project execution would be strictly determined by the use of the audit report of the ministry.

“It is difficult to say the exact amount required for the projects execution because the introduction of projects into our implementation plan is of course more sacrosanct, knowing that even training of youths and vocational training are all projects.

“Besides, it is useful to know that on the daily basis, as payments are being made, it is equally accessing the balances on accounts on the projects.

“But one thing I know is that as at the end of last year, the ministry had outstanding liabilities on projects of more than N34 billion.

“So to conclude all we have in the ministry, we will be talking towards N800 billion to N1 trillion. That is my calculative imagination,” he said.

The minister, however, said works on the section 5 of the 388 Kilometre dual projects cannot take off now due to some identified technical flaws arising from the designing of the project.

Usani said apart from the faulty alignment on the design, while the project cost was negotiated in Naira, the contract was signed in Dollars, hence making the entire transactions questionable.

On the ministry’s flagship project, which is the East-West road dualisation, he said that it had mobilised the contractors handling the four sections of the highways to the project sites.

This is upon completion of the work of audit committee, which audited all projects awarded by the ministry in the region,’’ he said.

The minister said that the ministry was able to mobilise contractors to various sites after payment of N4 billion to them.

He promised that more funds would be provided to them as the ministry still expected more funds accruing to it from the 2016 budgetary allocation.

Usani reassured that the ministry would ensure the training of more non militant youths in the areas of ICT, agriculture, fishery and also ensure completion of the skill acquisition centres in the region.

He said the ministry had made provision in the 2016 budget for the training of 150 youths, particularly in the area of ICT.

According to him, the training will commence very soon.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the ministry recently graduated youths in agriculture, ICT and seafarers.

We have over 269 youths from the region that have benefited in the mobile phone assemblage.

“We have 130 youths who were trained in the International Skills Acquisition Centre in Israel and have been empowered with the sum of N1million, in collaboration with the Bank of Agriculture.

“The ministry also trained 30 youths as Seafarers to bridge the skill gap in the maritime sector and very soon they will graduate to be awarded with certificates of international standard, ” he said.

He underscored the importance of youths in the socio-economic and political development of any country, assuring that the ministry would continue to initiate programmes that would equip the youth for future challenges.

“It is my belief that when we develop and empower young people, we are bound to reduce crime and violence in the Niger Delta region.’’

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