Following the criticism he has received in recent times on the deplorable state of the East-West Road and its non-completion, the Minister of Niger-Delta Affairs, Godsday Orubebe, Thursday promised that the Federal Government would complete the project by December 2014.
Orubebe, whose assurance came a few days after he made similar one in Benin City last weekend, said the road project which was about 53 per cent completed, is not as bad as many of his political detractors claimed.
Speaking in Lagos yesterday, the minister said it was lack of funds that stalled the project, noting that so far only N1.2 billion was provided for the project as against the approved N200 billion.
He added that apart from lack of funds, insecurity was a major problem to why the project has not been completed.
The minister appealed to the people of the Niger Delta to encourage the contractors handling the project and stop kidnapping them so that the project would be completed on schedule
Speaking, Orubebe disclosed that "In 2006, former President Olusegun Obasanjo awarded the East-West Road contract for over N200 billion", saying "this was a project that was awarded for N200 billion and what was provided was N1.2billion as against what was approved."
He continued: "the project was expected to have been completed in 2009. A project of this magnitude requires a survey and detailed design that will take not less than one year, but because of the pressure, the president gave them only two weeks and they came back with what we call just ordinary base line survey. The contractors had no money, it was in 2009, when this project was handed over to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs that we had to spend the whole of 2009 and 2010 to draw detailed design for this projects. There were no funding programmes for this project and later the detailed designs were completed in 2010."
According to him, "it is from 2010 that we have financial grant for the road. Anytime I want to talk at the National Executive meeting, my colleagues either call me East-West road or Niger-Delta. I stand to say this road must be completed because this is where the resources from this nation come from.
"And when I come home, people who do not know how I struggled, people who do not know and care to know about how far we have gone, talk in the pages of newspapers and television and even in Abuja to say that government is not doing anything.
"For the first time in the history of Nigeria under President Goodluck Jonathan's administration, 2013 East-West road project is provided with N120 billion. I say these things to let you know that you have the president who is determined with a passion to develop the Niger Delta."