The National Assembly has moved to ensure the release of funds to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs for the completion of the East-West road. Speaking during the 2022 budget defence session by the ministry, Chairman, House Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Essien Ayi, said, ” what I believe we lawmakers should do on the issue of the East-West road is to see to how we can meet with the leadership of the Senate and House of Representatives to fashion out ways in which a substantial amount of money would be approved and released to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs for the completion of this very important road”.
Ayi said, “A situation where a paltry N10bn is allocated for the East- West road yearly is not a sign that the road would be completed in the next 20 years. I have had more than four oversight visits to this particular road and I am tired of this yearly rituals. It is time those concerned met and bail out the ministry from this inadequate funding so that this important and economically viable road is completed for the use and benefit of all Nigerians, particularly, Niger Deltans.”
A member of the committee Oghene Egoh said with the poor yearly budgetary provision for the ministry, there was no way it could achieve what it was expected to achieve, especially on the East-West road. He said, “Going by the enormity of work expected of the ministry, as far as the East-West road is concerned, the sum of N10bn every year in the budget for that road will do little or nothing. “This is the road that leads to where the resources that is used to run this country is located. For the completion of this road to linger on for close to 20 years is enough to cause unrest in the region. I will suggest that the chairman of this committee, with some members, meet with the Minister (Godswill Akpabio) to discuss on what is really needed to complete this road. This road must have a terminal date.”
Akpabio disclosed that over N359 billion has so far been expended on the 657km dual carriage road, stretching from Calabar in Cross River State to Effurun in Delta State since it was initiated in 2006. He said, “Bearing in mind the objectives of the Muhammadu Buhari administration on the completion of ongoing projects, the ministry was considering raising funds from other sources to ensure the completion of Section I-IV of the road before the end of this administration.” He said the ministry was created to, among other things, “to implement policies for the infrastructure, environmental, human development and security of the Niger Delta region”.
The former Akwa Ibom State governor added, “The preparation of the ministry’s budget was conceived in line with the Federal Government 2022 Budget of Economic Growth and Sustainability premised on repositioning the economy on path of growth and resilience.” Presenting a total budgetary proposal of N28,131,295,396, the minister noted that ‘the ministry ensured that core projects were consistent with the Administration’s Agenda Policies/strategies contained in the Medium Term National Development Plan (MTNDP), 2021- 2025, according priority to ongoing projects”.