The federal government has refuted the allegation by governors of the South East geopolitical zone that the Buhari administration had failed the region in the provision of infrastructure. The minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who made the rebuttal yesterday, disclosed that 69 federal projects were ongoing in the region, adding that the administration had spent N16.6 billion on the rehabilitation and reconstruction of four roads in the South East. Mohammed made this clarification in response to a statement credited to South East governors to the effect that the federal government has neglected the region in the distribution of infrastructural projects. LEADERSHIP Friday recalls that governors of the South East states had two days ago criticised the federal government on execution of projects in the zone, saying the region was short-changed in the implementation of capital projects in the 2017 budget.
The governors spoke through the director general of South-East Governors Forum, Prof. Simon Otuanya, who presented a monitoring report on the performance of the 2017 federal capital budget in the South East. Otunaya had said: “The capital projects implementation in 2017 did not fare well at all in South East states. The roads have remained impassable and so the federal government should please do better in 2018 and we hope that the federal government will make the improvement.” The South East governors asserted that they were interested in the 2017 approved budget because it was linked with the 2017-2020 Economic Recovery and Growth Plan of the present administration.
But speaking in Ilorin, Kwara State at the inauguration of canvassers for the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari/Yemi Osinbajo in 2019, he insisted that the region did not lack federal presence, adding while it is right to ask for more, it is unfair to say nothing has been done in the zone. He said, “Permit me to use this platform to rebut the statement credited to governors of the South East geopolitical zone that the federal government has failed the zone in the provision of infrastructure. “While this claim may have made headlines, it is totally untrue; the governors were either misquoted or they were quoted out of context. Either way, this allegation flies in the face of available evidence. “I make bold to say that no part of the country, including the South East, has been left out of the massive infrastructural projects of this administration.
In fact, a total of 69 federal government projects are currently ongoing in the South East.” Mohammed added that federal government would soon publish the full list of the projects and the state-by-state breakdown. The minister continued: “Suffice it to say that the South East, just like other geo-political zones, got N16.6 billion worth of projects from the proceeds of the N100 billion Sukuk Bond shared equally among the six zones. “Federal government is currently rehabilitating four roads in the zone. The four roads being rehabilitated and reconstructed by the proceeds of the Sukuk Bond are: Enugu-Port Harcourt Dual Carriageway Section II (Umuahia Tower-Aba township rail/road bridge crossing in Abia State; Enugu-Port Harcourt Dual Carriageway Section I (Lokpanta – Umahia Tower) in Abia State; outstanding section of the Onitsha-Enugu Expressway (Amansea – Enugu State Border); Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway Section III (Enugu-Lokpanta) in Enugu State “In addition to these roads, we also inspected the N40 billion Aba-Port Harcourt section of the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway- a strategic road linking Aba and other industrial heartland of the East with Port Harcourt, the nation’s oil hub. “Let me say that these projects were awarded by the last administration which, however, failed to provide funding.
As a matter of fact, a section of the Enugu-Port Harcourt road, which cuts across many states, was turned to a refuse dump before this administration came to the rescue. “Then there is the construction of the Second Niger Bridge, which we also inspected. The ground-breaking of the construction of the Second Niger Bridge was performed on 10th March, 2014 but could not take of until 2017. “The bridge, which is 1.59-kilometre in length, forms part of the 11.90-kilometre project. The contractor, Julius Berger, has completed the first three phases of the project, which have to do with the sub-structures. They are currently on the fourth phase, which is at 70 percent completion stage. Some 310 of the 615 piles designed for the bridge have been sunk while massive sandfilling of the approach road has been carried out to the height of five metres. The targeted height is seven metres. The project is being solely financed by the federal government.” Lai Mohammed insisted that the South East had never enjoyed the kind of attention on the issue infrastructural projects that it is getting from the current administration. “The South East has never had it so good in the area of infrastructure. Had the previous administrations done even half of what we are doing now in that region, no one will be complaining today. It is all rght to ask for more, but it is unfair to say nothing has been done, “ the minister said.
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