Usani Usani, minister of Niger Delta, says the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission will prosecute 40 contractors for the delivering faulty designs on federal contracts including the East-West road, a project he says was designed to fail.
The minister made this known while addressing state house correspondents after the federal executive council (FEC) meeting which was presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Usani told reporters that the council approved N16 billion for the construction of the headquarters of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), which would be sited in Port Harcourt.
“The East-West road is a project that has been messed up from inception, naturally designed to fail by all the agreements and designed concepts that we have seen,” he said.
“And here we are making sure that we put things in order so that we can see the terminal point of that project.
“If the project started more than a decade ago and in 24 months, we have made the progress we have made on that project, correcting even the construction deficits in the area, then I think you should be able to appreciate what we are doing.
“When you talk of N16 billion as if it is so relevant in completing the East-West road, I wish to tell you that the outstanding certificate on the East-West road amount to N30 billion. So if we put N16 billion there, in fact one and the other are not substitutes. Two of them are essential infrastructure projects that must go on, so it doesn’t mean that if we put that money on the East-West road then it satisfies the needs of housing the NDDC.
“The Niger Delta region has a prime position in our preference to develop the area and so there are no substitutes. So, even if we are not going to do the NDDC headquarters it doesn’t mean we will complete the East-West road. There are all important and I want you to get that into your mind.
“I have said East-West road was designed to fail and we are doing everything to correct that concept. Which means if it was designed to fail it was gone but now it’s being revived.”
He said the road had already gulped N300 billion, yet not much progress has been made.
“We have spent N300 billion on the East-West road and yet the project has not made much progress,” he said.
“I’m doing a review of the entire contract of the East West road because without that nothing will ever happen on that road talkless of completion. If you have spent N300 billion and you are where you are then… the design, negotiations, contract everything is wrong.
“You designed a project of that nature and give it a lifespan or seven years and then no designs in some sectors and yet you are attributing cost to it. So by what means did you have the elements of costing? These are verifiable facts at any time.
“Right now, I have gotten some of these contracts and I’m sending them to the EFCC, not just for the East-West road. I have got a minimum of 30 to 40 contractors that I am sending to EFCC. On the East-West road, I have taken a private consultant to review the whole cost, so some contractors will obviously refund money for which the present cost will be discounted.
“So when you see contractors ganging up and publishing things against me, you should know the foundation. But as far as I am here, I will do something that I feel is right.”
The administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo awarded the East-West road at N211 billion in 2006 but the government of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan raised it to N726 billion.
The 675km dual-carriage road, which stretches from Cross River to Delta, is meant to open up the entire Niger Delta states linking all major oil towns, beginning from Oron, Uyo to Calabar and the Atlantic Ocean, up to Itu and Eket in Akwa Ibom, Port Harcourt and Ahoada (Rivers), Kaiama (Bayelsa), and Warri (Delta), up to Benin.
The road also includes an additional 23.9km included by Jonathan to link Calabar at with oceanic town of Oron in Akwa Ibom.