Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
The inability of five South-South states, including Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo and Rivers to provide a counterpart fund of N1 billion, may rob them of a N2.4 billion European Union(EU) fund for water projects in the Niger Delta region.
Packaged under the Niger Delta Support Programme-(NDSP)-Water Sanitation (WS), the projects were designed in such a way that each of the states was expected to pay N200 million as counterpart funds.
However, only Delta State has so far paid 50 per cent of the counterpart fund for the projects targeted to impact positively on the lives of over 17.8 million people across the five states.
Due to the failure of the states to meet their obligation, the ongoing contracts works on the stand the risk of being cancelled by the end of this month.
The leader of Niger Delta Support Programme, Mr. Albert Aldllin, who led other members on a visit to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Uguru Usani Uguru, in Abuja, yesterday, appealed to the minister to urgently intervene by persuading the governors of the affected states to act without further delay.
Expressing concern on the consequences on the region should the EU, withdraw the funds, Aldllin warned that the benefiting communities may not find the development palatable.
“The N2.4 billion from the European Union, EU, is about to be lost as the states are unable to pay and the deadline is end of May 2016.
All the works contracts risk being cancelled. Beneficiary communities who have paid their 5 per cent contribution will feel betrayal with loss of faith in government and their partners.
“Minister, the communities are appealing to you through us to mount pressures on their governors to play their parts by paying the counterpart funds to ensure completion of these projects. If we don’t act in few days ahead the European Union will terminate the project because they will accept any extension beyond the stipulated period,” adding, “They could only approach the EU if a half billion (N500m) is made available.”
“The general objective of the NDSP designed to cover between 2013 to 2017 is to mitigate the conflict in the Niger Delta by addressing the main causes of unrest and violence; bad governance, youth unemployment, poor delivery of basic services.
“EU is funding (grant) 100 per cent of the project except for the works for which 30 per cent counterpart funds are required (total N1 billion, excluding the rural component) 50 per cent of the works value are also required from the communities for future O&M,” Aldllin said
On the status of the projects policies, the team leader explained that, that of Rivers State is being implemented and Edo state is approved while that of Bayelsa, Edo and Akwa Ibom is well in advance stages.
Responding, Uguru promised to pass across the messages to the governors of benefiting states, adding that water is life.
He promised that the ministry would impress on the states the urgency of the matter to avoid the region losing the N2.4 billion EU grant.