N14.2billion projects fund; Monitoring, effective assessment, key to diversifying economy

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FEC meeting

On the scheme of outcomes emanating from the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting held on Wednesday, is the approval of no less than N14.2 billion to fund infrastructure projects in some parts of the Country. Two projects which attracts this sum include; the augmentation and variation for Tada Shonga Irrigation Project in Kwara State, which was augmented with additional  N6.9 billion, raising the earmarked funding of the project to N10.18 billion from the initial sum of N3.26 billion. The second project that makes up the 14.2 billion sum is the augmentation of N4.8billion for the Benin-Adumagbae-Igba-Akure road in Edo and Ondo State.

Disclosing the development at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Wednesday, while briefing State House Correspondents at the end of the FEC meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, the Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu,  stated that the abandoned Tada Shonga Irrigation Project which started in 2010, had the completion period of 36 months.

The Minister mentioned that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture made it a priority project because of its huge potential for irrigation, especially for rice production, adding that the variation had increased the size of the project from 1500 hectares to 2,200 hectares of irrigation. Stressing that the irrigation system will be unsustainable with diesel, Adamu disclosed that the variation also included a two-megawatt solar power plant to replace the diesel power plant that was in the original design, given the expensive cost of diesel.

The Minister said in quote: “Council was gracious enough to approve this project because of the huge potentials that it has for the food security policy and our desire to make agriculture a focal instrument of our economy. This project is located in the Niger River Basin. Between the Rivers Niger and Benue Basins, we have potentials for about 1.8 million hectares for irrigation and we’ve been trying to encourage the private sector to also join us in developing these huge areas with great potentials for agriculture and this is one step forward towards developing the irrigation potentials of that Basin.”

On a similar note, the Minister of State for Works and Housing, Abubakar Aliyu disclosed that the FEC at the the same meeting approved N4.8billion being augmentation for the Benin-Adumagbae- Igba-Akure road in Edo and Ondo State.

He said, “We presented a memo to the Council today; which is an augmentation of an ongoing project; it is a road project from Benin-Adumagbae-Igba-Akure Road in Edo and Ondo States. The contract was awarded in Dec. 2013, meaning we have inherited the project and as you all know, it is the decision of President Buhari to continue and complete all ongoing projects. We have reviewed the contract from the original sum of N3.3 billion inclusive of VAT and tax, an increase of about N1.48 billion. It was further reviewed down through the processes of going to BPP to the total sum of N4.8 billion.’’

Giving considerations to the necessity of season and timing, it is of most importance that the Federal Government brace up all efforts toward ensuring the projects are expedited wth standard within due course of time. The necessity of the projects to socio-economic growth and development cannot be overemphasized. On a particular note, the Tada Shonga Irrigation Project in Kwara State is significant in the drive towards diversification of the Country’s economy from sole dependence on oil. The delay of the project from 2010 when it  commenced is a direct set back in the journey towards diversifying the economy.

While it is applaudable that the Federal Government has approved augmenting funds for the project, it is essentially important that the government put all necessary measures in place towards ensuring the funds allocated are effectively and efficiently utilised to bring  the project to a timely completion. The effects of years of  dependence on oil to the neglect of other resourceful sectors of the Nigerian economy, is debilitating the Country in so many ways. Given that the irrigation project is considered to be a boost to diversifying the economy through Agriculture, the Federal Government should give priority to proper monitoring and assessment to ensure the project is done with high standard of quality to meet the demands it is designed for.

The role of road infrastructure cannot be downplayed in the effort towards driving economic growth. Given the strategic importance of the   Benin-Adumagbae-Igba-Akure road in Edo and Ondo State, the onus lies on the Federal Government to similarly effect the project  to completion with the much needed supervision on best standards. The era of merely approving funds for projects without supervisory and follow-up mechanisms, should at this time be a syndrome of the past. The concerned Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs), as well as the Contractors of ongoing projects should be given closed marking based on  hierarchical chain of managerial supervisions. These measures should be sustained and not limited to just these projects in view; but rather should be extended to all other sectoral projects every of which is key to socio-economic growth and development in the Country.

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