Thirty contractors will soon face the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over the East-West Road project and other projects, it was learnt yesterday.
Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Usani Uguru Usani broke the news while briefing State House correspondents at the end of Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
He said the FEC approved N16 billion for the completion of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) headquarters building.
According to Usani, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration is doing everything possible to put the East-West Road project on track.
But while responding to a question on why N16 billion was approved for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) headquarters building when the fund will go a long way to complete the East-West Road project, he said that the East West Road project was designed to fail.
The minister said: “Sometimes when questions or concerns come from the public, you provoke our thoughts to get back to our sense of history.
“The 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. And here we are making sure that we put things in order so that we can see the terminal point of that project.
“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.
“One, 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 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. They are all important and I want you to get that into your mind.”
On how much has been spent on the road, Usani said: “We have spent N300 billion on the East-West Road and yet the project has not made much progress.
“I’m doing a review of the entire contract of the road because without that, nothing will ever happen on that road; talk less of completion. The design, negotiations and 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.”
Asked if government plans to prosecute those that designed faulty contracts, the minister said: “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 contractors that I am sending to EFCC.
“On the East-West road, I have taken a private consultants 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.”
He noted that it would be wise to complete the building instead of spending N2 billion rent yearly in 13 years.