President Muhammadu Buhari deserves commendation for putting the East-West Road project back on track 13 years after the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) began it but used it as a conduit pipe to siphon billions of naira of public funds, the Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) has said.
BMO said in a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke, that it is instructive that the President Buhari administration is set to complete the East-West road without any fuss, using the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF).
The group recalled that previous PDPadministrations had committed 300billion Naira to the project between 2006 when it was conceived by the Obasanjo administrations and 2015, but it was nowhere near completion.
“The East-West Road was originally conceived as a 657-kilometre dual carriageway from Calabar, Cross Rivers State to Warri, Delta State in 2006 and valued at N211bn, but was reviewed upwards by N72bn by the Goodluck Jonathan administration which increased the distance by an additional 23.9 kilometres.
“Nearly half of the contract sum was paid to various contractors over the years but, according to the Niger Delta Affairs Minister Usani Uguru Usani in 2017, the project was designed to fail from the outset.
“Many people have also expressed concern that a project that began in the twilight years of the Obasanjo administration was not completed by two other PDP administrations in a period that spanned nine years.
“There were also stories about how some of the contractors supplying sand insisted on being paid in US dollars while some ministers also used it as slush funds for political patronage”, it said.
BMO added that it was not surprised that the Buhari administration had to review the contract in order to pave way for a successful completion of the road project.
It said “We at BMO know that a Presidential inter-ministerial team was sent on an assessment tour of Sections 1 to 4 of the East-West Road in 2018 which showed that the contractors would require N100bn to complete the all-important road.
“The President has since given his approval, and, unlike the situation in the recent past where Senate President Bukola Saraki opted to, willy-nilly, cut allocations to major projects, the government would be funding the completion of the flagship road from the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF).
“It is one of five major construction works including the the new Abuja-Kaduna-Kano Expressway, the Second Niger Bridge and the Mambila Power Plant that the Buhari administration identified as priority projects to be funded by the PIDF which is managed by the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA)”.
BMO added that it would not be surprised to see PDP elements shamelessly claiming credit for starting the East-West Road after President Muhammadu Buhari may have completed it before the end of his second term in office.