Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja and Olusegun Samuel in Yenagoa
Obviously reacting to the grumblings in the oil-producing regions of Nigeria about the imbalance in the allocation of the 621 billion naira road intervention fund approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) yesterday gave a breakdown of what each region will achieve when implementing the projects.
Some groups in the Niger Delta, notably the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) had raised questions earlier today, pointing out that the projects were unfairly distributed, especially since the resources came from the region.
Of the 1804.6 kilometers of roads to be developed, the whole of the South obtained about 455 kilometers, while the North region was allocated 1,347 kilometers.
On Wednesday, the FEC approved the 621.2 billion naira for the NNPC to support the reconstruction of 21 federal highways through the six geopolitical zones of the country in a meeting chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
The approval was a response to the threat of a strike by the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), which denounced the loss of its members and their properties on dilapidated roads.
The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, who spoke after the FEC meeting, said the approval was in line with Executive Decree No.007 of 2019 cited as the income tax of companies (Route Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme)
In total, he explained that the selected roads were 1804.6 kilometers, stressing that this was a strategic intervention.
The minister explained that the decree allows the private sector to deploy in advance the taxes it would pay for infrastructure development, adding that nine of the selected projects were in the center-north, three in the northeast. , two in the north-west, two in the south-east, three in the south-south and two in the southwest.
But the aggrieved youth argued that while, for example, the Bida-Minna road in Niger state covers a distance of 791.1 km, in the same Niger state, the entire Niger Delta region n only 81.9 km designated for repair.
In addition, the angry youth pointed to the reconstruction of the Bida-Lambata road of about 125 km, the Mokwa-Makera-Tagina-Kaduna state border of 164 km, Illorin-Jebba, Kwara state of 110.8 km, the Bali-Serti road in Taraba state 110 km as some of the northern roads that will be reconstructed.
Leaders of the central area of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) have expressed their displeasure with the non-inclusion of Bayelsa state, especially in the 21 approved routes.
The group’s president in the region, Clever Inodu, criticized the NNPC for “channeling all available resources without resorting to connecting the main destinations of oil activities to the rest of the country”.
But a statement entitled: “Cost / Propagation of roads by the NNPC within the framework of the tax credit program for investment and development of road infrastructure FG”, signed by the spokesperson of the organization, Garba Muhammad , said last night that the 81.9 kilometers south-south would swallow up about 172 billion naira of the funds.
The 252.7 kilometers to travel in the southwest will cost 81.8 billion naira, the 122 kilometers in the southeast will consume 43.2 billion naira, while the 791.1 kilometers to the center-north will consume 244 billion naira. of nairas, the 273.3 kilometers to the northeast will take N56.1 billion and the northwest with 283.5 kilometers will take N23 billion respectively.
“The NNPC once again expresses its gratitude to the FEC for its timely approval of the start of the project and to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) for its support,” the statement said.
As a general rule, building infrastructure in the Niger Delta is more expensive due to the nature of the terrain, which is mainly riverine, unlike the north which has mainly drylands.