By Abujah Racheal
The Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs has urged Rivers and Akwa Ibom state governments to pay their 30 per cent required counterpart funding for the European Union (EU) water project.
The Minister, The Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani made the call in an interview with our correspondents in Abuja on Saturday.
He explained that the two states risk losing over 200 million euros grant by the end of January, If they fail to pay the required counterpart funding for the water project.
He said that five states were captured in the current phase of water and sanitation intervention development by the European Union (EU).
”Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, states have paid their 30 per cent counterpart fund of N350 million each, while Rivers and Akwa Ibom are yet to pay.
The Minister, however, said grace for extension of time has been used up by the two states.
According to him, such grace has been explored thrice between 2012 and 2015, hence, no such grace is available in accordance with EU rules.
“The ministry would physically meet with the defaulting Governors to ensure that the states fulfil their part of the agreement.”
Usani disclosed that the Delta, Edo and Bayelsa State governments had shown interest in providing more counterpart funds than stipulated in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), to widen the scope of the projects in their respective states.
The minister said the payment would benefit the states even more because of the present devaluation of the Naira as against the Euro, which makes the cost in Euros for the project less than expected at the time of the design.
”Edo and Delta States are even ready to increase their share of the available 12 million euros by increasing further their counterpart funds,” he said
Usani said that the EU delegation to the Ministry was willing to ensure the sustainability of the Niger Delta Support Programme (NDSP) components programme.
He added that the ministry would create a budget line for the EU-Water Support Programme in the 2017 budget proposal.
He also requested for an extension of NDSP technical assistance for effective monitoring and the training of MNDA staff for sustenance of the EU projects in the region.
He, however, requested for EU’s direct engagement with the Ministry in the future, especially on 11 European Development Fund (EDF)
“I requested for an engagement with EU on the National Indicative Programme in the realisation of its mandate towards the nine oil producing states in the region.
“Other areas are Sustainable Energy and Access to Electricity, Rule of Law, Governance and Democracy, he added.
Recall that the NDSP has four components comprising employment opportunities and social services, public finance management, water and sanitation and micro-projects.
The objective is to mitigate the conflicts in the region by addressing the main causes of unrest and violence.
The water and sanitation components of this programme was mainly to enhance access to safe, adequate and sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene services.