The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has raised the alarm over the preponderance of redundant skill acquisition centers worth over N8 billion in the Niger Delta.
Akpabio made the disclosure yesterday at a roundtable on Strategic Implementation Work Plan (SIWP) with relevant ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), development partners and key stakeholders in Abuja.
Represented by the Minister of State, Senator Omotayo Alasoadura, Akpabio stated: “For example, a community in Ondo State where three acquisition centres were built came to the ministry saying they don’t know what to do with them, requesting that the Federal Government should convert one of facilities to a university.
“Though I told them that a university cannot be acquired through that means, but there have been steps by the ministry to convert the one built by the government to a federal polytechnic so that they can make good use of it, as it is currently a complete waste.”
He said: “Over N8 billion was spent in building the facilities. For how long are we going to do that? No! We cannot continue like this.”
Akpabio stressed that the region’s budget must revolve around communal needs, explaining: “The roundtable is to ensure that development activities in the Niger Delta where different organisations – both private and government are doing the same thing in the same community – do not continue because it does not allow for the growth of the region.”
He noted that the SIWP was conceived as a collaborative framework to coordinate interventions of governmental and non-governmental institutions in the oil-rich area.
Recalling that the concept was a brainchild of several high-level political conversations facilitated by the office of the Vice President in 2016, Akpabio added that the SIWP enjoys the technical support of the United Kingdom government through the Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN).
The ex-Akwa Ibom governor continued: “I wish to remind you all that the SIWP is not a new programme. It is rather an aspect of a broader stakeholders’ engagement process and a foundational document of a development compact for the Niger Delta region which evolved out of the need for an effective tool that would enable the ministry to operationalise its coordination mandate of development initiatives in the region.
“To actualise the implementation of the SIWP, the ministry, through the technical support of SDN, developed a digital information management system portal (https://siwp.na) with a mobile app imbued with project-tracking and GIS features to strengthen monitoring and evaluation framework.”