BY ANAYO ONUKWUGHA
Communities in Opobo/Nkoro and Akuku-Toru local government areas of Rivers State, has called on Governor Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike to intervene to fast-track the release of the state government’s counterpart fund for the European Union water projects in the communities.
Wike had few months ago approved the release of N100 million as the state government’s remaining contribution for the water projects by EU under it’s Niger Delta Support Programme (NDSP), aimed at providing potable water for communities in five states in the Niger Delta region, including Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo and Rivers.
Addressing journalists at the Ernest Ikoli Press Centre, Port Harcourt, Chairman of the Federation of Water Consumers Association (FWCA), Iwarimie Hezekiah Diri, said the EU has given the state government and the communities up to Tuesday, July 18, 2017, to pay the remaining fund or forget about the projects.
Diri stayed that due to the failure of the state government to release the fund, the communities got a letter from the EU and NDSP informing them of the suspension of the launch of tender for the commencement of the water projects.
He said, “We came here to appeal to His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Rivers State, Chief Barrister Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike, who had earlier promised to be part of this project. After the press conference here, His Excellency graciously approved the release of the fund needed for the project.
“We are very grateful to him. We also know that to approve and the release of money do not come the same time because of government procedure. We are expecting that the money will be released, but because of urgent state matters or requirements, the governor must have forgotten.
“Yesterday, we were slammed with a mail from the EU and NDSP because the tender for the project was to be launched today and we were expecting it yesterday. But instead of the launch of the tender, we got a mail from the suspending the launch of the tender.
“In fact, that sent shock on our spine and we have to start calling our members and asking of what to do and up till now, most of us have not slept well because of the efforts we have put since 2014 when this project started and the commitment we are making even in our various communities to make the project come through.
“The last time we came here, market women, those who sell periwinkle, those who sell firewood made contributions towards our own 5% counterpart funding to see to the success of this project in our communities. We do not know how to get back to our communities to tell them this news. We have also tried to reach out to our various community leaders to tell them what is happening if they can also lend their voices.
“We are also in touch with the Desk Officer of EU and NDSP in Abuja to ask that he plead on our behalf considering the effort those of us from these communities have made to make sure that these projects cone to fruition, that they should give us some time to see if His Excellency will urge those who involved to releases the fund after he had approved. That is basically why we are here.”