The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Elder Godsday Peter Orubebe has emphasized the imperative for a close and cordial working relationship between the ministry and all the relevant banks and other financial institutions to help realize the ministry’s statutory mandate of formulating and coordinating policies for the development and security of the Niger Delta region.
Orubebe said this in his office today during an interactive session between top functionaries of the ministry and chief executives and other Directors of banks that transacts official business with the ministry.
The minister said as a ministry primarily created to fast-track the infrastructural development of the Niger Delta region, it had to collaborate with the relevant banks that would provide the funds to the contractors to facilitate smooth execution of the multifarious projects of the ministry to give a new lease of life to the communities of the region; but he deplored a situation where contractors were unable to access funds already sent to the banks by the ministry , thereby slowing down the pace of the ministry’s operations. He said a visit to the Skills acquisition project sites would show that work was not going on as it should because banks have brought in all sorts of conditions which were not in the initial agreements signed before the contractors could access the funds; he expressed the displeasure of President Jonathan on this state of affairs because of his passion to put things right as soon as possible.
He reiterated that all necessary procurement procedures were undertaken before the contractors were engaged; In this wise, according him, it would be an indictment on the banks to give a valid advance payment guarantee only for them to turn around and question the competence of the contractors. Orubebe therefore called on the bankers to smoothen all grey areas in respect of this situation so that the ministry would not compromise its mission of fast-tracking development because he considered the banks as partners in this enterprise.
In their submission, Mr. innocent Ibe while pledging their full cooperation with the ministry, emphasized that financial institutions had to ensure the security of their funds and the funds held in trust for their clients; they also had to ensure that the funds were utilized in strict compliance with the terms of the contractual agreements, he added. Mr. Ibe said a bank would not disburse funds without taking cognizance of the milestones achieved by the contractor. This, according to him referred to specific objectives and stages to be reached by the contractor while executing the project. Speaking in the same vein, his colleagues charged the ministry to tackle the issue of security where some communities denied contractors access to the project sites, there by stalling the smooth execution of the projects. They pleaded with the Minister to understand the stringent regulatory conditions imposed on them by the Central Bank, while also conceding that fundamental objective of the ministry to empower the people through contract awards like these without difficult collateral requirements.
Also at the meeting were the Minister of State, Hon. Samuel Ode, Permanent Secretary, Dr. Yahaya Abdullahi, and other top officials of the ministry.