Inability of the Cross River state government to pay counterpart funding is threatening over N10 billion World Bank and European Union-United Nations Children Fund (EU-UNICEF) projects in the State, the Pillar Today reliably gathered.
Although the State Coordinator for Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP), Dr Fidelis Anukwa could not be reached for comments on some of the said projects, sources said continuous works on project sites were stalled because of the issue of counterpart funding.
Our source, who preferred anonymity, said “We suppose to do new sites like Ikot Uduak in Calabar Municipal, Itache and Igaba in Ogoja local government area and few other places by now but the delay in completion of previous projects have stalled their award and take off. They are all tied to the issue of non release of counterpart funding by the state.
“But what is really disturbing for now is the non release of funds by the state government to enable NEWMAP pay contractors for the construction of awarded roads linking already completed erosion sites of Ikot Awatim, Ikot Ekpo and Nyagasang in Calabar Municipal”.
Findings by Pillar Today showed that work is progressing at Ikot Nkebre erosion site after similar initial delay due to some powerful interest within the corridors of power that stalled the project a year after takeoff. But the issue of compensation to the community is still unpaid as it is also tied to the outstanding counterpart funding.
Work at the World Bank sponsored N3 billion Ikot Nkebre erosion site had restarted in November last year after it was stalled in 2017 due to conflicting interest.
It was further gathered that nonpayment of counterpart funding is also affecting projects of
World Bank Youth Employment and Social Support Operation (YESSO), the Federal government and European Union -United Nations Children Fund (EU-UNICEF) projects.
Top sources in government house in Calabar said the state is broke and is just managing to pay salaries from the little that comes from the Federation Account and other meager sources.
“You can see the state is even indebted to some workers in the agencies, commissions and departments and we are owing gratuities of over N35 billion to retired civil servants of between 2014 and 2016”, one of our sources stated.
Worried by this situation, the State government through the Secretary to the State Government, Tina Agbor had recently wrote to the State House of Assembly to revalidate their earlier approval of N2.5 billion loan from United Bank for Africa (UBA) to enable the state meet up with its counterpart funding to access the World Bank funds and others for projects in the state.
A statement from the Assembly issued by its Information Officer, Mrs Itam Offor said, “the State Lawmakers have granted Governor Ben Ayade’s request for a resolution to revalidate a credit facility of N1, 510,664,674.26 from United Bank for Africa PLC offered at an interest rate of 15%, management fee of 1% per annum and repayable over 36 months”.
Offor said, “the Lawmakers had deliberated on a letter signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Barr. Tina Agbor, conveying the Governor’s request which is for the purpose of financing the Counterpart funding requirement to access funds from the federal government of Nigeria.
“The letter indicated that the State Executive Council had earlier at its CRSEXCO 2018/5th meeting held on 25th May 2018 approved acceptance of an offer of credit facility of N2.5 Billion from UBA to finance States Counterpart funding for the World Bank/Federal Government and EU-UNICEF for development projects for 2019, adding that the balance of N999, 335, 325, 74 will be NEWMAP Projects”