The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved the sum of N28,773 billion for the rehabilitation of roads across the country.
FEC which was chaired by President Goodluck Jonathan also approved 28 sundry projects costing N98.5 billion for nine states of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), covering roads, bridges, erosion, land reclamation, education and power supply, for implementation between now and 2014.
Briefing pressmen after the weekly council meeting the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku who briefed alongside the Ministers of Health, Prof Onyebuchi Chukuw, Works, Mike Onolememen, Education Prof Ruqqayat Rufai, Culture and Tourism, Edem Duke and Water Resources Sarah Ochekpe said Jonathan ordered the rehabilitation of roads in the country ahead of yuletide while taking advantage of the dry season which is favourable for road construction.
Minister of Works, said the roads include 21km Wudil-Achika Darki-Jigawa road (N4.39b); and Kontagora-Rijau-Tunga Magajia (N3.6b out of a total of N16.7b).
There are also 26.27km Nnenwe-Uduma -Uburu in Enugu/ Ebonyi States, including Ishiagu-Mile 2 road (N11.6b); Auchi Poly-Ekperi-Uzea-One (with Spur to Fugar) - Afuda-Usugbenun Road, Water Works Ivue-Ibore-Irrua Road (N8.9b) and rehabilitation of Funtua-Gusau-Sokoto road, to be augmented with N306.9m to a final cost of N3.43 billion.
He explained that the traffic congestion experienced on Abuja-Keffi road, a dual-carriageway, is caused largely by the Abacha barracks at the Abuja end of the road.
Also approved by the Council is the execution of the Zungeru hydro-power project in Niger State that will provide 700MW of electricity as against 900MW postulated earlier. It will be funded by the China EXIM bank to the tune of N162.9b, and will be constructed by a Chinese firm on Build-Operate-Transfer arrangement.
The Shagari irrigation project started in 2007 in Sokoto state is also to be completed with additional N317.92 million to bring totl cost to N1.16 billion.
At 80% completion, the project which covers 220 hectares of land will boost rice and vegetables production while providing up to 10,000 jobs.
FEC also approved the request of the National Examinations Council (NECO) through the Ministry of Education to buy and use 80 units of Image Mark Reader Scanners to automate marking of scripts to improve the conduct of its examinations, especially those into unity schools and for JSS exams.
Minister of Education, Ruqqayatu Rufai', explained that the machines which can mark 7,200 multiple-choice questions scripts per hour, were necessary to speed up the release of examination results.
She disclosed that presently up 1.3 million candidates take the NECO exams in 40 subjects at a minimum of 10 subjects per candidate; and that manual marking of such scripts are cumbersome, so the scanner which will cost N1.99billion will not only ease the process but reduce errors.
The Council further approved that Nigeria should pay up its counterpart funding of $3million (30%) for supplies of family planning as well as infant/ maternal drugs and materials from donor agencies.
According to the Health Minister, the approval is coming at a time when President Jonathan is the co-chair (along with Norway Prime Minister) of the United Nations Commission for Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children.
The Minister of Culture and Tourism at the briefing told journalists that FEC also approved the 8th edition of the Abuja Carnival.
Expected to participate are 12 countries from Asia, Africa and Caribbean Islands while the Prime Minister of Saint Kitts Island has been invited by Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu.
This year's carnival will feature parades by the military, paramilitary, NYSC, women groups, schools and physically challenged. State and local governments will also participate at the carnival which will feature daily musical nights and command performance.