Five states of the federation have so far benefited from the Federal Government’s RAMP initiative, the National Coordinator, Rural Access Mobility Project, Ubandoma Ularamu, has said.
Ularamu stated this on Wednesday in Calabar, Cross River State at a capacity enhancement workshop organised for Development Communication Officers of RAMP.
He said the objective of RAMP was to construct rural roads in states selected to participate in the projects.
He said: “We have Osun, Imo, Enugu, Adamawa and Niger States now readily implementing the project.
“We have also selected 18 states to be financed by our various development partners, including the World Bank, African Development Bank, European Investment Bank and others.
“Each state will get financing of about $60 million to construct about 500km of rural roads and river crossings.
“The states are only expected to contribute 3 per cent of the amount as counterpart fund.”
According to him, the selection criteria for states was developed jointly with the World Bank and it was broken into the governance criteria and technical criteria.
The national coordinator said these criteria were easy for any state that had the political will, adding that Cross River benefitted from the phase one of the project because the state was calm and the weather was good.
Ularamu said: “We decided to bring our people to Cross River for them to see the projects that have already been done so they can learn.
“Cross River used asphalt on their roads unlike other states that used laterite on their roads.
“So, we brought them here to learn.”
Ularamu urged contractors who worked in the rural areas to recruit labour from the benefitting communities for unskilled jobs so they could be part of the project and own the project.
He added that some of the challenges they have encountered in the project included poor funding, lack of cooperation by local communities and insecurity, but they were doing their best to overcome the numerous challenges.
Ularamu, however, encouraged the workshop participants to take advantage of the workshop and ensure that they publicise the projects carried out by RAMP effectively.
Similarly, one of the resource persons, Dr. Sam Abah, said rural poverty was the biggest problem presently confronting the country and there was no state that was not affected.
Abah said some of the social ills, particularly in the rural areas, were because the young people were idle due to the inaccessibility of their communities and their markets were not functional.
He said by the time they built the capacity of the DCOs and they were able to tell the story of RAMP properly, people who are the stakeholders will synergise with the project better and there would be changes in the rural areas.
He said: “Fund is available, but the progress of work is not as good as it should be.
“So, we need to communicate properly and the people that will pull this process are these men and women that are here.
“It is a whole big work of trying to help Nigeria move faster as far as developing the rural communities is concerned.”
Similarly, another resource person, Prof. Abigail Ogwezzy-Ndisika, said the essence of the workshop was to review the communication strategy for the RAMP project and to retrain the communication officers in order to improve their skills for effective communication in RAMP.
Ogwezzy-Ndisika said: “The session will train the communication people on how to engage the community to see that there is synergy in outcome.
“When you have an outcome, livelihoods will be improved, you can move your produce from the farmlands to the market, you can have access to hospitals, time for taking children to school will be reduced and the economy will boom.”