Members of the House of Representatives Committee on Rural Development on Tuesday in Ibadan expressed displeasure with the non-functional state of the rural telephony facilities across the country.
The committee led by its Chairman, Hon. Oladipo Adebutu (PDP- Ikenne/Shagamu/Remo North), had visited the rural telephony facilities in Oniyanrin and Isara-Remo in Oyo and Ogun States respectively.
Adebutu said it was disheartening to see the rural telephony equipment worth $200million lying fallow in different parts of the country in the last 10 years.
“The Federal Government borrowed the sum of $200million for the first phase of this programme and expended it on the purchase of equipment. Government has repaid the loan with interest.
“For the second phase, Nigeria has committed $35million and awaiting the counterpart funding from China to consummate this programme. It is sad that the project is still lying fallow in the last 10 years.
“Let me inform you that this project apart from its benefit to rural dwellers across the country can generate one million direct jobs.
“The programme still lies moribund. Now we are here to inspect the sites and the equipment available to ultimately find a way forward,’’ he said.
Also on the entourage were Hon. Temitope Olatoye (APC-Lagelu/Akinyele Federal Constituency), Hon. Maren Solomon Maren(Mangu-Bokkos Federal Constituency) and Hon. AkintayoAmere(Ayedire/Iwo/Olaoluwa Federal Constituency).
Solomon, Amere and Olatoye in separate interviews assured Nigerians that the house would ensure every step was taken to make the project a reality.
They all admitted that the project could provide millions of direct jobs and close to four million indirect jobs. The National Rural Telephony Project (NRTP) was inaugurated in 2001 under the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo.
It was, however, suspended by the Federal Government in 2011 due to poor execution. The first phase of the project was designed to cover 218 of the 774 local government areas of the country and was to provide over 636,256 Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) lines in all the council areas in the country.
This was with a view to having access to information communication technology (ICT) in order to bridge the digital divide.
The project was subdivided into three phases and was estimated to cost $200 million.
Gov. Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State had during the committee’s courtesy call on him described the state as very strategic to the rural telephony project.
Ajimobi said 70 percent of the state’s residents were rural dwellers, promising to give necessary support to the actualisation of the project