Nigeria Redeem its image in Haiti

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The Nigerian Government has taken positive steps toward redeeming its image and strengthening its diplomatic tie through the fulfillment of its promise to the people of Saute- d’Eaue in Haiti, following the 12 January 7.0 earthquake that struck the island, leaving its capital Port- au -Prince and environs devastated. About 220,000 people were reported killed in the incident, among them 102 United Nations Staff. Following the natural disaster, the Nigerian government promised to reconstruct a school to resettle the affected community. The school project was awarded at the cost of 5 million dollars in 2012 but it experienced a lot of technical hiccups; including an allegation of embezzlement, hence the Nigerian government put a hold on it.

Saute- d’Eaue is a community in the Mirebalais Arrondissement of Haiti. It is famously named after its large waterfall which is said to have been created in the massive earthquake of May 7, 1842. The community has a population of 182, 852 from its 2015 census. The arrondissement, according to information available in the public space, is made up of Mireblais, Saut- dEau, and Boucan carre’

It will be recalled that the House Committee on Foreign Relations as part of its oversight functions in 2021 visited the Nigerian Mission in Haiti under the leadership of Her Excellency, Dr. Maraun Tamuno, Nigeria’s Ambassador to Jamaica and High Commissioner to Haiti, Belize, and the Dominican Republic and expressed serious concerns over the ban on the project. It recommended its immediate lifting. The ban was finally lifted in 2022, 10 years after work started on the project which is now at 80% completion within 4 months of inception, despite the crisis ongoing in Haiti and with less than half of the initial amount the contract has commenced.

According to our source who refuses to be named, delays to the project have been a result of the rigorous protocols and requirements of the Nigerian Procurement Act which necessitates the establishment of a bond before beginning a project. This has made it difficult to get a contractor who is able to take on the project. Our source further explained that all contractors that were willing, were unable to get companies to insure the process as Haiti is still a volatile place. Our source further affirmed that The Mission Tenders Board, as required by the Nigerian Law has been part of the delay due to its insistence that protocols are diligently adhered to in all ramifications. The scarcity of funds in all Nigerian missions due to poor overhead costs has also been part of the challenge. However, the situation changed positively when MS Benson Construction Limited agreed to fund it with his money and be reimbursed at different stages of work, although as of now he has not been reimbursed up to 50% of what has been put in.

Expressing their delight in the progress made so far, the people of Saut – dEeau’ have commended the Nigerian government for their commitment to achieving this enviable goal despite all obstacles that have been encountered. Our source also dismissed the allegation making the round that the project is facing another round of embezzlement and the delivery of substandard work as baseless and a cheap attempt to flaw the proven track record of Her Excellency DR. Maureen Tamuno who has worked assiduously with her team to revive and bring to completion a project whose negligence has given Nigeria a bad name over the years. The entire process has several commendations at have been received by the government and other notable individuals who have visited the site regularly.

We found worthy of note that under DR. Maureen Tamuno leadership, the fourth Nigeria-Jamaica Joint Commission took place in Nigeria. This edition was the first of the four series of conversations to be held in Abuja Nigeria, with the previous three being held in Jamaica. The Jamaican Government led by the Foreign Minister visited Nigeria for a 4-day deliberation meeting. Nigeria has also been a member state of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) since 1982, yet for the first time since 1982 the ISA recorded increased participation of Nigeria MDAs and focal agencies in the past two years, with two workshops and seminars on deep seabed matters hosted in Nigeria and Kingston Jamaica. H.E Maureen Tamuno is ahead of her time and one of the best gifts Nigeria has exported in recent times. Her tenacity is unmatched and must be applauded.

The project will be handed over to the Haitian Government who are pleased and delighted and have expressed nothing but gratitude.