…says his speech on 2017 budget not meant to disparage lawmakers
With the Minister of Power Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN, clarifying that he never attacked the National Assembly as a body and the Chairman House Investigative Committee on Breach of Privilege, Violation of Appropriation Act and Incitement of the Nigerian Public, pledging the support of the House to the Minister to succeed in his assignment, a truce was Friday reached between the House and the Minister on the disagreement over the outcome of the 2017 Budget.
The Committee had invited the Minister over the statement credited to him with regards to the alterations in the Ministry’s 2017 Budget, requesting that he clarified his pronouncement at an interview he granted soon after the passing of the budget which the House viewed as having “queried the power of the National Assembly to alter the 2017 budget proposal after the budget defence exercise”.
In his presentation before the Committee, which also included detailed maps, letters from contractors and the Budget related documents on the Federal Government’s plans and priorities for roads nationwide, Fashola, who said he never referred to the Legislators as a whole with regards to the knowledge of the budget process, said his response was specifically to the Spokesperson of the House who accused him of being “untruthful” in a Press Statement.
The Minister also pointed out that the interview he gave to a media platform which prompted the investigation was an expression of his concern about the state and pace of development of the country’s infrastructure and the consequences they have on the quality of life and expectations of Nigerians.
“ Mr Chairman, Hon. Members thank you very much. Let me say once again that my response hopefully has shed some light on the way matters have transpired about what led to what. As I have said here, it was not my intention to disparage the Parliament. It was my intention to speak about development as a continuing matter and if my statement had caused any discomfort beyond what I intended I certainly apologize for that. And I’ve made that very clear before that I’m not fighting the Parliament,” he said.
In his response while rounding off the proceedings, Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Aliyu Sani Madaki, expressed delight that the disagreement had been amicably resolved promising that henceforth the relationship between the National Assembly and the Minister would be much better than hitherto.
The Chairman, who described the Minister as a Senior Citizen, declared, “I am sure that from now going forth the relationship between not just the House of Representatives but the National Assembly and the Honourable Minister will be much better than we were having it before this sitting”.
Pledging that the National assembly would give him every assistance needed for him to succeed in his current assignment, the Chairman added, “Like I alluded, whenever I am talking to other people and his name comes up, I use to say ‘Mr. Prime Minister’ because of the volume of job God has placed on his table”, expressing confidence that the Minister would excel in his assignment on “not just Lagos-Ibadan, not just the Second Niger Bridge, but including Kano-Maiduguri, Kano-Abuja and all other roads”.
The Minister, had in the course of the proceedings while responding to issues specifically slated for clarification like the status of reconstruction work and budgetary provision for Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and Abuja-Kano Expressway in 2016 and 2017 as well as status of 2nd Niger, reiterated the Federal Government’s established plans to build road and bridge network across the country as well as the order of priorities in which they would be built through a revolving plan in the next three years 2017- 2019.
Fashola reiterated that the intention was to connect states, drive economy, move fuel, food and import and export of goods.
The Minister said in addition to the plan for 44 Federal Highways construction contained in the 2017 Budget, government has also identified 63 roads in the First Quarter of the year that were identified and prepared for emergency intervention across the country ahead of the rainy season to give relief to Nigerians subject to appropriation.
According to the Minister, the 63 roads were identified and prepared for intervention during the inspection tour of roads in 34 states of the Federation by the Ministry which he personally led.
He said for the purpose of effective implementation, the Federal Government has classified the roads into Critical Economic Routes and Agricultural routes to include all roads traversing geopolitical zones, advancing trade and commerce across the states and leading to the ports as well as those passing through agricultural areas across the country.
Noting that the road projects are spread out in such a way that no zone has been left out, Fashola listed the proposed priority highway projects slated in the 2017 Budget to include Kano-Katsina Road (Phase 1: Kano Town at Dawanau Roundabout to Katsina State Border), Sokoto-Tambuwal-Jega-Yauri Road, Ilorin-Jebba-Mokwa-Bokani Road, Ilorin-Kabba-Obajana Road (Sections 1&11), Ibadan-Ilorin Road, Section11 (Oyo-Ogbomosho), Lagos-Shagamu-Ibadan Dual Carriageway, Sections 1&11 and Lagos-Otta Road.
Also included are Apapa/Tincan Port, NNPC Depot (Atlas Cove) to Mile 2 Access Road, Apapa-Oshodi Road, Third Mainland Bridge, Apapa/Tincan Island Port-NNPC Depot Access Road, Benin-Ofosu-Ore Ajebandele-Shagamu Road, Obajana Junction-Benin Road Phase 2: (Sections i-iv), Sapele-Ewu Road Sections 1&11, Second Niger Bridge, Onitsha-Enugu Expressway (Amansea-Enugu State Border), Yenegoa Road Junction-Kolo-Otueke-Bayelsa Palm and Bodo-Bonny Road with Bridge.
Others are Odukpani-Itu-(Spur Ididep-Itam)-Ikot Ekpene Federal Highway Sections 1&11, Ikom Bridge, Enugu-Port Harcourt Dual Carriageway Sections i-iv, Calabar-Ugep-Katsina Ala Road, Vandeikya-Obudu-Obudu Cattle Ranch Road, Oshegbudu-Oweto Road, Oju/Loko-Oweto Bridge with approach roads, Nassarawa-Loko Road, Abuja-Lokoja Road Sections i&iv, Suleja-Minna Road Section 11. Kaduna Eastern Bypass, Kano-Maiduguri Road Section 1-1V, Hadejia-Nguru-Gashua-Bayamari Road and Kano Western Bypass.
Those listed as critical economic routes include Zaria-Kano Road, Abuja-Lokoja Road (Sections i-iv), Ilorin-Jebba-Bokani Road, Ibadan-Ilorin Road (Sections `1&11), Lagos-Shagamu-Ibadan Road (Sections1&11), Benin-Ofosu-Ore-Ajebandele-Shagamu Road and Obajana-Benin Road (Sections i-iv).
Also in the list are Onitsha-Enugu Road (Section 1&11), Enugu-Port Harcourt Road (Sections i-iv), Calabar-Odukpani-Itu Road (Section1), Calabar-Ugep-Katsina Ala Road (Sections 1&11), Alesi-Ugup (Iyamoyung-Ugup) Road, Ogoja(Mbok Junction) Abuochichie Road, Otukpo Township Road, Kano-Maiduguri Road(Sections i-v), Kaduna-Zaria Road and Kaduna-Katsina Road.
According to the Minister, roads that pass through agricultural areas across the country include Sokoto-Tambuwal-Jega-Kontangora-Makera Road (Sections 1&11), Makurdi-Naka-Ndoka-Ankpa Road, Akure-Ondo-Ore Road and Benin-Sapele Highway. Rubber Research Institute of Nigeria-Iyanomo Road.
Others are 9th Mile-Enugu-Port Harcourt Road, Abakaliki-Afikpo Road Sections 1&11, and 9th Mile-Oturkpo-Makurdi Road, Ogboko (Yandev Junction)-Katsina Ala (Ugbema Junction) Road, Wukari-Mutum Biyu-Jalingo-Numan Road, Section1, Numan Jalingo Road, Gombe-Numan Road, Maiduguri-Dutse and Kano-Zaria Road.
The 63 roads slated for emergency interventions, which cut across the six geopolitical zones of North East, North West, North Central, South West, South East and South South, include construction of bridge at KM 32 along Billiri Filiya in Taraba and the repair of Billiri-Filliya Road in Gombe, Potiskum-Agalda-Gombe State Border (S/B) and Potiskum-Kari-Bauchi S/B Road in Yobe State.
Also included in the list are Tella Road and Bridge 2 Abutment and Apawa-Junction-Zing-Adamawa (State Border) in Taraba State, Bauch-Darazo-Kari Road in Bauchi State, Numan-Lafia-Gombe State Border Road, Numan-Jalingo Road, Numan-Guyuk (Borno State Border) and Ngurore-Mayobelwa Road in Adamawa State, all in the North East.
In the North West, roads listed for emergency repairs include Birnin Gwari Road in Kaduna, Kebbi-Argungu-Sokoto (State Border) Road in Kebbi State, Gusau-Chafe-Katsina Road in Zamfara, Rimawa-Sabonbirnin-Niger Republic Road (Section 1), Rimawa-Sabonbirnin-Niger Republic Road (Section 2) and bridge embankment in Sokoto State, Gumel-Mallam Madori-Hadeija Road, Birnin Kudu and Babaldu-Malumuwa-Bauchi S/B Road, among others in Jigawa,Yayasa Bridge in Kano and Dusinma-Kankara Road in Katsina State.
Makurdi-Lafia Road and Makurdi-Gboko Road in Benue, Okene-Kabba Road and Kabba-Omuo Road in Kogi, Ajase-Offa-Erinle-Osun State Boundary Road in Kwara, Keffi Abuja Road and Keffi-Gittata-Kaduna S/b Road, Nassarawa-Toto-Abaji Road in Nassarawa and Jebba-Mokwa Road, Bida-Lapal-Lambata Road and Makera-Tegina Road in Niger State are listed for repairs in the North Central.
In the South West, roads listed for repairs include Ibillo-Isu-Epinmi-Akungba Road and Owo-Akure Road in Ondo, Ilesa-Ijebu-Ijesa Road, Ijebu-Ijesa-Ekiti S/B and Ibadan-Ile-Ife-Ilesa Road, Osun S/B-Ilesa in Osun, Ibadan-Ile-Ife-Ilesa Road in Oyo, Ijebu-Ode-Epe-Ibadan Road in Ogun and Ikorodu-Shagamu in Lagos,while in the South East, Abakaliki-Oferekpe Road in Ebonyi, Nsukka-Adani-Anambra S/B Road in Enugu State, Umuokpor section of Ikot Ekpene-Aba Road in Abia and Ihiala-Orlu-Umuduru Road, Owerri-Okigwe, among others make the list in the South East.
Roads that make the list in the South-South include Ikot Ekpene-Ikot Umoessien-Abia S/B Road in Akwa Ibom, Ebiama-Yenegoa Road in Bayelsa, Auchi-Igarra-Ibillo-Ose Bridge Road and Benin-Ofosu-Shagamu Road in Edo, Ebouchichie-Gakem Road in Cross River, Benin-Asaba Dual Carriageway, Asaba-Illa-Ebu-Edo S/B Road, Igbodo, Benin- Asaba Expressway and Warrri-Sapele-Edo S/b Road in Delta State among others.
Over 45 bridges, according to the list, are slated for rehabilitation over the next three years. They include two bridges along Sokoto-Gusau Road, Murtala Mohammed Bridge, Koton Karfe, River Ebba to Cheche Bridge, Jebba Bridge, 3rd Mainland Bridge, nine Lagos Bridges and flyovers, Lagos Ring Road Bridge Abutment, Ijora 7-Up Bridge, Ijora-Apapa Bridge by Leventis and burnt Marine Bridge.
They also include Utor Bridge, Niger Bridge at Onitsha/Asaba, Onitsha-Owerri Bridge, Ibagwa Bridge, Ikom Bridge, Itigidi, Makurdi Bridge, Quata Sule Bridge, Katsina Ala Bridge, Buruku Bridge, Abuja-Abaji Bridge Section 11, Loko Owotu Bridge, Ibi Bridge, Kudzum Bridge, Gombe-Michika-Maraba Bridge, Gamboru Bridge, Katanko Bridge, Jaji Bridge, Borno/Adamawa State Border Bridge, Falani Bridge, Sumaila, Flyover Bridge at Silver Jubilee and Tambuwal Bridge
While noting that the Federal Character Commission through its Acting Chairman, Dr Shettima Bukur Abba at the 23rd National Council on Works in Abuja acknowledged that the priority given to projects across the country “are Federal character compliant and of benefit to all Nigerians” Fashola, however, expressed regrets that budgetary constraints would have a negative impact on such priority projects.
According to him, the two principal contractors working on sections of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Messrs Julius Berger and Reynolds Construction Company (RCC) (Nig.) Limited, have given notice of suspension of work on the site due to delay in the payment of agreed contract fees on work already done, which they complained was adversely affecting the pace of work and could lead to default in meeting completion deadline.
According to the letter, which the Minister submitted to the Committee, written by RCC, which handles Section 11 (Shagamu-Ibadan) of the contract, “In view of the irregular payment and the attendant cash flow problem, we shall be constrained to suspend further execution of work unless there is an appreciable improvement in the Project’s cash flow and adequate funding arrangement is put in place for further works”. The letter, dated June 2, 2017, was signed the Managing Director, Mr. M. Nakhla.
A similar letter to the Minister received at the Ministry on June 5, 2017, Julius Berger, which handles Section 1 (Lagos-Shagamu Dual Carriageway), wrote, “Honourable Minister, it has become evident that the required adequate funding for the continuation of the project is not available. We trust that you will understand that therefore and as a consequence of the unacceptable financial risk to Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, we are left with no choice than to immediately commence suspension of the Works on the project, as earlier notified”. It was co-signed by the Division Manager, Mr. W. Loesser and the Commercial Division Manager, Mr. T. Meletschus.