DUE to the huge amount requested by state governors after repairing Federal roads in their domains, President Muhammadu Buhari has asked them to stop fixing such roads.
Works and Housing Minister Babatunde Fashola stated this at a two-day interactive session with the Francis Uduyok-headed Ad Hoc Committee on Abandoned Federal Government Projects (Works) from 1999 till date.
Fashola said: “What has happened to states; that’s another thing. The states submitted a bill of almost N1 Trillion when President Buhari was elected. He asked us to work out what was their entitlement and all of that.
“Ultimately, the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) certified about N454 billion. I don’t remember the exact amount now, except for two states. I think Cross River… There’s another state that didn’t have the documents at the time…
“But the decision to pay those inherited debts, including the ones I contracted as governor of Lagos, was with the caveat that I should tell the governors to leave Federal roads alone. Those were the directives. I was not the one that took the decision.
“He said, ‘Tell them not to fix my roads again if they’re going to claim compensation. If you want to fix it and not ask for compensation, send me what you want to do. But if you want compensation, go and mind your business while I mind my business. This is because I have inherited enough debts.’”
Giving a breakdown of the roads, the minister said Federal roads constituted about 18 per cent of the national road network, covering about 200,000 kilometres.
He said the remaining 16 per cent belonged to the states and 64 per cent to the 774 local government areas.
Fashola explained that the amount of inherited debts was more than the budget of the ministry. “So, that’s the reality,” he said.
On the complaint by the National Assembly that the ministry was overstretching itself thin by handling 472 road projects at once, the minister said the incessant demands by lawmakers was partly responsible for the high number of projects in the ministry and conversely, continuous budget cuts was responsible for the abandoned projects.
The minister said there must be a stop to new projects to allow for the completion of old projects.
He said consensus and sacrifice were necessary for development “because our money is not enough for what we want to build”.
To solve the cash flow problem, Fashola said the ministry was looking towards raising capital from the organised private sector (OPS), such as SUKUK and Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund.
According to him, the SUKUK fund was targeted at about 28 roads out of 472 federal road projects.
This, he said, was initiated by the Buhari administration to target some important projects, including the Second Niger Bridge, East-West road, Lagos-Ibadan-Abuja-Kano rail projects and the Mambilla Power project