Government to refund money spent by states on federal roads

Cross River state road

Cross River state road

• Cross River demands N25b refund
The Federal Government may have perfected plans to refund some of the money spent by about 26 states of the federation on designated federal roads in their territories.

Already, the National Assembly has instructed its constituted committee on works and finance to investigate the claims by the states with a view to finding a solution to the issue that has made many of the states to go bankrupt due to the enormity of the funds committed into the projects.

According to the Kwara State Commissioner for Works and Transport, Alhaji Aro Yahaya, yesterday in Ilorin, Kwara State was among the states recently invited by the National Assembly committee to defend its claims on the money expended on federal road projects in the state.

This is coming as the Cross River State Government is demanding a N25 billion refund from the Federal Government as money spent for rehabilitating federal roads in the state.

Of all the 36 states in the country, the state got the least refund of N250 million from the Federal Government for the rehabilitation of federal roads in the state between 2006 and 2016.

Briefing reporters on Monday, the Commissioner for Works, Mr. Dane Osim-Asu declined to confirm how much the state was demanding as reimbursement but top government officials who pleaded anonymity put the figure at N25 billion.

He said the figure is much and “If you go round the entire South South region of Nigeria you will discover that the state of federal roads is worst in Cross River State. I have mentioned this and taken it up in several fora and met the minister twice on this and he has promised to visit and see things for himself.”

We have received only a paltry N250 million. Other states come in and request for a reimbursement of N34 billion, N54 billion and Oyo State brought N202 billion and everybody shouted and we have a modest request for reimbursement.’’

Yahaya, at an interactive forum with reporters as brokered by the state’s ministry of Information, said Kwara State rehabilitated the roads with its money, without any regret due to their importance to the agrarian driven economy of the state.

According to the commissioner flanked by his colleagues from Information, Mahmud Ajeigbe; Water Resources, Abdulrazaq Akorede; and Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Media, Dr. Femi Akorede: “We were invited by the National Assembly Committee on Works and Finance to come and defend our claims on the quantum of money spent by the state government on federal roads in Kwara.

“We are happy to tell you that we did this without any contention and the members of the Committee were satisfied with our claims. To tell you the importance of the committee, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, chaired it. About 26 states were represented at the forum. We are still pursuing the funds and we shall be happy if we get it on time.”

The commissioner listed some of the road projects across the state as constructed by the state government within the first quarter of the year with a promise to construct more roads and bridges in order to create by-passes for motorists within the metropolis.

Osim-Asu frowned at the low sum paid to the state saying, “from 2006 up till 2016 looking at how much federal government reimbursed through the Federal Ministry of Works to states, Cross River state got the least of N250 million. Other states have received N3 billion, N5 billion upwards. This is not because there was no efforts on our own parts, we are working very hard on that”.

He said given the poor condition of the road, “we thought that we should be able to take over the Calabar-Itu Federal Highway by means of a tolled Superhighway. We wrote for that to the President through the Minister but it is also worried some. I have taken that up as well at various fora. The Federal Ministry of Works has made a provision of N6 billion for the construction of that road. When we confronted them they said that was provision for first phase but we know that amount cannot dualise that road so we are still questioning and pursuing it and believing that they create a political solution to that.

The Federal Government needs to bring the necessary influence to bear to ensure they heed to our application.”
Prominent among the proposed road constructions “already captured in the budget and which works will begin on them within the next few weeks” are dualisation of Kulende/ University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital road and building of an ultra modern fly over bridge at Gerin Alimi Roundabout, Ilorin.

Giving his own scorecards at the event, Akorede the Commissioner for Water Resources said, sabotage by unknown persons caused the delay in expansion of water supply to some parts of Ilorin, especially, “those who went and damaged our major pipes that had been there for years few days after we made the announcement of our planned commissioning of the expansion works.”

Akorede, who expressed hope of a prompt suspension of the on going strike by his workers in the ministry over unpaid salaries of four months, added that the government of Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed has put in place juicy packages that would put a permanent solution to water problems in some parts of the state.

For the Senior Special Assistant on Media, the on going biometric verification of data base of workers in the state has led to the arrest of 10 persons who allegedly presented fake certificates to the committee. He warned others in the same shoe, to quietly shun the exercise and quit the service to avoid being prosecuted both by the civil service rule and the law of the land.

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