By Lateeef Adegbite
Babatude Fashola, a former governor of Lagos state and now minister of works, has heaved a sigh of relief that the Federal Executive Council, FEC, has given approval to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporatio , NNPC, to rehabilitate 21 roads covering a distance of 1,804 KM, across the six geo-political zones of the country through the deployment of its Tax Liabilities as requested.
Fshola has every reason to be happy. This is because the Funds are not readily available to the Federal government for provision of basic infrastructural facilities like roads because of other competing needs, particular, financing Health, Education, servicing of Local and Foreign Loans which the National Assembly had put at over aN30 trillion.
This is in addition to the unending fuel subsidy which had left President Muhammadu , a retired Army General, government . The Nigerian oil behemoth may have seen that the Federal government roads that are scattered all over the Federation would continue to depreciate if nothing urgent was done to reconstruct them that it had sought the approval of the FEC, to intervene to fix the roads with the deployment of its Tax resources
The Works minister may have alluded to the Financial constraint of the Federal government to embark on the reconstruction of the bad roads, which are mostly in Niger, Ibrahim Babangida, a retired Army General and a Former military President, home state when he declared that ‘’there will be no more financing problems regarding the execution of roads ‘’, across the country with the intervention of NNPC, under the close watch of Mele KKolo Kyari.
Given an insider information of the 21 roads which the oil behemoth had agreed to reconstruct with about N230 billion,h had said that nine of it are in the north central state of Niger, described as ‘’the major Petroleum Products, distribution center of the Corporation’’. He was said to have given assurance to Nigerians that the Lagos-Badagry Express way, which had remained on a sorry state over the years, forestalling the free movement of goods and services from the West Coast, particular, transit cargoes from the neighbouring West African country of Benin Republic that had cost the country loss of billions of naira and the Agbara junction, including the Oyo-Ogbomosho section of the Ibadan –Ilorin road will be fixed by the Corporation.
He noted that three of the 21 roads to be reconstructed by NNPC, are located in the north west geopolitical region while two are in the north eastern and south east states each. The roads, according to the minister that had been earmarked for reconstruction in the north west geo-political region are Gada Zaima-Zuru-Gamji road, and Zaria –Funtua-Gusau-Sokoto roads which are described as death traps by motorists. The two roads penciled down by the Federal ministry of Works to be rehabilitated by the Nigerian oil giant, which had been split into six Companies, with the promulgation of the Petroleum Industry bill , PIB, by the Nigerian President, are Cham, Bali Serti and Gombe-Biu roads.
He may have gladdened the heart of the people of Akwa Ibom, home state of Godswell Akpabio, the Katsina state born Nigerian President minister of the ministry of Nigeria Delta and a one –time governor of the south-south state, who was said to have done everything within his powers to attract the attention of the former President Goodluck Jonathan Administration to fix the deplorable Odukpani-Itu-Ikot-Ekene road but no luck.
Akpabio may have taken advantage of serving in the Buhari government to ensure that the Akwa Ibom state road was fully covered during the Compilation of roads to be rehabilitated by NNPC, to resolve the problem of financing its reconstruction by the Federal government.
The former Lagos state governor may have drawn the attention of Nigerians to the fact that the government have not abdicated its responsibility of providing and maintenance of existing Infrastructural Facilities in the country to NNPC or any other government agency as it had continued to discharge its duties to the people.He had admitted that there are other players like NNPC, which had shown interest and commitment to deploy their Tax Liabilities in assisting the government to fix some of the bad roads across the country
According to him, last July, the FEC, approved the award of a Contract to Dongote Industries, which has Aliko Dangote, a Multi-billionaire and business mongul as its President for Construction of five roads at the cost of oabout N320 billion.The five roads to be constructed by the Dangote Industries includes the north western state of Kaduna bypass, the Lekki port road, the road from Sagamu through Papalanto to the one in Maiduguri, Capital of Borno state, which may have been delayed because of the activities of the Islamic Fundamentalist Group, BokoHaram and the Islamic State of West African Province, ISWAP, Insurgents.
He had said that there were a few other couple of road projects contract that were also awarded by the government but however, refused to itemize the roads, which many had regard as ‘’self- glorification to score cheap political point’’.