10 October 2012

Nigeria: Senate President's Zone Gets 82 Percent of Federal Rural Road Projects

Senate President David Mark's senatorial district is home to 82 percent of rural feeder road projects being executed by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture under this year's budget, official documents show.

Documents containing the budget implementation report prepared by Agriculture minister Akinwumi Adesina show that of the total 22 rural feeder roads under construction, 18 are located in Benue South Senatorial District, representing about 82 per cent.

Already some members of the National Assembly are grumbling about this and are threatening to institute an investigation.

"How on earth can they allocate 82 percent of the rural feeder roads to just one senatorial zone?" a lawmaker who did not want to be named asked.

When contacted, spokesman for the Senate President, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said he was not aware of the projects.

Asked for comments, acting Director for Rural Development in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Femi Michel Olushiyan, said the 18 rural feeder roads are constituency projects approved by the National Assembly.

According to the documents, Benue South is getting a total of 246.3 kilometers of roads from 284.3 kilometers of rural feeder roads being built by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture this year.

The sum of N2.076 billion is being spent on construction of the 22 roads.

Rural feeder roads are meant to give access to farmers to move their agricultural produce to main markets.

The budget documents show that about 50 percent of the total cost of the projects has already been released.

The road projects in Benue South are: Oshigbudu-Obagaji-Okokolo (24km), N100 million; Ugbokpo-Edikwu-Opaha (21.1km), N125 million; Adum East-Ohuma-Ojuo (11km), N100 million; Oju-Ebenta-Uwokwu (23.5km), N135 million; Ukwo-Aho-Owukpa (10.9km), N120 million; and Igunmale-Ulayi-Ijigban (14km) at N100 million.

Also on the list are Okpudu-Idiri-Ikomija (9km), N100 million; Ochobo-Agadagba-Onyagede (33.7km), N 200 million; Adoka-Umogidi-Opaha (19.1km), N100 million; Ugbokpo-Ojantle-Ikobi (15km), N85.616 million.

Other rural feeder roads projects in Mark's constituency are Ogoli-Ipolo-Ipum/Cho (10km), at N70 million; Awulema-Ajegaji-Ogene-Alaglanu (12km), at N85 million; Efoyo-Ikpogo-Omadewu-Ebya (9km), N85.4 million; Aduma East-Adiko-Okwutungbe (8km), N85.112 million; Otada-Emichi-Okpamaju-Odudaje (7km), N90.4 million; Otobi-Ujume-Edumoga-Ohuma (8km), N85 million; Oju-Ujume-Edumoga-Ohuma (9km), N85 million and Onobi-Icho-Ajobe-Otukpo (10km) at N60 million.

The only four projects located outside Mark's constituency are in Ekiti, Ebonyi, Plateau and Oyo states. They are: 4.5 km road from Riyom junction to Jos, N150 million; road network at Apata Kekere village in Oke-Orogun that links Ojoo-Iwo road expressway, Oyo State (2.47km), N45 million; Agba-Esha, Igweledeoha/Ndioke, Ededagu road (16km) in Ebonyi State at N50 million; and 5.5km rural roads in Ikun Ekiti, Ekiti State.

'They are constituency projects'

Asked for comments on why most of the roads being built are in Benue South, acting Director for Rural Development in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Femi Michel Olushiyan, said the 18 rural feeder roads are constituency projects approved and funded by the National Assembly and so it was beyond the control of the ministry.

In a telephone interview with our reporter, Olushiyan said the projects came to the ministry as constituency projects in the 2012 budget with details of location and amount to be spent on the projects already specified.

"It is not our money. The money belongs to whoever takes it there. We cannot distribute it evenly because the money was assigned for the projects by the National Assembly," he said.

He said constituency projects similar to the ones in Benue South were also going on in other parts of the country based on projects identified by legislators.

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