6 December 2012

Nigeria: Senators Divided Over Road Projects

The allocation of federal road projects to each state for the 2013 fiscal year tore senators apart yesterday.

Confronting Works Minister Mike Onolememen who was at the Senate yesterday for a budget hearing, Senators Danjuma Goje (PDP, Gombe), Babafemi Ojudu (ACN, Ekiti), Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP, Abia) and Bukar Abba Ibrahim (ANPP, Yobe) condemned what they termed as inequality in the distribution of the Federal Road and Maintenance Agency (FERMA) constituency projects across the six geo-political zones.

They also pointed out a mix-up in the naming of the various projects sited including the Abraka -Sapele -Warri road found in the North-Central zone, and ongoing projects in Zamfara State named in the South-south zone.

Goje said he found it difficult to understand why 30 road projects would be allocated to some senators' states and none to his.

Goje said, "the only one road project allocated to my state in the 2012 budget has been removed in the 2013 budget. The seed of inequality, injustice and discord should not be sown in the course of projects distribution across the country."

Ojudu alleged what he called a complete neglect of roads in the South-west.

According to him, "I'm embarrassed by the neglect of federal roads in South-West. I'm disappointed that the Akure-Ado Ekiti road which should take 45 minutes now takes about 2 hours to drive and yet out of a budget of N183 billion, what was allocated for this road is a meagre N50 billion."

For Abaribe, it is unacceptable for 25 federal roads to be allocated to Enugu where the chairman of the Senate Committee on Works Senator Ayogu Eze comes from; while his own state, Abia, was given only two and Imo State, one.

Daily Trust reports that Senator Ayogu Eze was absent at the hearing but the session was chaired by his vice, Senator Bashir Garba Mohammed (PDP, Kano).

Ibrahim vented his anger over the termination of a road project in Yobe State.

Responding, the minister acknowledged the identified anomalies, blaming it on the Budget Office of the Federation.

Earlier, the minister said of the N183.5billion proposed for the 2013 fiscal year, N151.2billion would go for capital projects out of which the main ministry would get N136.5billion; and parastatals, N14.7billion.

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