… as FG dithers on refund or granting right
Governors of Ekiti and Ondo states have indicated to the minister of works, Babatunde Raji Fashola, their willingness to go ahead and reconstruct the collapsed AkureAdo Ekiti federal highway despite the Federal Government’s reluctance to assume responsibility for refunds.
Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi and his Ondo State counterpart Rotimi Akerodolu, confirmed their willingness to proceed with the project in correspondences to the minister and ongoing negotiations on repairs of the 50 kilometres road.
Fayemi told Businessday that Ekiti had secured approval-in-principle from the African Development Bank for a low-interest long-term loan to reconstruct and dualise the road. ADB would, however, not release the funds unless it gets a sovereign guarantee.
“There is really no challenge in fixing it. As a matter of fact, we have secured support from the African Development Bank (ADB) to fix the Ado-Akure road. However, we have had difficulty in getting the approval of the owner, so to speak. The road belongs to the federal government. So, when we got the nod of the African Development Bank that they will support us to fix the road and dualise it, I approached Mr President. He, of course, naturally asked the Minister for advice. The minister responded that they were not opposed if we were not going to ask for a refund.
“We found it awkward because it is their road. I cannot use Ekiti funds without justification. My people would really like this road to be fixed. However, they would also want me to be accountable for their funds. The African Development Bank cannot move on the funds unless we get clearance from the Federal Government.”
Funding for the Ado EkitiAkure federal road may have run into the blockage concerning the stance of the federal government to not refund state governments for fixing federal infrastructure following a presidential declaration. Works and Housing Minister Babatunde Raji Fashola told the House of Representatives of the decision of Mr President during a sitting of the Ad Hoc Committee on Abandoned Federal Government Projects (Works) from 1999 till date on 24 September. The President issued the directive because of the vast amounts the states claimed for fixing federal roads in their states.
According to Fashola, “The states submitted a bill of almost a trillion naira when President Buhari was elected. He asked us to work out what was their entitlement and all of that.
“Ultimately, the BPP (the Bureau of Public Procurement) certified about N44bn – I don’t remember the exact amount now – except for two states; I think Cross River and…there’s another state. They didn’t have the documents at the time, which we have sent back to the President. 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 his (Buhari’s) roads alone. Those were the directives; I was not the one that took the decision.