Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Fashola and Minister of Transportation Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi yesterday highlighted the infrastructure development strides of the Buhari Administration at a Special Town Hall Meeting in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
Replying to a question on the slow pace of work on the Oyo-Ogbomoso road, Fashola blamed it on interruption by communities and organisations affected by the construction and their demand for compensation.
Fashola also blamed it on the delay in passage of budget and deliberate cut in the budget for infrastructure by the National Assembly.
He is sure that with the over 900 million dollars infrastructure fund approved by the President, the critical roads and other projects will be completed.
For instance, he recalled that the National Assembly cut his ministry’s N30 billion proposal for the Lagos-Ibadan expressway in the 2017 budget to N11 billion, thereby hindering the ministry’s plan to speed up the completion of the road. Besides, Fashola said the huge compensation sought by owners of land upon which the government builds infrastructure increases the amount needed for projects. The government, he said, does not have the ability to provide immediately such compensation because of other pressing needs.
He said the huge compensation was part of the factors slowing down the Oyo-Ogbomoso Road.
The minister, therefore, charged Nigerians to rein in land owners to cut down on their request when projects are to be undertaken for the benefit of their communities and Nigeria at large. He also urged Nigerians to prevail on National Assembly members to stop cutting unreasonably budgetary allocations for important projects.
Fashola, noted, however, that the Muhammadu Buhari administration had already developed a partial solution by establishing the Infrastructures Fund through which such projects can be financed.
He said: “What President Buhari has done is to create the Infrastructures Fund. As they slow him down, he is developing alternatives. Already, he has approved N15 billion for Lagos-Ibadan Road, funds for Abuja-Kano Road, second Niger Bridge and they can’t stop that. Tell the parliamentarians to do their own part as the executives do theirs.”
The minister stressed that 2019 election will present to Nigerians the opportunity to choose between a failed political party and a performing one. He explained that the choice is, however, made clear by the outstanding performance of the All Progressives Congress (APC) government, which has raised power generation from 4,000 megawatts in 2015 to 7,000 in 2018, is completing many abandoned projects instead of starting new ones and a government which is achieving more with less revenue as opposed to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which achieved less with more revenue.
Fashola said: “The Buhari administration has increased generation from 2400MW it met it to 7000 MW while distribution has increased from 2690MW to 5222MW.”
He added that the Federal Government was building pilot housing schemes in 34 states, five of which are in the Southwest.
He reiterated that the achievements recorded on infrastructure by the Buhari administration in three and half years with less resources were more than that of the PDP in 16 years with more resources.
Fashola explained that not less than 67 road projects were ongoing in the Southwest.
The roads include 19 in Lagos State, 14 in Oyo State, 12 in Osun State, nine in Ogun and Ondo states.
Of the 67 projects, 19 are roads maintenance, excluding the regular repairs carried out by the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA).
Specifically, Fashola said the massive construction on Lagos-Ibadan expressway, Benin-Ore-Ajebamidele-Shagamu road and Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta expressway, abandoned for years, were pointers to their achievements.
He added that the critical 35km Tin Can Island-Mile two-Oshodi road had been awarded to Dangote Construction company and would be a 10-lane highway to be constructed with concrete.
Amaechi explained that rail transportation had drastically improved across the country in the last three years. He pointed out the Ibadan-Lagos rail transportation, which he said now takes less than one hour. He said the project would soon be completed, adding that the second phase would run from Ibadan to Kano. He said the entire project will cost $8.7 billion. The projects were non- existent before Buhari’s administration, he said.
Amaechi said the rail transport plan had been gathering dust for 34 years before the Buhari administration insisted that it must be implemented.
The former governor of Rivers State said the APC government was ready for a debate with the PDP ahead of the 2019 election, stressing that the APC had dug out the activities of the PDP in its last three years in office and compared them with the APC’s last three years. That, he said, would expose their failure and help Nigerians make an informed decision on who to vote for in 2019.
He said: “We are ready for a debate. In advance, we are giving them the warning. We know how much their government got in three years and we know how much our own got. We will show what we have done and challenge them to show what they also did. They are hungry now. You will only give them back power if you don’t wake up early and vote for APC on the election day.”
Minister of Water Resources Suleman Adamu said the Federal Government would soon declare a state of emergency in water supply to enable it focus on helping states on water projects. The government, he said, plans to select six cities across the country to try the pilot project of providing potable water to all residents.
Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed said the town hall meeting in Ibadan on infrastructure was the second in a series of special town hall meetings designed to showcase the achievements of the Buhari Administration.
“The first edition of the Special Town Hall Meetings was held in Gusau, Zamfara State, on 10 Sept. 2018, to showcase the Administration’s achievements in security, in particular the drastic reduction in the number of killings in certain parts of the country,” he said.
The Minister said the Buhari administration had made a massive investment in infrastructure to fast-track the pace of development.
“Whether in the area of job creation or stimulation of economic growth, investment in infrastructure is a fast route to development.
We are in no doubt that the solid foundation that we are laying in the area of infrastructure will be a catalyst to the much-needed economic development in our dear country,” he said.
Oyo State Governor Abiola Ajimobi, who hosted the meeting, said he would be leaving the state far better than he met it in 2011, adding that without infrastructural development, the economic and social well-being of the people could not be guaranteed. He promised not to abandon any project.
At the meeting were traditional rulers, representatives of ethnic groups, civil servants, top government functionaries, labour union leaders, artisans, students and professionals, among others.