The Federal Government has cut its budget for the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway from N66bn to N50bn in the 2016 Appropriation Bill, representing a drop of 24 per cent.
Currently undergoing reconstruction, the two contractors handling the project, Julius Berger Plc and Reynolds Construction Company (Nigeria) Limited, are being owed several billions of naira for the job executed.
They have vacated the road following the unpaid debts and a recent court injunction obtained by Bi-Courtney Highway Services Limited, setting aside a concession agreement granted Motorway Assets Limited to finance the project and manage it.
Not more than N50bn has been raised by the government for the N167bn road project, which is expected to be completed next year.
In the initial budget for 2016 presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammad Buhari, N66bn was voted for the highway among other road projects.
But in the reviewed copy obtained on Friday, the appropriation for the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway had come down to N50bn.
Although no reasons were officially offered for the slash, it was learnt that this was to ensure judicious distribution of funds that would be available for the year in view of the dwindling revenue from the oil.
A total of N244.123bn has been earmarked for the construction and provision of road facilities across the country in the reviewed 2016 Appropriation Bill.
This also showed some adjustments when compared with what was contained in the former proposal earlier sighted by one of our correspondents.
For instance, an analysis of appropriations for the Federal Ministry of Works, Power and Housing showed a series of adjustments in the section that captured construction, provision and repair of roads across the country.
The latest report showed that N244.123bn was budgeted for the construction and provision of roads while the government earmarked N277.95m for the rehabilitation and repairs of other items aside from roads.
From the latest bill, it was clear that the government raised the appropriation for road construction/provision by N45.73bn when compared with the N198.39bn initially appropriated for the construction/provision and rehabilitation/repairs of roads in the first bill earlier presented by the President.
Under the construction/provision section in the latest bill for the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, the highest allocation was appropriated for the construction and provision of roads.
Out of a total of N326.886bn appropriated for the construction and provision of fixed assets in the ministry, the road sector alone received N244.123bn, representing 74.68 per cent of the total.
The remaining N82.763bn or 25.32 per cent was shared among other sectors such as housing and electricity.
Indeed, the construction/provision of housing got N49.53bn; the construction/provision of electricity received N25.1bn, while the vote for the construction/provision of office buildings was put at N6.16bn.
Others are the construction/provision of infrastructure, N1.1bn; water facilities, N686.95m; rehabilitation/repairs of public schools, N42m; and rehabilitation of office buildings, N171.25m, amongst others.
Senior government officials at the works ministry told one of our correspondents that the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, would soon give directives on the commencement of work on selected federal roads.
According to them, the minister is presently working out ways to settle some of the debts owed contractors in order to encouraged them to move to the project sites.
An official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “Work will commence on our roads soon. The minister has been on tour for some weeks now, and he is trying to see how the government can settle some of the debts owed contractors so that they can return to project sites when called upon.
“So, on whether the government is ready to fulfil its pledge concerning road construction, I can assure you that very soon many contractors will resume work on these roads.”
While unveiling the Federal Government’s blueprint on infrastructural development in December last year, Fashola had stated that the present administration would give priority attention to the completion of major highways.
Fashola had said, “Our short-term strategy will be to start with roads that have made some progress and can be quickly completed to facilitate connectivity. We will prioritise within this strategy by choosing first the roads that connect states together, and from that grouping, we will start with those that bear the heaviest traffic.”
EFCC Finally Arrests Okorocha After Hours of Siege, Gives Reason
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has finally arrested the All Progressives Congress’ presidential candidate and former governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha after laying siege on his residence for hours.
Security operatives attached to the EFCC had surrounded the residence of the former governor earlier on Tuesday and before they finally arrested him late in the evening.
Investors King can confirm that lots of gunshots and tear gas canisters were fired to disperse angry supporters of the lawmaker who tried to resist the arrest before he was finally arrested.
According to an official of the anti-graft agency, Okorocha will be taken to the headquarters of the commission where he will be until May 30 when he will be arraigned in court.
In an official statement obtained by Investors King, signed by the EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, “the move to arrest Okorocha was followed by the refusal of the former governor to honour invitations after jumping the administrative bail earlier granted him by the Commission.
“EFCC had on January 24, 2022, filed a 17-count criminal charge bordering on diversion of public funds and properties to the tune of N2.9bn against Okorocha.
“The case was assigned to Honourable Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja but attempts to arraign Senator Okorocha was twice stalled owing to the absence of the ex-governor who evaded service of processes”.
EFCC added that at the last adjourned date, March 28th 2022, Justice Ekwo, before adjourning until May 30th, 2022, had warned that it was “the last adjournment I shall grant in this matter”.
“In the circumstances, the Commission is left with no option but to effect the arrest of Senator Okorocha and bring him to trial”, the statement had read.
Russia Halts Supply of Gas to Finland, Disagrees on Payment Mode
Russia’s majority state-owned multinational energy corporation, PJSC Gazprom, on Saturday, halted gas exports to one of its neighbouring countries, Finland, in the latest escalation of an energy payments dispute with Western nations.
A statement released by Finland’s gas system operator, Gasgrid said: “Gas imports through Imatra entry point have been stopped.
“Starting from today, during the upcoming summer season, Gasum will supply natural gas to its customers from other sources through the Balticconnector pipeline”.
Investors King gathered that majority of the European supply contracts are denominated in Euros or Dollars and Moscow already cut off gas to Bulgaria and Poland last month after they refused to comply with the new payment terms.
Imatra is the entry point for Russian gas into Finland and even though majority of the gas used in Finland comes from Russia, gas only accounts for about five per cent of its annual energy consumption.
Gazprom Export has requested that European countries pay for Russian gas supplies in Russian currency (roubles) because of sanctions imposed over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, but Finland refuses to do so.
Gazprom Export, on Friday, said: “flows would be cut because Gasum had not complied with the new Russian rules requiring settlement in roubles.”
Earlier on Friday, the Finnish state-owned gas wholesaler, Gasum had said the Russian Gazprom warned that flows would be halted from 04:00 GMT on Saturday morning.
The decision is coming at a time when Finland and Sweden announced that they were going to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) military alliance, a decision inspired by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Last week, the Finish Prime minister, Sanna Marin had said: “When we look at Russia, we see a very different kind of Russia today than we saw just a few months ago.
“Everything changed when Russia attacked Ukraine. And I personally think that we cannot trust anymore that there will be a peaceful future next to Russia.”
Marin noted that joining NATO is “an act of peace [so] that there will never again be war in Finland in the future”.
According to Swedish leader Andersson, “to ensure the safety of Swedish people, the best way forward is to join NATO together with Finland”.
The announcements were met with support from leaders in almost all NATO nations.
US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken told reporters that the United States would strongly support the NATO application by either Sweden or Finland should they choose to formally apply to the alliance.
Investors King recalls that Russia had in April, announced the suspension of gas supply to Poland and Bulgaria on the same payment disputes.
FG Resumes Conditional Cash Transfer Programme Across Six Local Govt. In Kebbi
The Federal Government has resumed the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programme in Kebbi State, commencing with a payment of N9.24bn to 76,107 CCT beneficiaries.
The National Coordinator of the programme, Hajiya Halima Shehu, made the announcement during a state visit to Governor Atiku Bagudu in Birnin Kebbi.
“As at now, payment to CCT beneficiaries is ongoing in the state. A total number of 76,107 beneficiaries across six local government areas of Bagudu, Danko, Wasagu, Dandi, Jega, and Shanga, will be receiving the payment. The beneficiaries will be receiving 26 months of payment circles, starting from January to February 2020.
“The payment will be in two batches of those 60,000 beneficiaries for four payment cycles, using the virtual account. The second batch has 70,107 beneficiaries for nine payment cycles through the debit cards. The total amount for the two batches in the state, according to Shehu, was over N9.24 billion.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria, in partnership with the World Bank in 2016, designed and developed a safety net programme for Nigeria under the platform of National Social Safety Net Programme (NASSP).
“One of the components of NASSP is the national conditional cash transfer office responsible for implementing the household uplifting- conditional cash transfer to the poor and the vulnerable households across the country,” she said.
Shehu commended the governor for providing her an audience and the chance to update him on the commencement of payments and the state’s successful implementation of the program.
Responding, Gov. Bagudu, represented by his Deputy, Alhaji Samaila Yombe-Dabai, thanked the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, headed by Hajiya Sadiya Umar-Farouq, for actualising the programme in the state.
“I assure you that the state government will do all it takes to support the success of the programme in the state.
“We are looking forward to getting more local governments to be involved in the cash transfer programme,” Bagudu said.
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