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.”
Boko Haram Kills Rice Farmers in Borno State, Northeast Nigeria
Rice farmers were killed on Saturday morning in the Northeast Nigeria by suspected Islamist militants, Boko Haram, according to a Reuters Report.
The report also noted that 30 of the people killed were beheaded while over a dozen others were still missing.
However, resident of the Zambarmari Village where the attacks took place said a total of 70 people were feared dead.
Another resident and Amnesty International were quoted as saying at least 10 women were among those missing.
In another statement by Edward Kallon, the United Nations’ humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, it was armed men on motorcycles that led the brutal attack on civilians harvesting their fields.
“Armed men on motorcycles led a brutal attack on civilian men and women who were harvesting their fields,” Edward Kallon stated.
“At least 110 civilians were ruthlessly killed and many others were wounded in this attack,” he added, noting that several women are believed to have been kidnapped.
“The incident is the most violent direct attack against innocent civilians this year. I call for the perpetrators of this heinous and senseless act to be brought to justice,” Kallon said.
On Sunday, Governor Babaganan Umara Zulum of Borno State, who was at the burial told journalists that at least 70 farmers were killed on Saturday.
The Governor, therefore, called on the Federal Government to recruit more Civilian Joint Task Force members, Soldiers and civil defence fighters to protect farmers in the region.
He added that people are facing desperate choices.
“In one side, they stay at home they may be killed by hunger and starvation, on the other, they go out to their farmlands and risk getting killed by the insurgents,” he said.
In The Fight Against Corruption, No Individual is Bigger Than The State – Buhari
In response to the suspended acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, President Muhammed Buhari, lamented that the anti-corruption war becomes endangered “when persons entrusted with the responsibility of that magnitude become suspects themselves.”
Buhari, whose vision is to put an end to corruption in Nigeria, believed that every aspect of the nation’s life is enshrined in corruption and it’s of major concern when leaders of institutions saddled with the mandate to fight the menace are found in the waves of the corruption they claimed to be fighting.
This act is a great abomination not only because it strikes at the root but it also trivialises and undermines the anti-corruption crusade itself, the President explained.
He further said that in a bid to put an end to this great abomination, he had set up Ayo Salami Panel to unravel the mystery behind the mystique of Magu’s alleged involvement in corruption that his administration is fighting.
Buhari said that his administration is ready and willing to go all out in the fight against corruption, and no one is too big nor above the law to become a victim of anti-graft’s sledgehammer.
The president said, “However, the stark reality of widespread corruption becomes poignant when allegations of corruption touch on the leadership of an institution set up by law to coordinate and enforce all economic and financial crimes.
“It is an abomination that strikes at the root and undermines the government’s anti-corruption programme.
“It was in response to the serious allegations against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that I set up a panel headed by the Honourable Justice Isa Ayo Salami, retired President of the Court of Appeal, via an Instrument dated 3rd July 2020 pursuant to the Tribunals of Inquiry Act (Cap T21, LFN, 2004).
“We recognise that there are more grounds to cover in the war against corruption, and we are prepared to go out to possess those lands by cutting off any stream that nourishes the seed of corruption and supports its growth.
“Let it be known that in the fight against corruption, no one is too big to tackle, as no individual is bigger than the Nigerian State!”
In Search For The New EFCC Chairman, Justice Ayo Salami Panel Advises Buhari to Look Outside The Police Force
Justice Ayo Salami’s panel advised President Muhammadu Buhari to look outside the Nigerian Police Force for the new Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
A credible source confirmed that President Muhammadu Buhari may have decided to follow the panel recommendation to avoid a similar fate to that of Magu, the former chairman.
The source also confirmed that the panel recommendation was a result of sleaze allegations against suspended acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu. Also, that search team would be constituted in the next few days to slim down the possibilities of finding the right candidate to bring into reality the President’s vision of a corrupt-free anti-graft agency.
The source further confirmed that “the sleaze and abuse of office allegations against Magu, a commissioner of police, were overwhelming,” and that he may be put on trial.
As advised by the panel, the new EFCC chairman should be in interim position for two years.
It was suggested that the recommendation from the Justice Ayo Salami panel might have pinned Magu, according to Femi Adesina, the presidential spokesman, he advised president Buhari to consider looking into other law enforcement or security agencies, as well as considering important and diligent staff of EFCC in his plans to appoint the next EFCC chairman, as s provided in the EFCC Establishment Act of 2004.
Following the Justice Ayo Salami panel recommendation, Salami said “Your Excellency, permit me to say that four successive chairmen of the EFCC from inception have been drawn from the police. Therefore, in appointing a new chairman of EFCC, consideration should be given to candidates from other law enforcement or security agencies and qualified core staff of EFCC as provided in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment Act 2004).
“It is also important to point out that at the moment, 970 policemen (114 drivers, 641 mobile policemen and 215 operations), are on secondment in the EFCC.
“Therefore, an exit plan for the disengagement of the police and other personnel within two years from now should be considered. This will address the issue of non-promotion of core staff for over nine years.
“Your Excellency, our thinking here is that whoever you are appointing other than a core EFCC staff, should be in transitional capacity of two years during which period, the arrangement would be made for the appointment of any of the core staff who has been commended by National Crime Agency, UK and other international law enforcement for their professionalism”.
Justice Ayo Salami appreciated the president for giving members of the panel an avenue to serve the country.
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