National Assembly accuses Fashola of blackmail


The Senate and House of Representatives are

squaring up to Works, Housing and Power

Minister Babatunde Fashola over allegation that

the legislature messed up the ministry’s 2017


They described the minister’s allegation as wrong

information, half truth and blackmail.

Fashola, last week, accused the lawmakers of

slashing his ministry’s appropriation for some

critical projects, and at the same time

introducing 100 new projects to the 200

uncompleted ones he inherited from the

Jonathan administration.

The first response came from the Senate whose

spokesman, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, said Fashola did

not give the public full details about the Lagos-

Ibadan Expressway.

Abdullahi said the project commenced as a

private finance initiative whereas the minister

prefers an arrangement that allows the Ministry

to continue to award contracts and fund the

project through government budgetary allocation

at a time when the nation’s revenue is dwindling.

According to him, the Bureau of Public

Procurement, and the Federal Executive Council

in 2013, approved the reconstruction,

rehabilitation and expansion of the Lagos-Ibadan

expressway as a Public Private Partnership

project using the Private Finance Initiative, with

the Federal Government providing about 30

percent of the funding while the balance shall be

provided by the private sector.

The project was on course for completion by end

of 2017 when the private finance initiative was

being implemented, with over 30 percent

completion rate attained as at early 2015.

Abdullahi further noted that in a blatant disregard

for existing agreements, constituted authorities

and extant laws, Fashola on assumption of office

got government through the Ministry to start

voting money for the implementation of the


“Even as at last year the 2016 Appropriation Act

voted N40 billion for the project on the

insistence of the Ministry and only N26 billion

was released. If we had known, the rest N14

billion could have been allocated to other critical

roads across the country”, he said.

He added: “In the spirit of consensus building

and effective stakeholder engagement, the

leadership of the Senate met with key relevant

stakeholders, including the Ministries of Works

and finance.

“It was agreed that we should give the Private

Finance Initiative a chance to complement

government’s resources in the delivery of critical

infrastructure assets across the country. Hence,

in this year’s budget, we have engaged with the

Government and private sector groups who have

assured that they will resume funding of the


“So, we only provided the fund in the budget that

would ensure work does not stop before the

funds from the private sector start coming in

.What we reduced from Lagos-Ibadan

Expressway in the 2017 budget estimate was

spread on Oyo-Ogbomoso road in the South-west,

Enugu-Onitsha road in the South-East, and two

other critical roads in the North-East and North-

West; and this was done to achieve equity. The

Minister should realise he is Minister for the

entire country and not just that of Lagos State.

“It is our view that the Federal Government

cannot fund the reconstruction and maintenance

of all the 34,000 kilometres of roads under its

care. We are looking for private funds for some

of these roads, particularly those with high

potentials of attracting private investors. These

include the Enugu-Onitsha road, Kano-Abuja road

and Abuja-Lokoja road. It has been our hope that

the Lagos -Ibadan road would be a model for

private sector funding of infrastructure in the


The Senator said Fashola’s statement was in

bad taste and should “desist from spreading half-


“When he said the National Assembly imported

projects into the 2017 budget, he did not mention

that these include the 26 projects which the

Federal Government approved in the 2016

budget, awarded contract for them in January

2016, but totally omitted them in the 2017

budget. One of them is the Abuja-Kaduna road.

These ones would have become abandoned

projects. We reduced funds across board to

make provision for these omitted projects that

are of critical importance to the socio-economic

development of the country in line with equity

and fair play.”

For its part, the House of Representatives said

Fashola’s remarks were meant to paint the

National Assembly as an irresponsible institution,

“one not concerned with the welfare of the

people, and set the Executive and Legislature on

an unnecessary collision course on matters of

power rather than issues that benefit the

Nigerian people.”

House Spokesman, Abdulrazaq Namdas said ”

the decision to redistribute the projects proposed

by the ministry was in order to ensure an even

spread of projects across all regions, which the

proposal of the executive had failed to do.

“Considering that the funds that were allocated

for the second Niger Bridge in 2016 were

returned untouched at the end of the year, the

National Assembly decided to reduce N5 billion

from the 2017 Budget for 2nd Niger Bridge to

fund other projects from the South East, leaving

N7 billion for the second Niger Bridge.

“The truth is that in the 2016 Budget, N12 billion

was appropriated for the second Niger Bridge

and not a kobo was spent by the Ministry. Not a

kobo. The money was returned. The Ministry

could not provide the Committees of the

National Assembly with evidence of an

agreement on the Public Private Partnership

(PPP) or a contract for the 2nd Niger Bridge.

“The projects include – N2.5 billion extra for

Enugu/Onitsha Road, N1 billion more for 9th

Mile/Nsukka/Makurdi Road; additional N500m for

Oturkpa- Makurdi to take care of evacuation of

agricultural produce up to Maiduguri; N1 billion

more for Ikot Ekpene-Aba-Owerri Road etc.

These are strategic Roads in the South-East and

North Central parts of Nigeria that had

inadequate allocations.

“The National Assembly had to intervene to fund

some other critical roads that were totally

neglected in the Executive Budget proposal,

including the Abuja- Kaduna – Zaria – Kano

Road that had Zero allocation from the

President’s proposal and no contract, even in

spite of due process certification.

“N5 billion was provided in the 2016 Budget. It

was not utilised. In 2017 Budget, the National

Assembly again provided N3 billion for this very

critical road that connects many states and

where incidents of kidnapping are rife because

of bad roads, as we believe that all parts of

Nigeria deserve attention or would the Minister

also claim that this road has no design?”

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