Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Minister of Power, Works and Housing seems to be angry with the National Assembly. Fashola in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media, Mr Hakeem Bello lambasted the lawmakers: “Taking the projects, which the lawmakers chose to focus on one after the other, there is no subsisting concession agreement on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.”
“What the Infrastructure Construction Regulatory Commission, ICRC, has is a financing agreement from a consortium of banks, which is like a loan that still has to be paid back through budgetary provisions. There is no fallacy or half truth in the allegation that the budgets were reduced. The spokespersons admitted this much and now sought to rationalize it by a concession or financing arrangement that has failed to build the road since 2006.”
“In the case of the Second Niger Bridge, where one of the spokespersons alleged that the provision in 2016 budget was not spent and had to be returned, this displays very stark and worrisome gaps in knowledge of the spokesperson about the budget process he was addressing. A budget is not cash; it is an approval of estimates of expenditure to be financed by cash from the Ministry of Finance.”
“On Mambila Power Project, the issues that the Budget for the Mambila Power Project was slashed because it contained a “whopping N17 billion” for Environmental Impact Assessment, EIA,, the minister said there was, indeed, a mis-description of that particular Expenditure Head which could have happened during the classification of so many thousands of budget heads in the Budget estimates.”
“At a joint meeting convened at the instance of the Budget Minister when I complained that the budget was slashed, the issue of EIA was brought to my attention and I explained what it was meant for.”
“In any event, allegations of half truth is only a flawed response to the constitutional and developmental issues that have plagued Nigeria from 1999 about how to budget for critical infrastructure in Nigeria. ‘’It shows the conflict between the Executive that wants to build big federal highways; bridges; power plants; rail; and dams on one hand and Parliament that wants to do small things like boreholes, health centres, street lights and supplying grinding machines.
“As long as budgets planned to deliver life changing infrastructure are cut into small pieces, Nigeria will continue to have small projects that are not life changing , and big projects that have not been completed in 17 years . ‘’If a project would cost N15 billion and the contractor gets only a fraction of that, then things won’t move. Success should be defined by how many projects an administration is able to complete or set on the path of irreversible completion and not how many poorly funded contracts are awarded.