PDP Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur
By Chuks Okocha
National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, Tuesday explained why serving ministers and other members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) were directed to render their stewardship account to the party, stating that the PDP remains the only vehicle to reach the electorate that voted the party into power.
The PDP national chairman, who spoke when the Minister of Works, Mr. Mike Onolememen, and his Minister of State Bashier Yuguda, presented their scorecard, said the party was the vehicle from which President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration was elected into office.
It was gathered that the ministers’ appearance before the National Working Committee (NWC) was part of the federal government’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to assess them ahead of next ministerial reshuffle.
Speaking when Onolememen appeared before the NWC to give account of his stewardship, Tukur said: “The ministers are the executors of government policies. Party drew the programmes through the manifestos. We go to the people who are the electorates and convince them to vote for the party.
“It is through the perfect execution of the programmes of the party that the dividends of democracy are extended to the people who are the electorate. So, the party is interested in how you execute the programmes of the party. It is when you inform us of what you do that the party as the vehicle go back to the electorate and inform them of what PDP is doing.”
The PDP chairman, who charged the ministers to be good ambassadors of the party by delivering the dividends of democracy to the people, urged the minister to evolve policies that would cushion the effect of bad roads across the country since roads were like the veins in human beings, which carry out all economic activities in the society.
In accounting for his stewardship, Onolememen said one of the major problems affecting road construction and rehabilitation in the country was poor budgetary allocation.
According to him, “the annual funding requirement enable the ministry to perform its duties adequately is N416 billion,” but, however, noted that the average annual budget provision for the ministry was N116 billion.
He said the budgetary deficiency had left a vacuum of an additional funding of N300 billion to the ministry.
He further stated that in the 2012 budget to the ministry, N133 billion was budgeted for highway projects, but said only N102 billion was released to the ministry, leaving a shortfall of N31 billion.
Onolememen explained that because of paucity of funds, the ministry prioritised its policies by reducing the ongoing road projects in the country from 168 to 80 in 2012 and had, therefore, completed 70 per cent of the ongoing road projects.
It listed the Abuja-Lokoja-Benin road projects, Kano-Potiskum-Maiduguri road project, Onitsha- Enugu Expressway and the Benin-Ore-Shagamu rehabilitation projects as major road projects that substantial progress had been made in the ongoing major economic routes.
The minister added that there was accelerated procurement and break grounds on the second Niger Bridge in Anambra State and the Oweto Bridge in Benue State, as well as fast tracking the completion of roads to the seaports, airports and refineries.
In 2012, he said there were 160 ongoing projects, out of which 16.9 per cent had been completed with 9.6 per cent proposed for alternative funding through the Public Private Partnership (PPP) scheme, while 3.1 per cent of the projects were at the procurement stage at the PPP department and the Road Safety Department Team of the ministry.
He hinted that 70.4 per cents of the projects were ongoing at the various stages of completion.
Onoloememen, who said works on the Second Niger Bridge was a done deal with the commencement of early works with Julius Berger Plc and Aim Consortium already emerging as the preferred bidder, said what was going on at the Second Niger Bridge was the geo-technical aspects of the work, which he described as ‘very technical’.
He assured that the flooding that affected the vehicular movement on the Abuja-Lokoja road would not repeat itself as the ministry had taken care of the necessary details, should there be a reoccurrence.
The minister also said the ministry has earmarked N20 billion to be paid to states’ government out of the verified N42 billion budgeted for the states that have worked on federal roads.