• Says four years too short to design, build roads
Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has called for the elongation of appointment of the Minister of Works and critical directors in the ministry, saying a four-year term is too short to design roads, undertake procurement and building the roads.
Fashola made the call yesterday in Abuja while unveiling a compendium on “Proof of Infrastructural Delivery across Nigeria,” a three-year special report of the ministry.
He stated: “Government cycles in the last 20 years have been fixed tenures of four years at a time, subject to how the electorate vote. Personnel changes are effected by retirement, deployment, opportunities and cabinet reshuffles. As a result, critical directors, permanent secretaries and ministers are turned over in a quest for efficiency.
“In all, since 1952 to date, Nigeria has had 34 ministers of works and I am number 34 in a period of 67 years. This amounts to an average of a minister every 1.9 years.
“A further interrogation of the data of tenure shows that very few of them served for up to four years and above and the majority served a little over a year, which is barely enough time to design a road not to talk of undertaking the procurement and actually building the road.”
He said the executive, legislative and judicial arms of government as a matter of urgency needed to forge a national consensus on how to overcome some of the challenges that the nation has faced in the delivery of urgently needed national infrastructure.
Fashola also called on the National Assembly to amend the Procurement Act, saying that the country’s procurement process must be urgent and be compelling to the national need.
Reeling out some of the achievements, on the road sector, the minister revealed that there is at least one federal road under construction in each of the 36 states and the FCT, saying while some have been completed, others are still under construction.
He gave reasons why President Muhammadu Buhari was re-elected, promising to take them to the Next Level and finish the job.
Fashola added that the housing sector has a similar story of economic opportunities with construction going on in 34 states, most of which are now largely completed, adding that the ministry was now in the administrative state of setting better conditions for eligibility and offer to the public, while simultaneously planning a second phase in those states that have given us land.
The minister noted that the ministry has cleared the backlog of unsigned consent to land transactions and issuance of certificates of transparency.
According to him, “As at April 13, 2019, we have issued 1,417 consents to land transactions; and 2,400 certificates of occupancy. Some of the beneficiaries have paid for their properties as far back as the 1990s; but did not get title. Very simply, we have made this place better than we met it. That is what our mandate for change meant and still means; making it better.”
The minister also explained that while the whole of Nigeria has focused on power from the grid for six decades in the search for a solution to the energy problem, the Buhari government has opened a new page through the ministry about the possibilities that lie in the off-grid sector.
Fashola said through this initiative and the Rural Electrification Agency, seven universities, two teaching hospitals are currently having their own independent power solution deployed at various states.
He stressed that preparatory works had been undertaken on all sites, while all the equipment have arrived in Nigerian ports and some have been cleared, while others are being attended to.
He said solar system and panels for the Ebonyi University have been installed and the plant would soon be completed.
Also, the Chairman, Senate Committee on works, Senator Kabir Gaya, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his commitment to infrastructural development, stressing that roads that have been abandoned for 18 years are now back on track, including Ilorin-Jebba-Mokwa road.
On his part, the Chairman House Committee on Housing, Hon. Mahmoud Muhammed, said that the only reason while he won’t say the programme was coming late was because the president was re-elected, adding that the compendium was meant to inform Nigerians about the achievement of this government.
Earlier, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, said that the ministry has made his job easier than it could have been, adding that if there is no achievement there would be nothing to propagate.