Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The National Assembly on Sunday washed its hands off the deplorable condition of federal roads in Benue State, saying it was not to blame for the current state of the highways in the food basket state.
The Assembly was responding to recent claims by the Works and Housing Minister, Babatunde Fashola, that the federal parliament was responsible for the terrible state of roads in Benue State.
Fashola was quoted to have made the allegation last Monday in Abuja while playing host to retired Generals and ‘other leaders of thought’ from Benue South Senatorial District led by Air Vice Marshal Morgan, following complaints about the deplorable state of roads in the senatorial district by members of the delegation.
Reacting to the allegation on behalf of the National Assembly, Senate Spokesman, Senator Ajibola Basiru, in a release said the National Assembly cannot and should not be held responsible for the deplorable state of roads whether in Benue State or any part of the country.
According to Ajibola, the decision to respond to the claims by the minister became imperative in view of setting the records straight, particularly against the backdrop of how critical the issue of road infrastructure is to the nation’s development.
He said: “Much as the upper chamber would not want to engage in any unnecessary altercation with the minister, it is however necessary to speak up because the issue of roads infrastructure is too important and controversial a matter to be ignored where the National Assembly has been fingered by a serving minister.
“The records must be set right so that the two arms of government should not be seen as working at cross purposes in the course of delivering good governance to the electorate.
“For the 2020 fiscal year, the National Assembly approved the request for 265,868,037,093 billion naira for capital expenditure by the Executive. The Executive later brought a revised allocation of 256,734,983,667 billion naira which we also appropriated. As we speak, even in the budget proposal for 2021, the Executive proposed a capital expenditure of 363,266,425,976 billion naira.
“The upper chamber cannot help but wonder where Mr. Fashola got his figure of 600 billion naira which he said was proposed by his ministry and allegedly not approved by the National Assembly. The Senate, therefore, invites Nigerians and specifically the minister’s guests from Benue South Senatorial District to note that figures do not lie.”
Ajibola listed three road constructions which are ongoing in Benue South to include Oju-Adum Okuku road at N91,180 000; Oturko Township road at N357,200,000; and Oju/Loko – Oweto bridge at a cost of N357,200,000.
The Senate spokesman further described the allegations by the works minister suggesting that the National Assembly gave priority to constituency projects over other projects as an attempt to incite Nigerians against the legislative arm of government.
“On the minister’s allegation that priority is given to constituency projects over other projects, is an attempt to set the National Assembly on collision course with the people they are democratically representing.
“It should be emphasized, therefore, that never has allocations specifically meant for other projects been diverted to constituency projects as the later have specific allocations in the budget,” he stated.