By Christiana Ekpa
The Deputy Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Toby Okechukwu, has expressed serious concern over Nigeria’s decrepit road infrastructure, urging the Presidency to support National Assembly’s effort to provide lasting solutions to the challenge in the New Year.
Okechukwu made his views known in his New Year message to Nigerians on Wednesday.
The lawmaker, who observed that the ugly state of Nigerian roads could only change if the nation also changed her approach to road governance and funding, said that experience over the years had shown that the road needs could not be met through annual budgetary provisions.
He observed that annual budgets for the roads were not only very marginal when compared to the challenges, but were also never substantially released.
“Finding lasting solutions to the poor state of Nigerian roads should take pre-eminence in 2020 because Nigerians deserve good roads to meet their socio-economic needs.
“Therefore, the House of Representatives passed the National Roads Fund Bill and Federal Roads Bill as permanent solutions to the poor road infrastructure.
“While the National Road Fund Bill will establish a National Roads Fund to provide predictable and sustainable funding for road maintenance in order to promote the sustainable development and management of the nation’s road network, the Federal Roads Bill will establish an agency to govern and manage the nation’s federal roads network.
“Although both Bills did not receive presidential assent in the 8th National Assembly, we reintroduced and passed them in the current House of Representatives, just before the Christmas break, as they remain the real panacea to our road challenges.
“In doing so, we addressed the concerns raised by the President in the 8th NASS. So, it is our hope that the Presidency will partner the National Assembly to ensure that the Bills are passed and signed into law this time to change the face of our roads and boost socio-economic development in the country”.
Hon. Okechukwu wished Nigerians a happy New Year, urging them to keep hope alive in 2020.