By Ikechukwu Okaforadi and Musa Baba Adamu
Senate yesterday criticised the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, over his allegation that the lawmakers make poor budgetary allocations to the Ministry of Works and prioritizing of their constituency projects above others, hence the deplorable states of federal roads.
In a statement issued by its spokesperson, Ajibola Basiru (APC Osun Central), the Senate alleged that the Works Minister blamed the Senate and by extension, the National Assembly for disrepair state of Federal roads in Benue South and poor budgetary allocations for road projects across the country.
Basiru had in the statement titled: “Senate Debunks Minister’s Claim on Budgetary Allocations to Road Construction”, alleged that Fashola lied against the Senate in his office last Monday during a courtesy call on him by retired Generals and leaders of thought from Benue South Senatorial District on bad state of Federal roads in the area.
Senator Basiru in the statement alleged that Fashola told the Air Vice Marshall Morgan led delegation that deplorable state of roads in that part of the country was caused by the Senate and by extension, the National Assembly through poor budgetary allocations.
Basiru accused the Minister of telling the delegation that N600 billion proposed for road projects in the 2020 budget was not approved in any way despite prioritizing implementation of their constituency projects.
The statement reads in part: “The Senate has taken exception to a statement credited to Mr Babatunde Raji Fasola, the Hon. Minister of works that the National Assembly should be held responsible for the dilapidated state of Federal roads in Benue State, describing it as a “fallacy of the highest order”
“The Hon. Minister was quoted to have made the allegation in his office in Abuja during a courtesy call by retired Generals and ‘other leaders of thought’ from Benue South Senatorial District led by Air Vice Marshal Morgan Monday who came to complain about the deplorable state of roads in the senatorial district.
“The Senate and the National Assembly can not and should not be held responsible for the dilapidated state of roads whether in Benue State or any part of the country.
“Putting the records straight, the Senate gave the figures of the 2020 proposal for capital expenditure as N265, 868 037,093 billion Naira by the Executive which the National Assembly passed.
“The Executive later brought revised allocation of N256, 734,983,667 billion Naira which we also appropriated just as the N363, 266, 425, 976 billion capital expenditure proposed for the Ministry in 2021 fiscal year , is being looked into.
“The Senate then wondered where the Hon. Minister got his figure ofN 600 billion Naira which he said was the figure proposed to the National Assembly by his ministry and which was allegedly not supported or approved by the National Assembly
“On the Minister’s allusion and or allegation to prioritising constituency projects over other projects, the Senate affirmed that the Hon Minister was merely calling a pity party and being sentimental adding the statement was made 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 ever been diverted to constituency projects as constituency projects are having allocations in the budget”
But Fashola in his reaction through his Media Adviser, Hakeem Bello, said Senator Basiru’s statement was premised on speculation or hear say and not what actually took place or said.
According to Hakeem Bello, the said meeting between the Minister and delegation from Benue South took place two weeks ago and not last Monday as erroneously claimed.
“Besides, the meeting between the leaders of thoughts from Benue South and the Hon Minister, was more of situation report on state of roads from that part of the country and not protestation cum blame game discussion between the two parties.
“The most baffling aspect of the whole thing is that the said meeting was not given media coverage , making one to wonder where the Senator got his information from , as nothing of such was reported in the media two weeks ago”.
Though he said he was still making frantic efforts to reach out to the Distinguished Senator on where he got his information from but,” all the allusions he made, were wrong as for example , the projected capital budget for the Ministry in 2020 as presented by President Muhamnadu Buhari on Tuesday , October 8, 2020, was N262billion and not N600billion the Hon Minister was alleged to have complained about”
“The same thing goes for allegation on prioritizing of constituency projects above other ones, levelled against the Hon Minister.
“The only place the Hon Minister blamed the National Assembly on delay of execution of some federal road projects , was at the Senate wing of the National Assembly itself during 2021 budget defence session last week before joint committees on works.
“The roads in question are Abuja – Kaduna – Zaria and Kabo due to petitions written against the their designs hitherto planned for 2 lanes, rejected and changed to 3 lanes, rejected again and changed to 2 lanes now”, he said.