Senate President Bukola Saraki has come under intense criticism from Twitter users for admitting that he slashed the budget for the Lagos-Ibadan expressway.
Senate President Bukola Saraki waits to meet actors in Lagos (AGN)
Senate President Bukola Saraki has come under intense criticism from Twitter users after he owned up to slashing the budget for the Lagos-Ibadan expressway—the nation’s busiest road.
The 2017 budget, like others before it, was a source of disagreement and bitter exchanges between the Executive and Legislative arms of government.
At one point, Works and Housing Minister Babatunde Raji Fashola took on the national assembly for allegedly sabotaging his ministry.
In June of 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari lamented budgetary cuts to a slew of capital projects in the appropriation bill that had been returned to the executive by the national assembly.
The president’s remarks
Buhari had said: “The national assembly made cuts amounting to 347 billion Naira in the allocations to 4,700 projects submitted to them for consideration and introduced 6,403 projects of their own amounting to 578 billion Naira.
“Many of the projects cut are critical and may be difficult, if not impossible, to implement with the reduced allocation. Some of the new projects inserted by the national assembly have not been properly conceptualized, designed and costed and will therefore be difficult to execute”.
Buhari listed projects from which cuts were made as the “nationally/regionally strategic infrastructure projects such as counter-part funding for the Mambilla Power Plant, Second Niger Bridge/ancillary roads, the East-West Road, Bonny-Bodo Road, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and Itakpe-Ajaokuta Rail Project which were cut by an aggregate of 11.5 billion Naira”, among others.
The president added that “provisions for some ongoing critical infrastructure projects in the FCT, Abuja, especially major arterial roads and the mass transit rail project, were cut by a total of 7.5 billion Naira”.
Buhari also noted that while cuts were made to critical infrastructure projects, “the budget of the national assembly itself has been increased by 14.5 billion Naira, from 125 billion Naira to 139.5 billion Naira without any discussion with the executive”.
During an interactive session with young professionals in Lagos this week, Saraki explained why the budget for the rehabilitation of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway was slashed.
“In 2017 when I kicked and said Lagos-Ibadan road…I cut the amount of the budget by N30billion. Before I knew it, Oba of Lagos…which other Oba….had called me to say now you are fighting…I said no Kabiyesi, these people (executive) are deceiving you. You cannot do Lagos-Ibadan road funded by government”, Saraki said.
The senate president added that a project like the Lagos-Ibadan expressway required “stable, secured funds, not one where the contractor doesn’t know if money will come out today…that is why if you go back to the newspapers, the beginning of this government, Fashola (Minister of Works), everybody in this government, said by 2019, Lagos-Ibadan will be fixed. It can’t be. Government should not be the one doing it”.
Saraki said the “people in the (works) ministry” embark on these projects “because they want to chop from the contract”.
The senate president proposed that private sector participation is the best blueprint for Nigeria if leaders intend to fix critical infrastructure or complete projects.
However, some Twitter users have been hanging out Saraki to dry for his comments…
The national assembly had said at the time that it altered the budget to reflect geopolitical balance.
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