Ajibola and Fashola

By Kazeem Ugbpodaga

Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Ajibola Basiru, has debunked claims that the National Assembly was responsible for the deplorable state of roads in Benue State as alleged recently by the Minister for Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola.

Fashola was quoted to have made the allegation on Monday in his office in Abuja during a courtesy visit by 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.

But in a reaction, the Senate Spokesman, Senator Ajibola Basiru, in a statement to the media on Sunday, 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.

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“The attention of the Senate was recently drawn to disturbing and erroneous claims made by the Minister for Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola.

“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 electorates.

“For the 2020 fiscal year, the National Assembly approved the request for N265,868,037,093 for capital expenditure by the Executive.

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“The Executive later brought a revised allocation of N256,734,983,667  which we also appropriated. As we speak, even in the budget proposal for 2021, the Executive proposed a capital expenditure of N363,266,425,976.

“The upper chamber cannot help but wonder where Mr. Fashola got his figure of N600 billion 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.”

The Senate Spokesman 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 allegations by the Minister for Works, 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.

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“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,” the Senate Spokesman said.