Babatunde Raji Fashola, Governor Wike and Wife, Justice Suzette

By Okafor Ofiebor

Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola on Saturday said Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has not yet received the N78 billion it spent on federal roads in the state from the Federal Government.

Fashola, who spoke at the commissioning of Rebisi Flyover in Rivers also clarified that the rumour that former Governor and Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi worked against the refund of monies due Rivers State for federal roads executed by the State Government was not true.

He said that Amaechi on the contrary, championed the fight for the refund due to the state.

“The Federal Government has paid over N725 billion to the 36 states of the federation as part of refund to the state government’s expenditures on federal roads in the states,” Fashola disclosed.

He disclosed that the approval for the refund was made in two tranches of N577 billion and N148 billion, saying that the refund was approved across all states and across party lines, saying that in the last tranche of N148 billion, Rivers State got a lion’s share of N78 billion.

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He said; “It (the refund) was the initiative of the Presidet Mohammadu Buhari that it was only fair and just to refund to states monies they have spent on Federal roads and it was done across party lines without discrimination.

“Let me also say now that Governor Wike has come out into the open about this, you may have had some stories that Rotimi Amaechi, my colleague in the Federal Executive Council was somehow not happy. Nothing can be farther than the truth, the champion for the refund among the ministers was Rotimi Amaechi himself.

“Let me say as I have said in all the 36 states of the federation that I have visited as a minister, the Federal Government is not in competition with any state, our responsibility and our mandate for Mr President is to support the developmental initiatives and aspirations of every state.

“Our elections happen only once in every four years, but our developmental challenges happen every day, so we have no choice who to serve, we serve the people of Nigeria,” he said.

On the allegation that there has not been any federal projects in Rivers, Fashola said the Bodo-Bonny road with works ongoing on milestone N120 Billion Bodo-Bonny Road and the Port Harcourt Aba Expressway, which has been jinxed for over 30 years, were being done  by the federal government.

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He commended Wike’s administration for completing the project four months ahead of schedule and lauded the administration’s “radical urban renewal.”

Shortly before cutting the tapes to declare the Rebisi Flyover open, Fashola said, “Having gone round to see some of the projects Wike is delivering, what I have witnessed is massive urban regeneration and renewal in Rivers.”

Wike in his remarks on the occasion urged the minister to appeal to President Buhari to approve even more refunds to Rivers based on continued massive upgrades of federal roads in the state, including the Rebisi Flyover, four others nearing completion.

Wike expressed gratitude to God for the grace to complete the project four months before the scheduled delivery date.

He also commended Julius Berger for not abandoning site in the heat of the Covid-19 pandemic but stayed on site to ensure timely delivery of the job.

He said that the other three, the Rumuogba, Okoronodu and GRA flyovers would be completed in December, 2020, January and March, 2021, respectively.

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Wike said; “it is on record, it has never happened where a state government can carry out four flyovers at the same time, we are not working with contractors of low repute, this is a company the whole world knows, that Julius Begger to deal with them, you must have their money available.

“I am so happy today that I made a promise to my people and I have fulfilled that promise. We are going to start the sixth flyover at this Kaduna junction, Julius Begger is carrying out the soil tests.

“Those who are criticizing that we are doing all these things in Port Harcourt, I have no apologies to anyone, if I had more money I would do more flyovers”, he stated.