Fashola faults Reps over moves to fund FERMA from consolidated revenue fund
Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, yesterday faulted on-going moves to set aside one per cent of the consolidated revenue fund to the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) to repair roads in the country.
At a hearing on a bill aimed at increasing funds at the disposal of FERMA, he remarked that there was no need for such measure since monies required by FERMA could be budgeted for and appropriated by the National Assembly. Fashola contended that the move remains unconstitutional since the measure could provide the basis for the 36 states of the federation to access monies required by the Federal Government to fix its own roads as stipulated in the exclusive legislative list of the constitution.
The minister also opposed moves to vest the power to oversee the administration of the toll gates on FERMA saying that the idea contradicts the provision of the extant federal highway Act which falls under his sphere of influence. The minister also said it was needless establishing FERMA at the states level since it contradicts the provision of the Constitution.
An official of the federal ministry of finance, Mr. Mediayedu Stephen who spoke in the same vein said there was no need duplicating a similar structure as FERMA at the state level since it would further increase the cost of governance which is antithetical to the policy direction of the Federal Government.
Sponsor of one of the bills, Mr Ibrahim Isiaka (Ogun APC) justified the need to fund FERMA as a first line charge saying it was based on realization that it was not well funded under the envelope budgeting system. He also argued that there was the need to enact a law to compel the 36 states of the federation to establish their own tiers of FERMA as is the case with Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB).
Fashola, who also appeared before the House Committee on Works chaired by Mr. Toby Okechukwu probing into the nature of the contract and/or concession arrangement on the Second Niger Bridge and the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway noted that adequate funding by the Federal Government remained the most viable option to complete the two projects.
Arguing that the projects, which could not be left to the strenuous processes involved in negotiating a Public Private Partnership arrangement as a funding alternative, he canvassed the support and understanding of the National Assembly to ensure appropriation of monies required to complete the projects.
The minister warned that the delay in the completion of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway could begin to impact negatively on the economy in coming years.The minister explained that the PPP arrangement he met when he assumed duties in 2015 was not yielding desired result since it was crowded by litigation.
Underlying the need for government to fund the projects, Fashola explained that developers in Nigeria did not have the financial capacities to support major projects like the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and the Second Niger Bridge under the PPP arrangement.The minister explained that this explained the reason N31 billion was allocated in the 2017 budget to speed up work on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway Notwithstanding the fact that it was slashed to N10 billion.