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Senate, Fashola disagree over dilapidated highways

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[FILES] Fashola Inspects Ongoing Repairs and Restoration Works on Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos State. Photo; TWITTER/FMWHNIG

The Senate, yesterday, faulted remarks credited to Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, wherein he was said to have blamed the National Assembly for the deplorable state of federal roads in the country.

Reacting to the statement reportedly made during a courtesy visit last Monday by leaders of thought from Benue South led by Air Vice Marshal Morgan Monday (rtd) in Abuja, chairman of the upper legislative chamber’s Committee on Media, Ajibola Basiru, described the comments as “fallacy of the highest order.”

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The visitors had called to register their annoyance with the poor highways in the North Central state.

The minister, who had implored the delegation to lobby their representatives in the National Assembly for favourable allocations to offset bills of contractors, was misconstrued to have accused the Red Chamber of slashing votes for capital projects, especially the ones for highways.

But the Senate spokesman clarified that the execution of constituency projects fall within the purview of the executive arm of government through its various ministries, agencies, and departments (MDAs).

He observed that anything concerning infrastructure was important and controversial.

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He said: “It is necessary to put all the records straight, so as to disabuse the minds of the unsuspecting public about the acts of the National Assembly.”

Basiru added: “The records are needed to be set right so that the two arms of government should not be seen as working at cross purposes in the course of delivering dividends and good governance to the electorate.”

He said the Senate received a 2020 capital expenditure of N265, 868 037,093 from the executive which it passed, adding that the Federal Government later brought a revised allocation of N256,734,983,667, which is also appropriated.

The spokesman continued: “As we talk, even in the budget proposal for 2021, the executive proposed a capital expenditure of 363, 266, 425, 976.”

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Basiru queried the N600 billion figure purportedly bandied by Fashola as the ministry’s proposed budget that was supposedly turned down by the federal legislature.

Stating that “figures do not lie”, the Senate listed three ongoing projects in Benue South to include Oju-Adum Okuku road at N 91,180 000, Oturkpo township highway awarded for N357, 200, 000 and Oju/Loko-Oweto bridge put at N357, 200, 000.

On the minister’s allusion to prioritisation of constituency projects over others, Basiru said Fashola was merely “calling a pity party and being sentimental,” insisting that the statement was “made to set the National Assembly on a collision course with the people we are democratically representing.”

“It should be emphasized therefore that never have allocations specifically meant for other projects ever been diverted to constituency projects, as constituency projects are having allocations in the budget,” he stated.

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