From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) presided by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday has approved about N89.6 billion worth of contracts for award under the ministries of Works and Housing and Aviation.
It also approved the draft national policy on internally displaced persons in Nigeria.
Minister of Works and Housing Babatunde Fashola, briefing State House Correspondents alongside his Humanitarian Affairs Disaster Management, Social Development counterpart, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouk, and Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, specified that FEC approved for his ministry contract for the dualisation of the Odukpani-Itu-Ikot Ekpene road at the cost of N79.649 billion.
He explained that the approved contract is in relation to the section from Oku Iboku Power Plant to Abak of about 26-kilometre stretch.
‘The Ministry of Works and Housing presented the memorandum for the completion of the dualisation of the Odukpani-Itu-Ikot Ekpene road. And this is in relation to the section from Oku Iboku Power Plant to Abak of about 26-kilometre stretch,’ the minister stated.
‘Council approved the award to Messers Sematech Nigeria Ltd for N79.649 billion to be executed over 16 months.
‘So, this will help complete the dualisation gaps between the one awarded to Julius Berger and the section awarded to CCECC. When this is done, motorists in that area will now have an option of the dual carriageway instead of the existing single carriageway.
‘And this is in recognition of the heavy cargo that passes through that area from the South-South through to the North Central, Benue through Katsina-Ala through to the South East to Abia. It’s a very, very important trade link for the country.’
Part of the road project had in 2020 been awarded at the close of N54 billion.
Giving an update on the 2020 contract award for the same project, Fashola blamed the paucity of funds for the slow pace of implement the project.
‘Okay, first of all, it’s important for us to have a common understanding of the area, that is the rain forest area of Nigeria, mangrove areas, very high water table and rains in seven, eight months of the year.
‘So, when we awarded the first section, from Odukpani-Itu to Julius Berger in 2016, they could not move to the site because of the limited budgetary requisitions.
‘So, that slowed down work in that area and they didn’t move to site until 2018. And the second section, which was from Abak to Ikot Ekpene was awarded last year in February 2020. We have had to mobilise some Suku resources to the area.
‘Sometime last year, you might recall that I was there visiting with the governor, I actually went twice and we focused first on the link road from Alese-Ugep area because that was a very big bad one, that one use to take like, three, four days to traverse a 70-kilometre road.
‘Now, we have that under control, resolved, motorable in the first phase to Odukpani. That has reduced the journey time there to less than two hours, from days. So, again, it’s a work in progress.
‘We’re still challenged by resources. What we can mobilise there when you look at the contract amounts is about N54 billion, as you rightly pointed out, we have about N4 billion, N5 billion in the Suku. And if you look at this year’s budget for the whole area, the amount approved by parliament was N100 million.
‘So, again, we’re hoping that we can fund this one because we’ve proposed it for this year’s Suku. So, these are the challenges that we face.
‘We mobilised the contractors. Now is to keep them resourced and financed so that they can do the work, especially during the forthcoming dry season.
‘So, when you see the Minister of Finance, talking about the deficit that needs to be financed by borrowing, this is what is largely deployed to. But it’s just not enough because almost all of what was left undone for about two decades, we’ve inherited it, and we ask for the job and we commit to doing it.’
Fashola blamed the collapse of a section of the Lokoja-Kabba road on natural causes, saying: ‘As we go through the rainy season, this is the context in which to locate the Lokoja-Kabba. It’s a failure caused by nature and ageing. And, again, an opportunity to share with you what we have. We expect that these things will happen, but we don’t know where it will happen every time.’
While noting that his ministry was often unable to respond to such failures, the minister called for the setting up of a contingency maintenance fund, which he said should have a sizable amount.
‘So, we’ve been proposing that Nigeria should have an emergency provision in the works budget, but we haven’t been successful enough. There must be a contingency, a sizable sum, because when we see failures, last year, we had a problem like that in Kebbi, where roads were washed away. We couldn’t respond because we didn’t have the resources. But we will lean on FERMA,’ Fashola added.
‘Back in Lagos when I was governor, I think we used to provide about five 5% of our capital expenditure as a contingency fund for emergencies. Something between three and 5% varies across the world.’
Adesina, who briefed correspondents on behalf of the minister, remarked that the Ministry of Aviation brought the memo for the approval of the award of contracts for the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos; Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja; Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano; and Katsina Airport in Katsina.
He said for Lagos it was for the expansion of the terminal building at domestic terminal GAT for the sum of N2,817,579,271.99. For the Katsina Airport, its expansion of Katsina Airport Apron was awarded at N527,353,693.12.
According to him, there was also the expansion of Lagos Cargo Apron Area awarded at N1,982,943,242.81, expansion of Abuja Domestic Apron Area at N795,976,947.94 and, expansion of Kano Apron Area at N1,059,120,234.37. So those are contracts awarded in the Aviation sector.
Farouk on her part said the council approved a memo for the approval of the draft national policy on internally displaced persons in Nigeria.
‘And I must say that today is a great day for the ministry as well as for the government. This administration has reached another milestone for the purpose of these internally displaced persons,’ the minister stated.
‘The national policy on internal displacements provides a platform for all relevant actors in humanitarian and development space to key in and contribute towards a common goal. And the overall goal of the policy is to strengthen institutional mechanisms and frameworks for the realisation of rights, dignity and wellbeing of vulnerable populations through mitigation of impact and achievement of durable solutions to internal displacement in Nigeria.
‘And with the approval of this policy today, a multi-sectoral structure will fully emerge, which will ensure a coordinated operational and strategic response to all the humanitarian challenges our nation is facing, providing practical and actionable solutions that will resolve internal displacement in the country.’