president of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has said the Senate will investigate the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency over alleged non-remittance of N800 billion to the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) for the maintenance of roads across the country.
Lawan stated this in his concluding remarks on a bill for an Act to Repeal the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency Act, 2002 and to Establish the Federal Roads Authority Bill, 2019.
According to the Senate President, previous efforts by Nigeria to concession government enterprise failed as a result of systemic corruption. He, therefore, called for Public – Private – Partnership in the construction of roads across the country if government must meet up to its responsibility of providing good roads.
“Corruption is also responsible for some of the challenges we face in our road sector.
“We recall that the privatization of various enterprises was made right from 1986 till date, and in most cases the privatization or concessioning processes were flawed and of course, we suffer as a country.
“So, we just have to be very careful. We insist we go on the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) partnership, but we have to ensure that everything is done within the law as required, so that no one takes advantage of his position in government to shortchange the entire people of the country
“I believe that we need to demand what happened to over N800 billion that PPPRA was alleged to have collected.
“I think that we will take that as a separate issue because we need to verify and confirm, even for the sake of allowing PPPRA to defend itself, because this is not something that we can sweep under the carpet. N800 billion can do a lot of things for our country,” Lawan said.
Sponsor of the bill, Senator Gershom Bassey, in his lead debate, said that the 36,000km federal road network is by far the largest and most valuable single public infrastructure asset owned by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
According to the lawmaker, “there is nowhere in the world that this expanse of road network is managed solely by government.
“But unfortunately, over 80 percent of goods and services are transported by road leading to tremendous pressure on our roads since other modes of transportation like rail and shipping are underdeveloped and air transport is too expensive for most Nigerians.”