Ilorin- The Federal Government says passage of the 2016 Appropriation will help to fast track the rehabilitation of strategic roads across the geo-political zones of the country.
It added that once the budget was passed, the settlement of debts owed contractors for road projects across the country would commence in earnest.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, announced the intention of the government when he visited Kwara Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, in Ilorin on Monday evening.
Fashola, who had earlier passed through the Jebba-Ilorin road, decried the deplorable state of the road which resulted to unending traffic hold up that left many motorists stranded for days.
He noted that President Muhammadu Buhari had identified the Jebba – Ilorin road as one of the strategic roads that would be given urgent attention by his administration.
“It is a very strategic road which Mr President himself has identified as one of his strategic economic roads; and the identification is with a lot of merit.
“Even on our short journey here we saw cattle, we saw fuel, we saw yams, we saw grains, and we saw containers going to and fro.
“So, it tells anybody who cares to observe that this is a strategic economic artery for the movement of goods between the north and south of Nigeria.
“This is the road that farmers use to get their goods to the markets. It is the road that petroleum distributors use to get their cargo to this part of the country and so on. “
He commended the contractor for continuing work on some failed portions of the road, despite non-payment by the immediate past administration.
“When I assumed office, the entire budget for road works was N18 billion for the whole of Nigeria. And all of us are now seeing where the money went.
“So, it is understandable, that people like this contractor who were working to build roads were not paid.
“But all of that will change under this administration as soon as the new budget is passed.
“So, I am hopeful that the challenges and the discrepancies in the budget will be overcome by meeting of minds between parliament and the executive.
“There are no sides in this matter. We are different shades of the same government.
“So, it is imperative that we quickly get these issues behind us and get a budget in place, “ he added.
Fashola said that the federal government has also set up a committee to verify federal roads rehabilitated by state governments to ensure that the standard set were followed.
On housing, he said that the government was looking at formulating policies that would promote the use of locally produced materials for sustainable buildings to enhance job creation.
“We would use more locally made materials so that our people can get back to increased productivity, create jobs and then our job would have been done as a government of change, “ Fashola declared.
Responding, Gov. Abdulfatah Ahmed described Fashola’s appointment as an opportunity for him to bring his experience and achievements in Lagos to move the country forward.
“No doubt, what you did in Lagos have shown that we require people like you to move some of the most critical areas to drive Nigeria’s economy forward.
“We are all very clear that the issue of road and the issue of energy are very germane to our growth and development.
“So, somehow we have a lot of pressure on us but we are happy that you are coming at a very critical time to see how you can at least support some of the roads in the state, “ Ahmed said.
He added that the government had marked out lands in strategic areas of the state for the development of housing schemes and commercial zones.