2022 Budget: Distribution of road projects tears senators apart

Nigeria senators

Senators on Friday clashed over zonal distribution of road projects between northern and southern Nigeria in the 2022 budget.

The Minister of Works and Housing, Fashola Babatunde Fashola, had appeared before the Senate Committee on Works to defend the 2022 budget proposal of N450 billion, out of which N350 billion was earmarked for the construction of roads across the country.

However, the trouble started when Senator George Sekibo raised an observation that 1,400 kilometer of roads were earmarked to be constructed in a single geopolitical zone in the North, while in the South-South only has 89.9 kilometers of road projects in the same budget proposal.

Sekibo said, “In a single geopolitical zone in the North, more than 1,400 kilometres of roads are awarded there whereas in the whole of the South-South region, we have 89.9 kilometers.”

But, the chairman of the committee, Adamu Aliero, responded that Senator Sekibo should be mindful of the cost of projects in each of the geopolitical zones.

He noted that if there was N600 billion as intervention fund, because of justice and equity, it would be shared N100 billion each and N100 billion could construct about 200 km of roads in the North East; but it cannot construct more than 30km of roads in the South.

Sekibo interjected and asked, “Chairman are you answering for him?”

Aliero, however, said that he was not speaking for the minister, but it is common knowledge that the cost of roads in the South is quite different from that of the North.

Another member of the committee, Senator Danladi Sankara, stated that northerners were also complaining about roads construction in the zones, and commended the Minister of Works for doing his best in the construction of roads.

Senator Sekibo interjected again, saying “Distinguished colleagues, I asked a question and I expect that you will allow the minister to answer. Please, if you don’t want me to be part of the meeting, I will get up and walk out.”

Responding to the issue raised in his capacity as the chairman of the committee, Senator Ailero said, “The chairmen of both the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Works are working seriously with the leadership of the National Assembly to see what could be done in the road sector.

“It is a very important sector which cannot be ignored.”

Reacting to the issue raised by Senator Sekibo, the minister said, “Rather than sectionalising or regionalising projects, we should see them as national projects because you are national officers as senators.

“I think you should begin to talk more about the integration of our country. I don’t know what answers Senator Sekibo wants, but you can go away with this; your people will see that you have made a very compelling case for them.”

Despite the explanation of the chairman and other senators, Sekibo was not satisfied and decided to walk out of the meeting.

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