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Senate, minister disagree on road construction budgets

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Senate has disagreed with the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola over a statement credited to him that the National Assembly should be held responsible for the dilapidated state of federal roads in Benue State.

Fashola was reported to have made the allegation in Abuja while receiving retired Generals and other leaders of thought from Benue South Senatorial District led by Air Vice Marshal Morgan Monday, who came to complain about the deplorable state of roads in the senatorial district.

But the upper legislative chamber declared that the National Assembly can not and should not be held responsible for the dilapidated state of roads whether in Benue State or any part of the country, describing the minister’s claim as a “fallacy of the highest order”.

Speaking through its spokesman, Senator Ajibola Basiru (APC Odun Central), the Senate said that though it would not want to engage in any unnecessary altercation with the minister, it however, stated that it has to speak up because the issue of roads infrastructure is important and controversial in the country.

According to the chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, it has become necessary to put all the records straight so as to disabuse the minds of the unsuspecting public about the acts of the National Assembly.

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

In putting the records straight, the Senate gave the figures of the 2020 proposal for capital expenditure as N265, 868, 037, 093 by the Executive which the National Assembly passed.

“The Executive later brought revised allocation of 256, 734,983,667 billion Naira which we also appropriated. As we talk, even in the budget proposal for 2021, the Executive proposed a capital expenditure of 363, 266, 425, 976 billion Naira,” he stressed.

The Senate then wondered where the minister got his figure of N600 billion which he said was the figure proposed to the National Assembly by his ministry, but which was allegedly not supported or approved by the legislature.

It therefore invites Nigerians and specifically the minister’s guests from Benue South Senatorial District to note that “figures do not lie.”

The Senate, however, listed three road constructions which are ongoing in the Benue South to be Oju-Adum Okuku road at N 91,180 000, Oturko township road at N357 200, 000 and Oju/ Loko – Oweto bridge at a cost of N357, 200, 000.

On the minister’s allusion and or allegation to prioritising constituency projects over other projects, the upper legislative chamber affirmed that the minister was merely calling a pity party and being sentimental, adding that the statement was made to set the National Assembly on collision course with the people they are democratically representing.

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

The Senate, however, clarified that the execution of the much talked about constituency projects lie within the Executive arm of government through its various ministries, agencies and parastatals.

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