Amidst outcry, FEC okays N621bn NNPC fund to fix 21 roads, Niger tops with 9 projects




The Federal Executive Council (FEC) Wednesday approved the takeover of the reconstruction of 21 federal roads across the six geopolitical zones of the country by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) at the cost of N621billion.

The decision is coming at a time there is continued outcry by citizens over the state of Nigerian roads.  

Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo(SAN), Minister of Works and Housing Babatunde Fashola (SAN) said the approval was in line with Executive Order No. 007 of 2019 cited as the Companies Income Tax (Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme) Order, 2019.

The minister said the strategic intervention under the Federal Government Road Infrastructure and Refreshment Tax Credit Scheme in respect of 21 roads covers 1,804.6 kilometers.

He said the Executive Order 7 allows the private sector to deploy taxes in advance if they would pay for infrastructure development.

Major resolutions  

The minister also said nine of the selected projects were in North-central, three in North-east, two in North-west, two in South-east, three in South-south, and two in South-west.

Fashola said he presented three memoranda to the Council, all of which were approved, stressing that the first memorandum had to do with a section of Calabar-Ikom-Ogoja road, especially the section to Apet Central.   

“Those drains were put there, about 42 years ago and 86 of them have failed and we need to replace them now with concrete rain drains to allow water pass through, otherwise the retention of water will badly impact the road.  

“As a result of that, we have to revise the scope of works from rehabilitation to construction in order to remove all the old steel drains that are corroded and replace them with concrete drains. 

“It is over 75 kilometers road and that will require an augmentation contract by an additional sum of N12 billion.  So that memo was approved,” he said.

On NNPC  

Fashola also said: “The second memorandum relates to the road infrastructure tax credit scheme. You recall the Executive Order seven signed by Mr. President allowing private sector operators to identify infrastructure such as roads for which you deploy your taxes in advance with tax and pay. 

“So you recall that I had briefed you here about the use of that policy like the Dangote Group from Obajana to Kabba, Apapa to Oworoshoki.  

“Earlier this year, there were five other roads, the Kaduna Western bypass, the Lekki Port road, the road from Shagamu through Papalanto and couple of others and there is one road in Maiduguri. That was approved about N320 something billion. 

“So today, we have another player. We have all the interested players who are still showing interest but we haven’t concluded. We have another player who has shown interest and committed to deploy taxes.

“It’s the government corporation known as NNPC. So NNPC has identified 21 roads that it wants to deploy. So, now, the instructive thing about this is that this initiative helps government to achieve many things, including Ministerial Mandates Three and Four, which we discussed at the last retreat, if you recall, was energy sufficiency, electric power and petroleum energy distribution across the country. 

“Of course, petroleum energy distribution is being impacted positively and negatively, as the case may be the transport infrastructure, which is the ministerial mandate four. 

“So, NNPC has sought and council has approved today that NNPC deployed tax resources to 21 roads covering the total distance of 1,804.6 kilometers across the six geopolitical zones. 

“Out of those 21 roads, nine are in North-central, particularly Niger state. And the reason is that Niger State is a major storage centre for NNPC. So the reason NNPC is doing this is to facilitate the total distribution across the country.

“We have seen and have heard every year Niger State gridlock, the governor complaining that his roads are being damaged by trucks, by those who overload the trucks after damaging the roads themselves now protest the damage that they sometimes have induced. Anyway, this is the final to that problem. 

“So there are nine like that in north central, there are three in the Northeast. Two in the northwest, two in the southeast, three roads, the entire Odupani – Itu – Ikot Ekpene road in LOT 1, 2 and 3 now fully covered. 

“Then in the South-west, you have the Lagos-Badagry expressway, the entire junction and you also have the Ibadan to Ilorin in Oyo-Ogbumosho section. So that’s it. 

“In the South-east, you have Aba-Ikot Ekpene in Abia and Akwa Ibom states. So that’s a major link, then you have Umuahia to Ikwuano to Ikot Ekpene road and so on and so forth. In the North-west, it is Gada-Zaima-Zuru-Gamji road, and also Zaria-Funtau -Gusau-Sokoto road. 

“In the northeast, it is Cham-, Bali Serti and Gombe-Biu road. The roads impacted in north central include Ilorin -Jebba-Mokwa-Bokani sections I and II, Suleja-Minna  sections I and II, Bida-Lambatta, and then Agaie-Katcha-Baro road.  Then Mokwa-Makera-Tegina-Kaduna all in Niger State. 

“So, as I said, it is a total of 21 roads. What will happen as a result of this is that there will be no financing problems with regarding the execution of these roads anymore. So, some of these roads that I have  mentioned, let me tell you, what has changed. For example, Aba-Ikot Ekpene road has an estimate of about N30.33,399 billion to complete it.

“The provision in the budget this year is only N200 million. If you look at Suleja-Minna road section II,  it has N25.763 billion to complete it. The provision in the budget this year is  just N100 million. So, with this intervention, all those roads now will be fully funded, we won’t have  budgetary challenges and financing challenges. So, council approved this as a strategic funding of these roads.”

Payment mode

The minister explained that the payment for total sum of the 21 road contracts was not a one off payment. 

“The whole package is N621, 237,143,897.75 billion. Let’s be clear, it will be spread over periodic tax for about three years. On timeframe of completion, the completion time already exists. They have scheduled completion times. What has hobbled and hampered them is that the annual budgetary provisions have not been enough. So, what it does now is that government can save, like the Lagos-Ibadan, 2nd Niger bridge arrangement and all of those types of roads,” he said.

On whether government would still go ahead to release the funds budgeted for the roads to be fixed by NNPC, he said: “What you see here is that, I mentioned some cases, like for the Oku Iboku power plant  section, it has N79 billion to finish, there was no provision at all in the 2021 budget. In the places where there’s provision maybe N100 million, we are more than halfway to the budget we started implementing. So, it probably has been paid and where it has not been paid, the certificate is pending, we will pay and from then on, we will move to the new financing structuring just as we transited the second Niger Bridge, the Lagos-Ibadan expressway from the old budgetary arrangement  to the new arrangement, we will transit this too. So those are administrative things and we will be meeting all the contractors to review all the agreements and all the performance and then we will take it from there.”

Power sector  

In his briefing,  Minister of Power Abubakar D. Aliyu said the council approved award of contract for the design, manufacture, supply and construction of 55 Kilometer Agu Akwa Umuchu 132 KVA double circuit transmission line and substation having two transformers at Umuchu Umuchu with two by 132 KV line bay extension at Agu Akwa for Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN). 

He said the project is between Anambra and Enugu states and was awarded in favour of Messrs Cartlark International Limited and has dollar and naira components.

“The naira component is N4, 044,309,380.69 inclusive of 7.5% VAT and 7.5% contingency payable to the Central Bank of Nigeria at the prevailing exchange rate with the completion period of 34 months.  This is part of the expansion and modernization of the TCN transmission grid and council has approved that. 

“The second one was approval for award of contract for a procurement and supply of two “Fail Safe” 60 MVA, 132 /33KV transformers for transmission Company of Nigeria. They are protecting themselves against fire outbreak. 

“They are made in a way that once there is any fire outbreak it will not affect the transformers. So, these are modern equipments that are being procured to replace the old one, this is also part of the modernization of the equipment on the transmission lines. 

“So, the total control sum is N1, 018,432,930.68 made up of €1,904,237.50 (offshore component) plus N155, 875,000 (onshore component) inclusive of 7.5% VAT, with delivery period of nine months. This was also approved by council.  

“The third one is approval for variation of an ongoing contract for the construction of two by MVA 330 132/33 KV two by 60 MVA 132/33 KV substations, these are all transformers. And four by 330 KV line bay extension at Akure, and four by 330 KV line bay extension each Ochigbo and Benin north  was awarded by the ministerial tender  board MTV commercials to Messers Metelak SAL Engineering and constructing limited, on 27 September 2011, in the sum of $19,025,535.45 plus N1,068,728,996 inclusive of 5% VAT as at that time. So, it became obvious and necessary to seek for this variation,” he said. 

The minister further said: “So, the contractor requested and the necessary checks were done and the contract is now being increased by this memo to the council. 

“This approval seeks to increase the contract amount from the amount stated. The offshore components still remain; the onshore is now increased to N1, 460,398,661.75. This is with inclusive of 7.5% VAT and the council graciously approved this. So, there is an increase of the sum of N377, 669,675.75.

“But this is not a one off payment. So, let’s be clear, it will be spread over periodic tax of about three years. On time frame of completion, the completion time already exists. They have scheduled completion times.”  

Traders lament Abuja/Lagos

Meanwhile, traders moving their goods from Lagos to Abuja and other northern parts of the country have described the Lagos-Abuja road as terrible, lamenting that the route is affecting the movement of their goods.

A cross section of traders, who spoke with Blueprint, said as a result of the deplorable nature of the roads, they were unable to secure trucks that would move their goods to the northern parts of the country despite the high price.

A trader, who preferred anonymity, called on the federal government to salvage the situation, disclosing that truck drivers were using the deplorable condition of the road as an excuse not to come to Abuja..

“Lagos-Abuja Road is terrible, help us tell the government, we’re now finding it difficult to get trucks to Abuja. Since yesterday, I’ve been unable to secure a truck despite the high price; they claim that roads to the North are spoiling their trucks”, the concerned trader lamented.

Another trader, who simply identified herself asHajiya, lamented that she had been denied access to move her goods to Abuja due to the deplorable condition several times, alleging that some truck drivers used the situation to increase their fare unjustly.

She, however, called on the government to intervene on the route to save her means of livelihood.

Blueprint had earlier reported that some sections of the Nigerian roads were not in good condition. One of our correspondents who recently embarked on a tour of Lagos state from Abuja, observed the poor state of that axis of the roads.  

It was gathered that some sections of  Okene/Kabba roads are not in good condition, while Akure-Owo expressway, Akure-Ado Ekiti and Ilesha-Ibadan axis of the road were also in deplorable conditions.

NLC unhappy

Also, the Ogun state chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has expressed its disappointment at Minister  Fashola over what they called unfulfilled promises on the collapsed portion of Sango road.

Speaking at a protest held Wednesday, the state chairman of the labour union, Comrade Emmanuel Bankole described the minister an enemy of the state, saying “we don’t want to see him, he lied to us, he fooled us.”

The NLC had October 6 stormed the Sango portion of the Lagos-Abeokuta highway, with a threat to shut down the state if nothing was done within 21 days.

At the expiration of the 21- day ultimatum, Ogun workers and residents gathered at Sango again for a protest, carrying placards with various inscriptions such as , “Enough of bad governance”, “Dapo Abiodun, let us enjoy the dividends of democracy in Ogun”, “Dapo, this suffering is too much”, “Hear our cries, Ogun people are suffering”, “Dapo repair our roads, it is our right,” amongst others.

The NLC chairman said: “21 days ago, we were here. We gave ultimatum to the government that we are not pleased with the state of the roads, particularly the minister coming here to promise that palliative works will commence immediately and several weeks after, nothing was done. That was why the 21- day ultimatum was given. 

“Interestingly, few days ago, they started some works. We can see some loads of granites by the state government. But this is not what we asked for. The minister was here and he promised to commence immediate palliative, that is yet to happen.”

 Imo residents lament

In a related development, the current state of roads in Imo state has become a serious concern to Imo residents, especially now that it rains heavily almost on a daily basis.

Some residents who spoke to Blueprint said there is hardly any road in the state that i motorable, thus putting their vehicles in a state of disrepair.

One of our respondents, Oparaji from Umuguma in Owerri West local government area, said their youth had to protest over the deplorable state of the World Bank/Umuguma Road Wednesday.

This, he said, was because whenever it rained, the road would turn into a river and would become impassable, thereby putting residents or pedestrians  in a state of jeopardy.

Another resident living at World Bank Housing Estate, Obichere, was dismayed that the World Bank Road reconstructed by Senator Hope Uzodimma some months ago and which the commissioner of works, Mr Ralph Nwosu, described as solid like the Port Harcourt Road, had started wearing off.  

” We are now confused because we do not know whether the former governor, Rochas Okorocha is better than Uzodimma in terms of road construction. They have all disappointed our people because they don’t have what it takes to deliver the desired dividends of democracy to the people. When Uzodimma came on board, he criticised Okorocha’s wasteful spending and deplorable roads which he inherited from him and assured that he would rectify things. But now, the reverse is the case as they are now on the same boat,” the resident said.

Other roads that have become a source of worry are the Nekede/Ihiagwa road which leads to Federal Polytechnic Nekede and Federal University of Technology (FUTO), MCC/Uratta Road, Works Layout and so many others in town.