There are indications that the Federal Government and states are heading for a fresh battle over the delay in refunding the money spent by the state governments on federal roads.
Various state governments in separate interviews with media expressed concern about the delay by the Federal Government in refunding the money.
Investigations showed that the Federal Government owed Sokoto State N16.8bn; Cross River State, N25bn; Ekiti State, N11bn; Anambra State, N15bn; and Gombe State, N6.34bn.
Recall that the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, (SAN), on September 24, said President Muhammadu Buhari had directed the state governments to stop rehabilitating federal roads.
According to the minister, the President gave the directive due to the huge amounts of money being claimed by the governors after repairing federal roads in their states.
Fashola, who said this when he appeared before the House of Representatives’ Ad Hoc Committee on Abandoned Federal Government’s Projects, stated, “The states submitted a bill of almost a trillion naira when President Buhari was elected. He asked us to work out what was their entitlements. Ultimately, the BPP (the Bureau of Public Procurement) certified about N44bn, I don’t remember the exact amount now.
“The decision to pay those inherited debts, including the ones I contracted as governor of Lagos State, was with the caveat that I should tell the governors to leave (the Federal Government’s) roads alone. Those were the directives; I was not the one that took the decision.”
Before this new directive, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Ben Ayade, Christian Ita, said the Federal Government owed Cross River State about N25bn for federal roads that were repaired by the state government.
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Ita, in an in interview with one of our correspondents in Calabar, said, “The Federal Government owes us over N25bn. On the Calabar-Itu Road, there have been several interventions, not just by this government, but right from former Governor Liyel Imoke’s time. The Federal Government has not paid for all those interventions. There were some interventions on the Calabar-Ikom Highway.
“There have been interventions along the Calabar-Akpabuyo Road. It is a federal road. Governor Ayade has also done some repairs from the Mobil Filling Station on the Murtala Mohammed Highway.
“The Odukpani Junction, about three years ago, was very bad. There was an intervention by the state. Three or four years ago, vehicles could not pass the Scanobo area to Calabar. The state government intervened along that stretch of the road as well.”
Ita also reacted to a comment by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, that state governments were responsible for most of the bad roads in the country.
He said, “The Calabar-Itu Road that everybody is crying about belongs to the Federal Government. I don’t know what they are talking about. I think rather than seeking to shift responsibility, they should accept responsibility and get down to work.”
FG owes Sokoto N16.8bn
Also, a top Sokoto State Government official, who spoke to one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity, said the Federal Government owed the state N16.8bn for federal roads repaired by the state government.
He said the projects included the 85km Sokoto-Illela Road and the expansion of the 18.5km Western and Eastern Bye-pass roads.
The official stated, “The Sokoto-Illela federal road rehabilitation cost N 2,627,919,798.77 and the Federal Government made a reimbursement of N1.4bn only leaving a balance of N1,227,919,789.72.
“The Sokoto State Government also constructed the Western and Eastern Bye-pass roads at the cost of N3,775,091,529.08 and the Federal Government has yet to refund us.
“As it stands, out of the N18,248,458,883.23 total contract sum on the Federal Government’s roads within Sokoto State, only a paltry N1.4bn has been paid by the Federal Government, leaving a balance of N16,848,458,883.20.”
Accept responsibility, you’ve not paid us N78bn, A Ibom tells FG
When contacted, the Akwa Ibom State Government denied that the Federal Government had refunded over N78bn to it being part of the money it spent on rehabilitating federal roads in the state.
The Senior Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Ita Enang, was reported to have said that the Federal Government had released the amount to the state government.
But in an interview with one of our correspondents, the state Commissioner for Works, Mr Ephraim Inyang-Yen, said the Federal Government had yet to refund the money the state government spent on the federal roads.
“We have disclosed what the Federal Government owes us. My friend, if you believe Ita Enang, you also have to believe him when he said the Calabar-Itu Road had been done.
“You can go and pass through the road and reconcile what you see with what Ita Enang told the Akwa Ibom and Cross River people. Let Ita Enang, justifiably tell us when the money was paid.”
You can’t sit in Abuja and determine Ekiti roads status – Commissioner
On its part, the Ekiti State Government, through the Commissioner for Roads, Transport and Infrastructure, Mr Sunday Adunmo, said the Federal Government’s debts to the state were incurred before the inauguration of the present administration in the state.
According to him, the Federal Government owes the state for the work done on the Ado-Ifaki Road, the Ado-Ikere Road and the Ojumose to Police Headquarters in Ado-Ekiti.
On the finance minister’s statement that most bad roads belong to state governments, Adunmo said the length of federal roads in the state was 290 kilometres.
He stated, “What we need is a holistic approach to everything. You can’t sit in Abuja and determine the status of the roads in Ekiti State. People know the federal roads in Ekiti.
“You know the federal roads that Governor Kayode Fayemi did in 2010. Even before then, you know the ones that Chief Segun Oni did before Dr Fayemi. You know the ones that ex-governor Ayodele Fayose did when he was there.
“See the ones that the present Fayemi administration is fixing now. Come to think of it, look at the Aramoko-Itawure-Efon Road, is it a state road? The Ado-Iluomoba-Omuo Road, is it a state road?
“The Ifaki-Ikole-Omuo Road, is it a state road? Ifaki-Ido Ekiti-Kwara border road, is it a state road? Does Ado-Ifaki Road belong to the state? Moreover, is the Ado-Akure Road a state road? What we need is collaboration,” Adunmo said.
But the state Commissioner for Information, Chief Muyiwa Olumilua, said, “What the Federal Government owes Ekiti State for federal roads repairs is nothing less than N11bn. It could be more.”
FG yet to pay our money – Ondo govt
Also, the Ondo State Government said the Federal Government had yet to refund all the money it had spent on the rehabilitation of federal roads across the state.
The state government said since the inception of the current administration of Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, it had spent billions of naira to rehabilitate the roads.
The state Commissioner for Works and Housing, Mr Saka Yusuf-Ogunleye, told one of our correspondents that in spite of the alleged refusal of the Federal Government to refund the money, the state government had been ensuring that all the state and federal roads were repaired.
He, however, failed to mention specifically the amount of money the state had expended on the rehabilitation of the federal roads.
Yusuf-Ogunleye said he did not have the record with him during the telephone interview.
Some of the federal roads the state has rehabilitated, according to the commissioner, are the Owo-Ikare Road, the Ondo-Ife Road, the Ondo-Akure Road, the Owo-Ipele Road and the flyover on the Ore-Sagamu Expressway.
He said, “All these federal roads we have worked on without receiving a dime from the Federal Government in the last two years of this administration. They (FG) said they were not refunding again, but that would not deter us from working on the roads because the average person does not know the difference between federal and state roads.”
A resident of Igoba community along the Akure-Ado-Ekiti Expressway, Chief Michael Adagba, said the federal roads in the state were clearly identified and could not be given to the state.
“The Akure-Ado Road, I know, is a federal road. It was constructed by the Federal Government, so we all know it is a federal road, nobody can tell us now that it belongs to the state government. Whether state or federal, they should come and repair the road for us, it is getting unbearable to ply,” he stated.
FG refunded N10bn out of N25bn it owes us – Anambra
Meanwhile, the Anambra State Government said the Federal Government had refunded N10bn out of the N25bn it spent on federal roads.
The PUNCH learnt that the state had earlier claimed N43.8bn on the work done on the federal roads in the state.
The state Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr C-Don Adinuba, said when a Senate committee handled the matter, it reduced the debt to about N38bn.
“But the Federal Executive Council after deliberating on it agreed to pay N25bn,” Adinuba stated.
He said out of the N25bn, N10bn had been refunded to the state while the remaining N15bn would be paid in December, 2020.
FG owes Gombe N6.34bn
In Gombe State, the Commissioner for Works, Abubakar Bappah, the Federal Government owed the N6.34bn for the construction of the Kanawa-Deba-Jagali-Talase Road, the Metropolitan section of the Gombe-Biu Road, and the Gombe-Bauchi Road.
Bappah appealed to the Federal Government to complete the payment to enable the state to undertake further construction of federal roads.
FG pays N1.8bn to Benue as money spent on federal roads
However, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State said the state government once received N1.8bn from the Federal Government as a refund for the money spent on federal roads in the state.
Ortom disclosed this to one of our correspondents in Gbajigbam, the headquarters of the Guma Local Government Area of the state.
When asked if the Federal Government had refunded the money spent on its roads, Ortom said, “There was a time we got N1.8bn out of the N2bn the state expended on the roads.”
The governor explained that most of the deplorable roads in the state belonged to the Federal Government, adding that despite the lean resources of the state, his administration was able to rehabilitate some of them.
FG owes Enugu State N29bn in road rehabilitation
Also, in Enugu State, it was learnt that the Federal Government owed the state government about N29bn spent on the rehabilitation of federal roads in the state.
The PUNCH reliably gathered that the state government had written to the Federal Government to refund the money to enable the state to fix more deplorable federal roads, but the efforts had not yielded results.
A source in the Ministry of Works told one of our correspondents that some of the funds were spent on the Opi-Ubolo-Afor Road; Agbani-Amagunze-Ishielu Road; Oji River-Awka Road; Eha Amufu-Nkalagu roads and the Emene-Airport Road.
But when contacted, both the state commissioners for Works and Information, Greg Nnaji and Chidi Aroh, respectively, declined to provide the required information.
Payments are made after verification – FG
However, the Federal Government said the seeming delay in the reimbursement of funds spent by states on federal roads was due to the verification being done by the federal agencies.
Responding to enquiries by The PUNCH, the Special Adviser to the Minister of Works and Housing, Hakeem Bello, stated that a committee had already been established to handle the matter.
Explaining the process, he said, “The Inter-Ministerial Presidential Committee was set up by Mr President. The committee did its work and then sent a report to the Bureau of Public Procurement.
“The BPP will then recommend what is supposed to be paid based on the documents and verification done. The BPP sends it back to the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing.
“The FMWH then sends it to the Federal Executive Council and after FEC approval, it goes to the National Assembly and from there it is the Federal Ministry of Finance that will then pay.”
On whether the government was verifying the claims by some of the states, Bello said the Federal Ministry of Finance had already paid some of the affected states.
He said, “The Ministry of Finance is in charge of payment, for example, if that of Kogi State has been paid, that means if you check the records, you will find out that some others may have got theirs too.
“Also, I think Lagos and Ogun states got some reimbursements recently. So, it is like it is being paid in batches or so.”
The special adviser stated that his principal had made it clear that going forward the Federal Government would not reimburse states that repaired federal roads.
The Senate had before the governorship election in Kogi State approved the President’s request for N10bn refund for Kogi State.
Buhari had on October 15 written to the Senate, seeking its approval for the money to be paid to the Kogi State Government.
The President in the letter, addressed to the Senate President, said the money would be used by the state government to settle debts it incurred as a result of the projects it executed on behalf of the Federal Government.