By CLIFFORD NDUJIHE
SPEAKER of the House of Representatives, Mr. Aminu Tambuwal, has assured that lawmakers would ensure adequate funds for the fixing of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway in the 2014 budget.
He also promised to liaise with other Federal lawmakers to find solutions to the deteriorating Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, the gateway to the nation’s major seaports that had become an eyesore with recurring traffic snarl in recent times.
Tambuwal, who also assured that the legislators would pass the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, in the interest of the country, spoke yesterday after delivering the quarterly business lecture of the Island Club, at Onikan, Lagos.
Asked what the lawmakers were doing to ensure that the Lagos-Ibadan Highway was not jinxed, he said: “The Federal Government had some issues with Bi-Courtney.
“When the administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo gave the contract for the repairing of the road to Bi-Courtney, it was done in good faith believing that an indigenous company from South-West will know the importance of the road.
“But Bi-Courtney ran into problems. Now the issues have been resolved and the Federal Government has awarded the contract to Julius Berger.
“The National Assembly will support adequate funding for that project once we receive the 2014 budget.”
On the PIB, he said the bill had successfully gone through second reading contrary to fears in various quarters.
He said: “We have set up a committee to conduct a hearing and they have finished zonal hearings and by July, they will finish the hearing in Abuja and submit their report.
“We hope to pass the bill in the interest of the country.”
Told that Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Dr Goodluck Jonathan, at various times, delivered the Island Club lecture and later became presidents, Tambuwal said: “The future is very bright for Nigeria.
“I hope the country will witness true development in 2015 that will usher in a formidable team that will turn around the fortunes of Nigeria.”
Earlier in his lecture, entitled The Legislature and the Growth of Our Democracy, the Speaker anchored the deepening of democracy in the country on strengthening of the legislature.
Noting that military governments also implemented good projects, he said dividends of democracy should be seen as the promotion, protection and guaranteeing of personal freedoms and liberties.
He said: “There is no way that democracy can thrive unless the three arms of government respect their constitutionally-assigned roles and cooperate for the benefit of our country.
“As members of the House of Representatives, we shall continue to work towards the sustenance of our hard-earned democracy for the benefit of our people.
“More than anything else, democracy demands two things: sovereignty of the people and equality before the law.
“The people cannot be said to be sovereign unless their interests become the foremost reason for governance.
“And this cannot happen unless the arm of government, which represents them, exercises the latitude to do its work without threat or blackmail.
“We have just celebrated 14 years of uninterrupted democracy, but the hangover of decades of military rule continue to slow our progress.”
We practice a presidential system of government in which the centre is erroneously presumed to be as powerful as in a unitary state and the executive appropriates humongous influence without boundaries. As I have noted elsewhere, we need strong institutions not strong men. The place of strong men is in autocracies not democracies. Nation States and systems can not adjust to inadequacies of strong men; it is strong men that must adjust to systems established by the people for the common good.”