By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday heaped the delay in the completion of projects across the country on the door steps of the National, alleging that the lawmakers delay the passage of budgets sometimes to about seven months.
The President therefore said that more effort should be made to speed up the process.
Speaking while receiving a delegation of eminent and respected citizens of Niger State led by Lt. Gen. Garba Duba (rtd) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, President Buhari enthused that inspite of the delays, government has made remarkable achievements in ensuring better roads, rails, power and repositioning of the airports.
The President in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina prayed for more understanding and commitment to infrastructural development.
According to him, “If the National Assembly takes seven months to pass a budget, then we should be commended for the much that we have achieved, and can still achieve.
“I personally feel very disappointed. I spoke with the leaders of the National Assembly on the issue that seven months is a long time to work on a budget.”
The President said ongoing efforts to improve road, and rail networks across the country will be increased as infrastructural development remains paramount for improving the livelihood of Nigerians.
He told the delegation, which includes Governor Abubakar Sani Bello, immediate governor of the state, Babangida Aliyu, past military and traditional leaders, that his administration will pay more attention to the stretch of 2,150km federal roads in the state.
On security, the President said, “We cannot manage our communities and societies without security. A lot of resources are being diverted to provide security instead of going into infrastructural development.’’
The President re-assured the delegation that his administration will stay focused on securing lives and property, fighting corruption and stimulating the economy for more progress.
He said the Minister of Agriculture and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria have been directed to increase monetary supports, through loans, to farmers in the next farming season, and ensure that farmers are not overwhelmed with the traditional demand for collaterals.
“Traditional institutions and families can serve as guarantors because we cannot continue with that colonial style of asking for collaterals that people don’t have,’’ he added.
He commended the Chinese government for accepting to finance 85 per cent of Nigeria’s infrastructural development need.
He said, “I thank you so much for coming. It is a good morale booster for me and the country that a State will bring a strong delegation to show appreciation for our efforts.”
In his remarks, the leader of the delegation, Lt. Gen. Duba, who is a former military governor, commended the President for the significant stride in repositioning of roads, rails and airports across the country.
He said Niger State still faced challenges of security along Jebba-Mokwa-Birnin Gwari-Kaduna roads, urging the President to reinforce surveillance on the routes and also direct more attention on the construction of federal roads in the state.
The Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, who is also the Chairman of the Niger State Council of Traditional Rulers, commended the President for providing exemplary leadership for the country.
Speaking with State House correspondents at the end of the meeting, the former Governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu, said: “The President raised an important issue that I think Nigerians also need to look at it thoroughly and that is the delays witnessed in the budgetary process of the country.
“There is no need to have the budget after six or seven months in the year that such a budget will be well implemented. I believe that it’s a two-way traffic; both the executive and the legislature and even Nigerians must come to terms to agree on how this process would be improved upon.
“The Budgetary process, to me should not be more than a month or two, particularly if everybody participates actively in the process.
“The President told us that he has been talking to the National Assembly so that we can have that. If that happens we believe that once the budget is passed, there will be accelerated and provision of funds.”
Aliyu said the delegation appealed to the President to look into the plight of Niger state, especially on fixing of bad roads in the state.
“This is a non partisan delegation, to pay a courtesy call on the President and to thank him for what he has been doing and also to alert him on the problems we are facing in Niger state, particularly with regards to infrastructure.
“On roads, we have over 1250 kilometres of roads in Niger state that belong to the federal government and only about 10 percent are motorable now. For example, what used to be about 50 minutes or one hour, from Abuja to Minna is now between three and four hours and that is what we now face through all the inlets and outlets form Niger state.
“The major road from Ilorin-Mokwa-Birnin Gwari-Kaduna is now not motorable at all so drivers of trailers now come from Mokwa-Bida-Minna-Suleja and they block the road. That needs to be fixed. We also talked about the completion of the Baro port and the ongoing dredging that should be have been completed by now and other infrastructural development that we need in Niger state,” he said.
Also speaking, Niger State Governor, Sani thanked President Buhari for the honour done to a son of the state and late Chief Justice of Nigeria, Idris Kutigi, who was recently buried at the national cemetery among other fallen heroes, as approved by the President.