*As Senate lampoons minister’s claim on budgetary allocations to road construction
*Says figures don’t lie
By Henry Umoru
ABUJA- THE Senate has taken a swipe at the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola(SAN) on his position on dilapidated federal government roads, saying that the minister should not set the National Assembly on a collision course with the people who elected them.
According to the Senate, it took an exception to the statement credited to the Minister of Works that the National Assembly should be held responsible for the dilapidated state of federal roads in Benue State.
The Senate described the statement as a “fallacy of the highest order”.
Fashola was said to have made the allegation in his office in Abuja during a courtesy call by 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.
In a statement, on Sunday, by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Ajibola Basiru(APC Osun Central), said that the National Assembly cannot and should not be held responsible for the dilapidated state of roads whether in Benue State or any part of the country.
Specifically, on the minister’s allusion and/or allegation to prioritising constituency projects over other projects, the Senate noted that Fashola was merely calling a pity party and being sentimental.
He added: “It should be emphasised, 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 upper chamber said that execution of the much-talked-about constituency projects lie within the Executive Arm of government through its various ministries, agencies and parastatals.
According to the Senate spokesperson, Nigerians and specifically the ministers’ guests from Benue State South Senatorial District should note that “figures do not lie”.
The Senate, which said although it would not want to engage in any unnecessary altercation with the minister, however, stated that it had to speak up because the issue of roads infrastructure is important and controversial.
He noted that it was necessary to put the records straight in order to disabuse the minds of the unsuspecting public about the acts of the National Assembly.
Senator Basiru said: “The records are needed to be set right so that the two arms of government should not be seen as working at cross purposes in the course of delivering dividends and good governance to electorate.”
The Chairman, Media and Public Affairs Committee who noted that the records must be put straight and while giving the figures of the 2020 proposal for capital expenditure as N265,868,037,093 by the Executive, which the National Assembly passed, said that the Executive later brought a revised allocation of N256,734,983,667, which we also appropriated.
He said: “As we speak, even in the budget proposal for 2021, the Executive proposed a capital expenditure of N363,266,425,976.
“The Senate then wondered where the Minister got his figure of N600 billion, which he said was the figure proposed by his ministry and which was allegedly not supported or approved by the National Assembly.
“The Senate listed three road constructions which are ongoing in the Benue South to be Oju-Adum Okuku Road at N91,180,000; Oturko Township Road, N357,200,000, and Oju/ Loko-Oweto Bridge, at N357,200,000.