BY ADEBIYI ADEDAPO,
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), on Friday apologised to members of the House of Representatives, over his disparaging cements against the House on the handling of the 2017 budgetary process.
This is just as he disclosed that the contractors working on the rehabilitation of Lagos – Ibadan express road has abandoned the project.
The minster said federal government would not continue with the rehabilitation of the popular Lagos – Ibadan express was, due to inadequate budgetary allocations.
He also said that the rehabilitation of the Abuja-Kaduna-Kano express road require about N24 billion, which according to his was not captured in the 2017 Budget.
Fashola who appeared before an ad-hoc committee of the House, set-up to investigate derogatory utterances credited to him, against the House over the handling of 2017 budget.
He claimed that his comments, the the lawmakers has ‘stack knowledge’ of budgeting process was misrepresented in the media.
He also said some of his comments were directed to the Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Abdulrasaq Namdas, and not the entire members of the House.
The minister who profusely apologised to the House of Representatives over the alleged comments denied any intention to disparage the House as an institution as well as its members.
The minister said, he could not have canvassed a position that the National Assembly or the House of Representatives has no right to tinker with the proposed budget.
“Nobody can take away the power of the legislature on budget,” he said.
According to the minister, the views the expressed in the media were mere matters of privilege, as he said both the executive and legislative arm of government are working for national development.
“We felt that since we appeared before the committees of the House and we made out position known, in our view, if there was going to be a amendment, we should be deserving of the privilege to be called back,” the minster said.
Speaking on the efforts of government to rehabilitate dilapidated federal highways, Fashola said the contractors on the Lagos – Ibadan express road had abandoned the project. He noted that government is owing the contractors N13billion from 2016, while just N10billion was earmarked for the project in the 2017 budget.
“Immediately the contractors saw appropriation for the road the contractors took a position and that have written a letter of notice of intention to suspend work,” he said.
According to him; “in the 2016 budget, N40billion was allotted to the Lagos – Ibadan express road, only N28 billion was released and know we are owing the contractors N13.1 billion. In the 2017 Budget, N31 billion was proposed, but it was reduced to N10 billion, it therefore suggests that no reasonable work can be done on that road,” he said.
Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Aliyu Madaki, before suspending the interactive session caution the minister to be courteous in his utterance, particularly against the parliament.
“I respect you so much because of your achievements as governor of Lagos state, by the virtue of your position and your age, you should be moderate in your utterances,” Madaki stated.