The minister of works, Dave Umahi, yesterday clarified that governors can rehabilitate federal roads in their states, following approval by the federal government.
Umahi made this disclosure while reacting to what he described as blackmail by Edo State governor Godwin Obaseki, who had complained about the poor state of federal roads in the South South state.
At the inauguration of Ven. Ebenezer Saiki as the second Bishop of Akoko-Edo Diocese held at St James Cathedral, Ugbogbo, Igarra, in Akoko Edo local government area, Obaseki alleged that despite many entreaties by his administration, the federal government has refused to allow him fix the dilapidated federal roads.
Also, the governor called on residents and other road users to plead with the federal government to allow the state to fix them.
However, Umahi cautioned Obaseki against politicising road rehabilitation, saying that election is over.
The minister said: “The ministry is willing to speedup approval for the state government to carry out rehabilitation of the bad potions.
“I will advise my brother and friend, Governor Godwin Obaseki, to stop playing politics with the lives of his citizens. He should stop trivializing the lives of his people on the altar of politics. Election has been won and lost.
“If he approaches me by whatever means to seek permission, even if he sends me requests by WhatsApp or whatever, I will give him approval within two hours so that he can start. But I am going to visit Edo State and I am going to look at those roads.”
Umahi added: “I saw where something was credited to him; I believe he didn’t say so. But if he said so, this is the answer: that was not the true position. The true position is that all governors, and when I was governor, we also intervened in federal roads. My position is that when the people are suffering due to bad roads, the people do not know which one is federal, which one is state, and which one is local government.
“He doesn’t need our permission as such to intervene, to give a better life to the people of Edo State and other Nigerians that are using the roads.
“I want him to approach the Ministry of Works and seek permission. I am going to visit Edo State, and I am going to look at those roads. Every road in this country becomes a priority and we are going to face the challenges within the limit of the scarce resources.
“My good brother Obaseki, I want you to send your request on WhatsApp to me and I will give you approval within two hours when I get it. But I want to know what you are building and I will advise you to use bitumen. I have seen some of those things in the pictures. If you use rigid pavements, and you can get the design within one hour from me, you will be very much safe.
“But we are also working in Edo State, from Lokoja to Benin, we are doing that. There are other jobs that are also ongoing on in Benin, Edo State, that I cannot tell you off head. But we are very committed in Edo State, and Mr. President is also very committed to every part of this country.”
He said the administration will prioritise maintenance of federal roads across the country.
Umahi stated that the federal government cannot prevent governors from road repairs, which can enhance the welfare of residents.
He spoke on the infrastructure battle of the Tinubu administration while inspecting ongoing road rehabilitations in Lagos.
He said the federal government will carry out resurfacing of the Third Mainland Bridge and pay more attention to concrete reinforcement of other roads in the country.
The minister expressed concern over the bad conditions of almost all critical bridges in Lagos, saying: “Almost all the bridges in Lagos are having problems, but we are going to look at them.”