The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, on Monday reviewed his performance after three years of managing affairs of three ministries and submitted that his team has delivered visible results and recorded progress. FESTUS OKOROMADU writes on the minister’s scorecard across different sectors including housing, road construction and electricity provision.
Nigeria’s Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, on Monday November, 12, 2018 celebrated his third year of assumption of office in style with a media briefing to showcase the activities and achievements of his ministry in the last three years.
In his address titled: ‘Third Year Progress Report’, the minister recalled his first briefing on December 8, 2015 tagged: “Setting the Agenda for Delivering Change” in which he stated what he inherited, what he planned to do, and what Nigerians should expect.
He then declared that with careful thinking, planning, and a dedicated team of public officers, the ministry now has a firm foothold on its way to the top.
Assessing the teams performance under him, the minister submitted the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has delivered visible results and recorded qualitative progress.
According to him , there was no state in Nigeria today where the federal government was not executing one project or the other.
The minister was however quick to place a demand on Nigerians to ensure that the present government accomplished the ongoing projects.
“Our policies have shown what is possible with critical sectors recording growth. What remains is time that it takes for the full harvest of the fruits of our policies in plenitude and prosperity of our people,”he said.
Reviewing his team’s performance in the power sector, Fashola stated that the nation’s power generation which was at 4,000megawatts (MW) when he took over in the ministry in 2015 , has increased to 7,000 MW. Similarly, transmission has risen from 5,000 MW in 2015 to 7,000 MW, while distribution has increased from 2,690 MW to 5,222 MW, adding that although the work was clearly not finished, the ministry was still in the process of delivering additional power to the grid.
According to him, the additional 215MW would come from the Kaduna Power Plant, while 240MW would come from Afam IV, 40 MW from Kashimbila, 30 MW from Gurara, 29 MW from Dadin Kowa and a total of 3,750 MW from two big Hydro power plants in Zungeru (700MW) and Mambilla (3,050MW), while power is also programmed for nine universities and 15 markets across the country.
Also expected are transmission expansion from 90 transmission projects nationwide to boost the capacities of the distribution companies to distribute power across the country. The minister said that some of the transmission substations recently completed included Apo, Mayo Belwa, Damaturu, Maiduguri, Odogunyan and Ejigbo substations.
Fashola stressed that while distribution was being boosted through over 100 injection sub-stations, a distribution expansion programme to be funded by the federal government was now in an advanced state of procurement.
He noted that although there were still people yet to be reached and challenges due to disruptions from time to time and people who also needed meters “it is indisputable that we have delivered on incremental power.
“The evidence of our progress is not only captured in the last quarter of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Report for Q2 of 2018 which shows a growth of 7.5 per cent in the electricity sector.”
The minister said that previous quarterly reports from 2017, had consistently recorded growth, which, he noted “is a clear departure from 2014-2015 and proof of change.”
Pointing back to his inaugural address where he promised that it would not just be electricity by numbers but electricity that would be borne out by personal experiences, the minister stated that the report of survey carried out by government and feedback mechanism put in place by it had confirmed that many Nigerians now have public power for longer hours compared to 2015 and run generators for shorter periods compared to 2015, while they now spend less money on diesel to power their generators.
“As some citizens recently reported, they no longer have to iron all their clothes one week in advance as they previously used to do, because the supply is proving reliable and predictable even if not yet fully stable and uninterrupted. This is progress that we must move forward by consolidating on our mandate of change. We cannot go back,” the minister declared.
He said as the policies on Mini Grids, Meter Asset Provider, Eligible Customer, and liquidity sustenance and improved governance deepen, the experience with power supply could only get better adding, however, that the success of the plans now would depend on “energy users who must conserve energy when not needed.”
Relating to roads and bridges, Fashola, said progress report has also confirmed the promise he made at inauguration had been fulfilled. He declared, “We have recovered the thousands of jobs that were lost to public works. This recovery is the result of an expansive infrastructure spending that saw works budget grow from N18.132b in 2015 to N394b in 2018.
“The outcome is that there is not one state in Nigeria today where the federal government is not executing at least one road project and construction workers are engaged on these sites,” he said adding that even difficult or abandoned projects like the 2nd Niger Bridge, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and the Bodo-Bonny Bridge had been brought back to life.
He noted that sections of Ilorin-Jebba, Sokoto to Jega, Sokoto-Ilela had been completed, “while progress of works continues nationwide from Jada to Mayo Belwa, Enugu to Port Harcourt, Lagos to Otta, Ikorodu to Shagamu, Benin to Okene, Lokoja to Abuja, Kano to Maiduguri, Abuja – Kaduna, Kano to mention a few.”
Fashola said apart from recovered construction jobs and growth in construction sector of the economy, the feedback from road users has shown that the journey times were reducing on the completed roads recalling a text message he received last week from a commuter reporting that he travelled from Warri to Lagos in five and half hours.
And supporting the assertions of the minister, the director, Highways Planning and Development, Engineer Chukwunwike Uzo, said a total of 1262 roads were constructed and 885 roads were rehabilitated between 2016 and November 2018, while 79,378 persons were employed.
A breakdown of the figure showed that while 277 roads were constructed and 345 rehabilitated with 17,749 people employed in 2016, in 2017, 468 roads were constructed and 256 rehabilitated with 31,227 people employed in the process, while 497 roads were constructed and 284 rehabilitated, while 30,402 people got employed
According to the director, who made a contribution during the question and answer session, a total of N907, 628.118, 217 was budgeted for works between 2016 and 2018 while a total of N499, 609,297,524 were disbursed to contractors during the period.
Pointing out that the intervention on roads did not stop on interstate highways, the minister said his ministry has also entered 14 federal universities where unattended internal roads were now receiving attention listing the institutions to include, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Federal University Oye, Ekiti, University of Benin, Federal University, Lafia, Federal University, Otuoke Bayelsa and Bayero University, Kano.
Others, according to him, are Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO), University of Maiduguri, Federal University, Lokoja, Federal Polytechnic Bauchi, Federal University, Gashua, Kaduna Polytechnic, Federal College of Education Katsina and University College Ibadan.
According to him, “This is the first phase under the 2017 budget and we are preparing to do more under the 2018 budget.
The minister stated that for the benefit of those who seek more funding for education, the intervention and nine Independent Power projects in federal universities was an investment in education. According to him, while roads were being built, government was also attending to old or damaged bridges and restoring the value of maintenance.
On bridges repairs and construction, Fashola stated that while the Loko – Oweto Bridge was nearing completion, the damaged Tatabu Bridge linking Ilorin and Jebba had been reconstructed and the Tamburawa Bridge in Kano, the Isaac Boro Bridge in Rivers, Eko Bridge in Lagos and the Old Niger Bridge that links Anambra and Delta were receiving regular maintenance attention.
In housing, the minister said public buildings like the federal secretariats in Zamfara, Bayelsa, Nasarawa and Ekiti and the Zik Mausoleum in Onitsha had now been practically completed pointing out that the pilot National Housing Programme (NHP) has led to a nationwide housing construction being undertaken in the 34 states where government had received land. “No less than 1,000 people are employed on each site apart from the staff of the successful contractors.
“These sites are an ecosystem of human enterprise, where artisans, vendors, suppliers and craftsmen converge to partake of opportunities and contribute to nation building. These are some of the most vulnerable people for whom President Buhari has delivered,” Fashola said adding that parastatals like the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) and the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) were also contributing , while policies like the reduction of equity contribution from 5 per cent to 0 per cent for those seeking mortgage loans of up to N5million, and reduction from 15 per cent to 10 per cent for those seeking loans over N5million were helping to ease access to housing.
According to the minister, the ministry was also tackling the backlog of issuance of consent and Certificates of Occupancy to federal government’s land, adding that a total of 1,216 application for consent to transfer interests in land application and 1,300 certificates of occupancy have been approved and signed respectively as at October 25, 2018.
But some analysts have claimed that the minister’s performance review was a smart way of canvassing for votes for the incumbent administration.