Following widespread condemnations from individuals and groups particularly from the South-West, a lawmaker, representing Lagos West Senatorial District, Senator Olamilekan Adeola, has said the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway project will be completed “soon.”
Adeola, in a statement on Sunday by his Media Adviser, Mr. Kayode Odunaro, said the request by the Presidency to vire N135bn in the 2017 budget, out of which the Trunk A road would be funded, had been put in “abeyance.
The PUNCH had exclusively reported on Wednesday that the National Assembly had yet to approve the request by the Presidency to move N135.6bn to other pressing sub-heads in the 2017 budget five months after the request was submitted to it by the executive.
Both chambers of the National Assembly, on Tuesday, told The PUNCH that the virement, which seeks improved funding for key projects, including the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and the Second Niger Bridge, had been overtaken by events.
The senator, who is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Content, was reacting to the condemnations trailing the reduction of N31bn to N10bn in the 2017 budget by the National Assembly to rehabilitate the road, and the failure by the legislature to approve the virement in the budget to execute the project.
Adeola stated that with the President Muhammadu Buhari’s presentation of the 2018 budget proposal, “the issue of virement is now in abeyance with the issue still trapped in legislative process of the National Assembly.”
The lawmaker however said N20.5bn had been voted for the road in the 2018 budget proposal currently before the National Assembly.
Adeola said he was happy that the 2018 budget proposal under consideration made “ample provisions for the key infrastructure that serves as a major road network for economic activities in Nigeria.”
He added that efforts would be made to ensure that the provisions were passed and strict implementation enforced for the completion of the project.
“In all, a total of N20.5bn was made for the dual-carriage way in the 2018 proposal. For Section 1 of the project, N9bn was proposed while Section 2 of the project has N11.5bn. We will consider an increase if possible, in view of debt from unpaid completion certificates already executed on the two sections, to see contractors back to site and working fully early next year,” he said.
Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, as the Acting President while President Muhammadu Buhari was in London on medical vacation, had, on July 20, 2017, written to both chambers of the National Assembly seeking approval for the re-allocation of some funds in the 2017 budget.
The Senate, however, did not treat the request until November 6, 2017, when it was referred to the Committee on Appropriations. The committee has yet to present its report to the chamber as of the time this report was filed.
The executive and the National Assembly had clashed after Osinbajo signed the 2017 Appropriation Bill of N7.441trn into law on June 12.
Both arms of government disagreed on the reduction of budgetary allocations to key projects, including the votes to the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and the Second Niger Bridge.
The contractors, reconstructing the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway — Julius Berger and RCC — suspended work on the highway, described as the most important in the country, in July, due to mounting debts by the Federal Government.
The lawmakers had reduced allocation to the work on the road from N31bn to N10bn while the National Assembly added N10bn to its allocation to take its budgetary allocation from the previous N115bn to N125bn, ascribing the increase to inflation.