The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has advised the Federal Government to include the East–West Road among the critical infrastructure projects being funded from the coffers of the nation’s Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF).
The governor also noted that the Federal Government’s directive stopping state governments from funding the construction or rehabilitation of failed federal roads was inimical to the effective development, management and maintenance of road infrastructure across the country.
He made this assertion in his opening address at the 26th meeting of the National Council on Works in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Wike, said the theme of the meeting: “Infrastructure Development, Job Creation and National Economic Growth”, fits to the generally held view that road infrastructure plays a critical role in enabling economic development, poverty reduction and inclusive progress.
The governor pointed out that the East–West Road, which was too important to the economic prosperity of the South-South region and the nation, has been under construction for over 15 years; yet, a completion date is still not in sight.
He urged Federal Government to urgently consider funding the East-West Road from the Sovereign Wealth Fund to guarantee its completion by 2022 as being touted by the minister of the Niger Delta.
“It makes progressive sense as a development strategy therefore for state governments to reconstruct such federal roads with reputable contractors on behalf of the Federal Government and get refunded after due verification of the price and quality of work done.
“The federal and state governments need to consult and collaborate regularly to accelerate the delivery of road infrastructure to advance and realize the hopes and aspirations of our people for development and decent living.”
Wike explained that the state government is presently constructing six flyovers a Federal Government road to ease the perennial traffic congestions on the problematic intersections of Port Harcourt–Aba Expressway.
“Let me, therefore, appeal to the Federal Government to continue to collaborate with the state governments on road development by allowing states to fix federal roads with the assurance of a refund.”
The governor stated that his administration has consistently dedicated over 65 per cent of the state budget annually for the construction of new roads or the reconstruction and or maintenance and rehabilitation of existing roads across the state, including federal roads.
“The result is the unprecedented delivery of close to 900 kilometres of roads, bridges and flyovers spread across the length and breadth of the state, including some of the far-flung communities that have now been linked by roads for the first time.”
The Minster of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, said the Covid-19 pandemic brought to the fore the importance of human mobility to the health of any economy with the urban poor appearing to be the worst hit as a result of the lockdown.
Fashola explained that against the former practice of flexible pavement connection module that was cost intensive, his ministry was ready to unveil the rigid design manual which was cost effective and would guide construction activities in the country.
The Chairman of Senate Committee of Works, Senator Adamu Aliero, who advocated the setting up of infrastructural bank as an alternative source of funding of federal road projects, said it has become practically difficult for the Federal Government to fund the 711 roads captured in the federal budget.
FG Moves To Stop Influx Of Illegal Aliens
The Federal Government has promised to put measures in place to end the movement of illegal immigrants into the country to secure the country.
The government stated that the era where aliens easily enter the country with fake travel documents must stop.
The Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, according to a statement on Saturday by the Director of Press of the Ministry, Afonja Ajibola, disclosed this when the Director, the Bureau of Public Service Reforms, Dasuki Arabi visited him.
The statement read, “The Minister assured he is working seriously on efficient ways at securing Nigeria borders; saying a situation where illegal aliens easily find their ways into the country often with fake travel documents has to be stopped. In his view, Nigeria cannot be secured if its borders are not secured”.
The Minister also said the Ministry was ready to partner with the BPSR in proffering effective solutions to the nation’s security challenges, especially in securing the nation’s borders.
“I am ready to actively collaborate with the Bureau of Public Service Reforms to find solutions to our security challenges,” he was quoted as saying.
ECOWAS Condemns Plot To Obstruct Peace In Sierra Leone
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has condemned the plot by some individuals to disturb peace in Sierra Leone.
The condemnation is contained in a statement issued by ECOWAS in Abuja, yesterday.
ECOWAS said, “The bloc has learnt, with utter disgust, a plot by certain individuals to aquire arms and disturb the peace and constitutional order in Sierra Leone.
“ECOWAS condemns this act and calls for the arrest and prosecution of everyone involved in the illegality.
“The bloc has always maintained its zero tolerance for unconstitutional change of government.
“We want to reaffirm our commitment to supporting the government and the people of Sierra Leone’s quest to deepen democracy and good governance by consolidating peace and security so as to foster socio-economic development”.
Earlier, the Sierra Leonean Government had declared a 24-hour nationwide curfew in a proactive step to ensure that the peace is not tampered with.
Bad Roads Fuelling Insecurity In N’East -Govs
Worried by the security challenges confronting the region, governors of the North East have resolved to embark on more collaborative efforts among member states to come up with a security architecture design for the region.
The governors noted that bad federal roads are fuelling insecurity in the region and called on the Federal Ministry of Works to follow through with road contracts awarded in the region.
This is contained in a communique issued at the end of the 9th meeting of the forum, held at the banquet hall of the Adamawa State Government House in Yola last Saturday.
According to a statement signed by the Chairman of the Forum and Governor of Borno State, Babagana Zulum, the forum said there was a need for a robust platform for regional economic development and resolved to work as an entity in strengthening the human capacity and socio-economic development of its people.
The communique read in part, “Forum is continuously disturbed about the poor infrastructural base of the region. More concerned that the federal roads within and between the states in the region have been neglected.
“We call on the Federal Ministry of Works to follow through with road contracts awarded in the region. The poor road network is fuelling insecurity stalling development and making life more difficult for our people in the region.
“Forum notes that the bad federal roads within and between the states are major setbacks to the infrastructural development of the region.
“Forum notes the poor energy situation in the region. To mitigate the situation, Forum resolved to work with Shanghai Electric to construct a 60 MW Coal Power Power Plant in each state of the region.
“Forum decried the lack of modern rail projects in the region and called for repairs on the old gauge rail lines which no longer useful and sustainable technology. Forum calls for inclusion of the region into the Nigerian National Railway Transport Plan using the Modern Guage rail.”
On climate change and environmental degradation, the forum resolved to strengthen its collaboration with all initiatives such as the Great Green Wall and the Global Initiative of Carbon Credit financing.
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