The National Assembly slashed N21 billion off the N31 billion vote for the Lagos–Ibadan Expressway, Nigeria’s Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has said.
Speaking in Lagos during the week, Mr. Fashola said N5 billion was also taken off the Second Niger Bridge.
He said funds saved were “diverted” to projects inserted into the 2017 budget by the lawmakers, which were not government’s priorities.
“What I have in my budget now is primary healthcare centres, boreholes,” Mr. Fashola said.
“That was the meeting we had with the Acting President and that was the reason why the budget was not signed on time.
“We were asked to complete those abandoned projects; the budget of Lagos-Ibadan Expressway was reduced by the National Assembly from N31 billion to N10 billion.
“We are owing the contractors about N15 billion and they have written to us that they are going to shut down.
“Also, the budget of the 2nd Niger bridge was reduced from N15 billion to N10 billion and about N3 billion or so was removed from the Okene-Lokoja-Abuja road budget,’’ he said.
“If after we had defended the budget and we had gone and the legislature unilaterally changed the budget, what is the purpose of deliberation?’’ he added.
Mr. Fashola said it was unfair to Nigerians that after public hearings were conducted with tax payers’ money and consultations held with the lawmakers, the budget would be altered, cut or padded.
According to the former Lagos state governor, in addition to the 200 uncompleted roads he inherited from the previous administration, the lawmakers added 100.
“These roads are not federal roads and some of them do not have designs; how do we award roads that were not designed irrespective of the power you have?,” he said.
“It is unconstitutional for the National Assembly to legislate on state roads. The executive controls all the machinery for collecting taxes and other revenue with relevant data from the Ministries of Finance, Physical Planning and the Budget Office and others.
“I am not saying that the legislature cannot contribute to the budget, but I hold the view that it cannot increase the budget because they do not collect the revenue with which to run or implement the budget.
“The society benefits more from the power of example and interdependence rather than the example (show) of power; it requires that we show good examples.’’