Senate calls out Ahmed, others over FG’s N2.7tr legacy road projects

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Senate

The Senate, on Tuesday, summoned Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, on the financing status of three federal government legacy road projects expected to cost N2.7trillion.

The Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Solomon Adeola (Lagos West) gave the Directive to Mr. Uche Orji, Managing Director of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) in Abuja, during an interactive panel session.

The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris and the NSIA Chairman, Orji, will also appear before the Senate .

The legacy projects are the Abuja-Kano road, Lagos-Ibadan expressway and the Second Niger Bridge.

Orji told the lawmakers that the Federal Government established the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) in February 2018, to accelerate the execution of “certain critical, strategic infrastructure projects essential to the rapid growth and modernization of the nation’s economy.”

He said that the PIDF is being managed by the NSIA to develop the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Second Niger Bridge Project, Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano road, Mambilla Hydro-Power Project and the East West Road.

According to him, the total cost of the projects is estimated to be N2.7trillion.

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He noted that the sources of funds for the projects included Federal Government’s initial seed funding of $650million transferred to PIDF in 2018, N90billion transferred by the Ministry of Finance to PIDF in 2019 and $311million recovered funds transferred to the PIDF in 2020.

He said that the NSIA is to provide $300million, China Exim N1.423 billion, second seed funding $650million and other sources (local and international financial institutions) $770million.

He said that the NSIA has so far expended the sum of N231.8billion on the three projects as follows: Lagos-Ibadan (N60.9billion), 2nd Niger Bridge (N100.6billion) and the Abuja-Kano road (N70.1billon).

He noted that currently, the PIDF is being utilised in the construction of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Second Niger Bridge project and the Abuja-Kano Road.

He noted that the construction contracts were executed between the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing (FMWH) and the Contractors before they were transferred to the PIDF, “therefore, all information and documentation relating to the projects prior the handover should be sought from the FMWH.”

He also said that the legacy debts of the three projects are the responsibility the FMWH.

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However, the lawmakers disagreed with him and sought to know why he claims that the projects are being managed by the NSIA but yet refused to inherit the assets and liabilities of the projects.

It was at this point that the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Adeola directed that Ahmed, Fashola and Idris be summoned to appear before the Committee alongside Orji in two weeks’ time to explain the status of funding for the projects and the issue of legacy debts.

Earlier, Orji noted that the PIDF balance as at June 2020 stood at N181.4billion.

“This balance incorporates the receipt of the recovered assets of $311million. We estimate these funds to be depleted by the beginning of quarter three of 2021.

“Under the PIDF mandate, NSIA is to receive two transfers of $650million. Thus far, NSIA received one of the transfers. Once the funding in Q3 2021 is expended, NSIA will either need the additional transfer or raise funding from other sources,” Orji said.

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