President Muhammadu Buhari has said state governments should stop fixing Federal roads if they knew that they would be asking the Federal Government for compensation.
This is coming against the backdrop of the revelation that the Federal Government is indebted to the states to the tune of N454 billion.
Minister for Works and Housing Babatunde Fashola (SAN) made the disclosures when he appeared at a two-day interactive session held by the Francis Uduyok-led Ad hoc committee on abandoned Federal Government Projects (Works) from 1999 till date.
Fashola said, “What has happened to states is another thing. The states submitted a bill of almost a trillion naira when President Buhari was elected. He asked us to work out what was their entitlements and all of that.
“Ultimately, BPP certified about 454 billion. I don’t remember the exact amount now. Except for two states… I think Cross River and another state; they didn’t have the documents at the time, which we have sent back to the President.
“But the decision to pay those inherited debts, including the ones I contracted as Governor in Lagos, was with the caveat that I should tell the Governors to leave his roads alone. Those were the directives; I was not the one that took the decision.
“He said ‘tell them not to fix my roads again if they are going to claim compensation… If you want to fix it and not ask for compensation, send me what you want to do. But if you want compensation, go and mind your business while I mind my business, because I have inherited enough debts’.”
Fashola said the amount of inherited debts was more than the budget of the ministry, adding, “So that is the reality”.
On the view that the ministry was overstretching itself by handling 472 road projects at once, Fashola said the incessant demands by lawmakers was partly responsible for the high number of projects being done by the ministry.
He also blamed the scourge of abandoned projects on budget cuts.
The minister advocated the need to stop embarking on new projects to allow for the completion of old projects.
He said consensus and sacrifice were necessary for development “because our money is not enough for what we want to build”.