The Nigerian government says its priority for the releases for capital projects in the 2020 budget will be on fixing bad roads in the country.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said this on Wednesday after the Federal Executive Council meeting at the presidential villa in Abuja.
She told State House correspondents that while 100 per cent releases are not guaranteed, “whenever we release funds for capital projects, the Ministry of Power and the Ministry of Works and Housing are always a priority and also the Ministry of Transport.”
President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2020 appropriation bill presented to the National Assembly earmarked N262 billion for the Ministry of Works and Housing
The bulk of this amount would be to fix roads, Mrs Ahmed assured.
“Our fiscal space is tight, resources are limited because revenues are underperforming. But at times we have the resources, funds to release, the highest proportion goes to power, transport, works and housing.”
Mrs Ahmed said her ministry has introduced some measures which have seen private sector partnerships in road construction.
“One of these measures is the Road Infrastructure Task Credit Scheme that Mr President approved by Executive Order earlier this year. So far we have 17 companies that are carrying out 19 roads across the six geo-political zones.
“I also want to remind you that for the past two years, we have issued Sukuk bonds. In 2017, it was for the construction of 25 roads. In 2018, 23 roads and there is also another one that is being processed.
“Have we done enough? No, not yet. That is why we are trying to do more, including raising special funds to make sure that roads and other infrastructure are being addressed.”
Mrs Ahmed also said the presidential directive to release N600 billion for capital expenditure has been obeyed.
She added that the target is to “release up to N900 billion by December but right now, we are at about N650 billion capital release so far.”
While appearing before the House of Representatives Committee on Works, Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Works and Housing in October put the nation’s road network at 194,000 kilometres. Of this, the federal government is responsible for about 17 per cent, the state governments 16 per cent and the local governments the remaining 67 per cent.
Believed to have underestimated the ratio of the good to bad of these federal roads, Mr Fashola was chided by Nigerians and even the opposition PDP.
The new resolve by the minister of finance to fund these roads suggests the ministry of works and housing will need to roll up its sleeves to put the roads in good shape.