*Approves over N718bn to protect rail tracks, 20 stations 

*To refund N27.776bn to Taraba, Kebbi, and Yobe for fixing federal roads 

The Federal Government has approved N42 billion for the construction and general repairs of roads in five of the six states in the North East geo-political zone.

This was part of the outcome of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting held Wednesday at the State House, Abuja a,nd presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari. 

Briefing newsmen after the virtual meeting, 

Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, said she presented four memos that were approved by FEC for road construction and reconstruction in five states of the North East region, namely Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Gombe, and Bauchi. 

Her words: “For Borno, we have a 22.5-kilometer road that is to be reconstructed. This road is Ngom-Koshebe and Ngom-Zabarmari-Gongulong-Kajari road with the contract sum of N13,553,902,668.95

“The second contract is on the reconstruction of 53 Kilometer Gombe-Abba-Dukurfi Road in Gombe Road and Bauchi state in the contract sum of N11,697,355,449.61.

“The other road is the 54-kilometer Mutayi-Ngalda road in Yobe state with the contract sum of  N12,199,182,845.70.

“The fourth one is the one for Adamawa State, Garkida road, it has a contract sum of N6,202,214,413.29  inclusive of 7.5 VAT. Garkida road in Adamawa state is located at the fringes of the Sambisa forest.

“All these roads are being taken into consideration and selected in conjunction with the State governments and other critical stakeholders. These roads are expected to stimulate our economic activities, enhance security and facilitate the freer movement of goods and people in these affected states within the zone.

“The ministry also is in collaboration with the Ministry of Works and Housing and in the co-funding of various roads in the Northeast region. As you’re aware you’re not is Development Commission was established in 2017. To address issues of rebuilding, reconstructing, rehabilitating, and reintegrating the people of the Northeast who have been affected by the insurgency. 

“We are also in partnership and collaboration with the Nigerian Society of engineers in the area of engaging reputable local consultants for the design and supervision of the major works in line with the executive order five for promoting local content in science, engineering, and technology.

“All the four memos were considered and graciously approved by council.”

Also, briefing newsmen, Transportation Minister, Muazu Sambo, said the government is looking at the best options in terms of the surveillance of rail tracks including concessioning it in a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.

Asked about the exact timelines to execute the initiative, Sambo said: “If I give a timeline, I’ll be lying to you. It will be insensitive to restart the service if some families weep day and night over their family members still in the bush.”

The minister said the government is mindful of the cost involved but should be able to report definite progress in about a month.

The Minister revealed that FEC approved a contract for the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) worth about N1.49 billion for the repair of the crane.

On his part, the Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Mohammed Bello, said the Council approved a total sum of N718,193,250 to two security outfits to provide security to the entire 45 kilometers of trail track and 20 stations across the country.

His words:  “Council approved Messers Al-Ahli Security Guards Limited and Messers Seaguard security and Protective Company Limited. They are going to provide security to their entire 45 kilometers of track including 12 stations. And these security services are meant to protect the key infrastructure on the rail tracks, the signaling and communication equipment as well as the electrical system. Halali security guard Limited is going to secure 27.4 kilometers of the track, covering eight stations at the cost of N407,214,000 over a two-year period, while Seaguard securities are protective Company Limited is going to secure 18 kilometers of the rail tracks including four railway stations and that is at a cost of N310,979,250.

Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, in his presentation, also said the FEC approved two memoranda presented by the ministry. 

The first was a contract for the reconstruction of the Mushin-NNPC-Apapa-Oshodi road, which is the road that goes through Isolo to Ajigbo, at the sum of N11,166,270,197.85 to Strabic construction company, with a completion period of 20 months.

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According to him, the council also approved the report and recommendation of a council committee set up by the President in order to respond to demands by state governments for refunds on an intervention made previously before the current administration on federal roads, before the President subsequently issued the directive that there should be no more intervention by states on federal roads.

“But there were some that had been done before the life of this administration. So there were three states, Kebbi, Yobe, and Taraba. I think on the 22nd of June, I reported that the claims for Yobe for N18.663 billion were approved. That left those of Kebbi and Taraba states. 

“So today, the council approved N6.706 billion for Kebbi state and N2.470 billion for Taraba states. The Council also approved that the road under construction by Taraba states for which this reimbursement is being made that that contract by the state government should be terminated. That is a section between Bali and Seti. 

“This is because you will recall last year that council had approved the full reconstruction of Bali- Seti to  Gembu under the NNPC tax credit scheme. 

“This is a better-designed road than the one that has a laterite base currently being constructed by the Taraba state government. But because there was an existing approval given before the life of this administration, we will refund up to this last refund. But we will not refund anymore, we’re going to reconstruct the road. So I just thought it was important to make that clarification. We have a full construction now, instead of part construction that the Taraba state was undertaking.”

Fashola explained that the refund relates to debts and obligations incurred by the previous administration before the life of this administration. 

“So this is also part of the national debt. So the process of payment requires the Ministry of Finance subsequent to this approval, to go to the National Assembly, to get approval to raise debt to secure payment to the States. I think it’s important to note that when we’re having a conversation about the national debt, these are some of the components that were inherited debts that this government is also paying for infrastructure.”

He recalled that 24 states including Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Cross River, and Osun have received their refunds in the first tranche of about N700 billion. He said another set of five states has also received over N120 billion. 

According to him,  the three states of Yobe, Kebbi, and Taraba have received refunds of N18.6, N6.706, and N2.470 respectively, total of N27.776 billion, adding that rough estimates showed that the federal government has refunded almost a trillion to states as part of the public debt.

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