The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, has called on communities and states to take ownership of federal projects in their areas to prevent disputes or acts of sabotage that could be detrimental to the delivery of such projects.
The Minister made the call last week, while on a nation wide inspection, verification and fact finding tour of projects under his Ministry. The minister inspected various sections of the Abuja–Abaji-Lokoja Road, the Geregu I and II Power Plants and the Lokoja 330/132/33 KV Transmitting Sub Station in Kogi State.
A statement from his spokesman, Mr. Hakeem Bello, said the tour also took him to Benue, Nasarawa and Plateau states in the North Central zone by road “to see firsthand the state of work at several important power, roads, housing and other infrastructure facilities under the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing.”
He was said to have paid a courtesy visit along with his Minister of State, Hon. Mustapha Baba Shehuri, to the then outgoing Governor of Kogi State, Captain Idris Wada. Fashola told the former governor that the tour was informed by the need to see things for themselves first hand.
“This is the 80th day since our appointments as ministers. We have spent the time before now planning a budget, taking briefings, getting to know our staff, getting to know ourselves and this phase of the work now is to go and see for ourselves some of the things we’ve read in files across the States, some of the things we have been told in the meetings and to see things as they stand in preparation for implementation,” he was quoted to have said.
Enumerating some of the projects already inspected, Fashola said the Ministry remained committed to the completion of the Abuja – Abaji- Lokoja Road, in order to achieve the connectivity of the two cities and the State itself to the Federal Capital Territory as well as facilitate the efficient movement of goods and services.
The Minister intimated of various steps being taken to realise the various aspects of the Ministry’s mandate in collaboration with the states.
He said: “I have written to all Governors about providing us with land for housing and also providing us with their advisers, commissioners or assistants as the case maybe on Energy.”
Continuing the Minister declared, “We will need those advisers, commissioners and assistants to be our front men in the states. Men and women who will take decisions, who will be accountable to the state governors, because we are also seeing that quite a number of critical power projects are held up by community issues, disputes, environmental issues, cultural issues, social issues which are best dealt with by the people who are masters of the terrain and usually the Governors are closer to the local people.”
According to the Minister, the Federal Government through the Ministry wants to pay attention to and resolve as many of such issues as possible in order to ensure that important life impacting projects are delivered on time for the benefit of the people.
According to him, “We have just resolved some issues in one of the states where the power project has been held by communal and legal issues that was delaying about 700MW of power from being put to completion.
“These are the kinds of things that we want to tackle now. And these are the kind of things that I think has been left in the back burner. So we have cases of land disputes over erection of transmission towers, who gets compensation, who does not get and they escalate to court issues.”
Decrying such negative attitudes as people going to damage or sabotage infrastructural facilities located in their communities, the Minister appealed for more community and state ownership of projects in order to check those practices.
“We are seeing people blowing up gas pipes. They are things happening within states and within Nigeria. So we want much more community ownership, we want much more state ownership, so that these things can be put behind us. You can’t want electricity and be destroying electricity infrastructure,” Fashola said.
The Minister also revealed that President Muhammad Buhari, has constituted a Committee comprising some ministers including Power, Works and Housing, Transportation and Education, to review and verify claims made by states with respect to work done on Federal roads in order to enable the Federal Government put a plan in place for refunds.
According to Fashola, the tour would also enable him to see such projects done by states who had put up requests for refunds in the North Central and other zones he would be visiting while the Ministers of
State for Power, Works and Housing would also be visiting some of the states in line with the responsibilities for verification allotted in the Committee.