By Naomi Sharang
Senators have called on the Federal Government to consider using money from the pension fund for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of roads in the country.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Works, Sen. Adamu Aliero made the call when he led members of the committee on a courtesy visit to the Akwa-Ibom Governor, Emmanuel Udom on Saturday in Uyo.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the roads inspected included the Calabar-Itu road, Construction of Ikot-Ekpene border-Aba-Owerri road among others.
According to Aliero, the Federal Government has decided to perhaps use the pension fund to reconstruct roads in the country as the annual budgetary allocation is insufficient to fund the over 522 roads.
He said that there was a proposal before the National Economic Council, that part of the fund which was almost N9 trillion, be used in funding infrastructure, particularly roads.
“The use of pension fund is currently under consideration by the three tiers of government and the Federal Government has said it will be floating bond using Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) or converting the looted funds into the reconstruction and rehabilitation of roads,” he said
According to him, whenever the proposal is approved by the Federal Government, the National Assembly would give it accelerated approval.
“This is because we know that there is a deficit in infrastructural facilities in the country particularly road infrastructure,” Aliero said.
The chairman said that the committee was in Uyo to also assess the level of work done on the roads and to see whether the money appropriated for the job was justly utilised.
“In doing so we will know the way forward particularly because we have scarce resources and we have to prioritise on what should be done.
“Annual budgeting alone will not be enough to fund well over 522 roads we have in the federal government budget,” he explained
Aliero noted that Nigerian roads were in bad shape and needed to be improved upon to ease movement of goods and services.
“We have seen how bad the roads are; we will do what we have to do to salvage the situation,” he said.
The lawmaker however, expressed concern about a contractor in the state who was given N8 billion mobilisation fee, worked for about one month and disappeared for about ten months.
“With proper monitoring and supervision, this kind of thing wouldn’t have happened. We urge you to show more interest on what is going on in the state particularly federal government projects.”
Gov. Udom who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Emmanuel Ekuwem said that the state government had intervened in the rehabilitation of some federal roads in the state.
“For instance, the Calabar-Itu highway, all things being equal, plying the road takes one hour if the road is in good shape. Time came last year when we were spending six to seven hours.”
The Governor said that getting refunds from the Federal Government was a herculean task adding however that, the state government was putting the right mechanism in place to get result.
“When we did that, we were looking forward to being encouraged by the Federal Government for refund,” he said. (NAN)