FG suspends refund for federal roads after approving N148bn to 5 states

Motorists try to avoid waterlogged potholes on Apapa Oshodi expressway that leads to Apapa ports, West Africa's busiest and largest container terminal on October 20, 2014 in Lagos. Many roads lack proper drainage, turning them into swimming pools within minutes of a downpour, roadside culverts overflow, tarmac disintegrates, traffic lights and road signs are often absent. The poor state of Nigeria's roads is an exasperating joke for the country's long-suffering population but there are still hopes that improvements can be made. AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has cancelled refunds for federal roads constructed by state governments across the country.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who briefed State House reporters after the third virtual cabinet meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari, said any state willing to execute project on federal roads without the intention of repayment must equally seek permission of the federal government because it would be supervised by the federal ministry of works and housing.

Mohammed, however, announced that the FEC had approved the refund of N148.1 billion to five states spent on federal roads because of the new guidelines. The refund includes N18.3 billion to Cross River, N7.8b to Ondo, N2.4b to Osun, N38b to Bayelsa and N78.9b to Rivers.

Mohammed said over N500 billion had earlier been paid to 31 states. He said: “You will recall that in 2016, 36 states of the federation sent a very huge bill to the federal government, asking for compensation for money that they have expended on federal roads.

“This prompted Mr President to set up a committee to go and verify the claims of these 36 states, whether indeed these projects were actually constructed and completed in line with the federal government standards.

“At the end of that exercise by an inter-ministerial committee, chaired by the honorable minister of works and housing but also had ministers of education, transportation, finance, minister of state for works, DG BPP and permanent secretary cabinet office as members.

“At the end of that exercise, the committee recommended that the federal government should refund N550,364,297.31 billion to 31 of the 36 states, after they were convinced that, yes indeed, the projects were completed and there were federal government roads.

“But the claims of five other states Cross River, Rivers, Ondo, Bayelsa and Osun failed on the grounds that they did not do proper documentation and the committee felt they needed proper documentation.

Mohammed said the committees confirmed the roads and the bridges built about 10 years ago were not only completed but also in substantially good form. He said: “There is a caveat, the federal government will pay the states, however, henceforth, if any state takes on federal government road, it will not be paid, they will not get any refund.

“Even if you want to pay from your own pocket, you will still need the permission of the federal government and it will be supervised by the federal ministry of works and housing.”

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