Apparently shaken by the revelation that over 1,000 businesses in the Eastern axis of Nigeria are closing down due to the deplorable state of federal roads there, the Senate has ordered for an urgent investigation into the matter.
From all indications, the Red Chamber of Nigeria’s bicameral Legislature under the watch of Godswill Akpabio, is bracing to probe some of the unwholesome road contracts of the Buhari administration.
Already, it has mandated its Committee on Works, when constituted, to probe the award of contracts for the rehabilitation of Aba-Osisioma, Port-Harcourt, Umuahia -Ikot -Ekpene roads.
This is coming as Akpabio has announced chairmen of some standing committees: Appropriations, Public Accounts, Ethics, and Public Petitions and Establishment.
Speaking at Tuesday’s plenary session, Akpabio said that Senator Solomon Adeola will chair the Appropriations Committee, while Senator Ahmed Wadada is to chair the Public Accounts Committee.
Senate President Akpabio also read a letter from President Bola Tinubu addressed to the Senate seeking the confirmation of recently appointed service chiefs.
He said the service chiefs will be screened by the entire senate in the senate chamber on a yet-to-be-announced date.
Tinubu also asked the House of Representatives to confirm the newly appointed service chiefs.
The House Speaker, Abass Tajudeen, read Tinubu’s letter at the opened Thursday plenary session.
On June 19, Tinubu replaced all the service chiefs with immediate effect. The dismissed security chiefs included retired Maj-Gen Babagana Monguno (National Security Adviser), Lucky Irabor (Chief of Defence Staff), Faruk Yahaya (Chief of Army Staff), Awwal Gambo (Chief of Naval Staff), and Isiaka Amao (Chief of Air Staff).
The new appointees are Nuhu Ribadu (National Security Adviser), Maj. Gen. Christopher Musa (Chief of Defence Staff), Maj. Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja (Chief of Army Staff), Rear Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla (Chief of Naval Staff), and AVM Hassan Abubakar (Chief of Air Staff).
They have since resumed in an acting capacity awaiting confirmation by the National Assembly.
However, on the road contracts probe, the Senate specifically mandated the works committee to investigate the level of funds released, utilization and the level of work done so far.
The Senate’s resolution followed the consideration and adoption of a motion at plenary on Tuesday.
The motion, Urgent Need to Investigate Delay in Completion of Umuahia Umudike-Ikot -Ekpene, Aba -Ikot Ekpene and Aba-Osisioma to Port -Harcourt roads was sponsored by Sen. Nwokocha Darlington of Labour Party, Abia State.
In a debate, Nwokocha said Aba-Osisioma, Umuahia -Umudike, Ikot Ekpene and Aba to Ikot -Ekpene roads are critical national assets and Federal Government category “A” interstates roads.
According to him, the road traverses and connects the South-East, South-South South-West, and Northern geo-political zones of the country.
Continuing, the federal legislator said the roads, are central to the economic and social nerves of the cities of Aba, Umuahia, Uyo, Ikot-Ekpene, and Port -Harcourt, and serve as the arteries of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPC) operations, providing the company an alternative channel for distribution of Petroleum products.
Adfing, he said important agricultural produce nationwide has continued to perish due to uncountable delays in the completion of the road projects.
He said Abuja had awarded the contract for the road to messers CGCC Global Project Nigeria Limited, Heartland and Raycon Construction Company and China Civil Engineering Construction Company, CCECC, pointing out that the project was funded by NNPC limited.
The funding, he went on, was pursuant to the Presidential Executive Order 007 signed in 2019 under the Road Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme designed to boost Nigeria’s national road asset and marginally reduce the critical infrastructure deficit in Nigeria.
NNPC had handed a symbolic cheque of N621.24 billion for reconstruction of the 21 critical roads across the country including the Aba-Ikot Ekpene Umudike-Ikot -Ekpene roads to the Federal Government, he says.
He decreed that despite expanding in excess of N15 billion since inception on the critical roads, the Umuahia Umudike-Ikot-Ekpene roads had only attained six per cent completion as at April 2023.
The deplorable state of the Aba -Port Harcourt road, according to him, has led to economic stagnation of a former boisterous commercial city with more than 1000 businesses closing down.
This, he said, has resulted in negative impacts on the standard of living of households, youth unemployment, government revenue and general productivity.
Persuaded, the Senate in its resolution further urged the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing and Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA), to urgently intervene and include repair of the failed portions of the roads, in their plans.
The Red Chamber equity urged the ministry to ensure provisions for a full and permanent solution to urgently complete the road.