Former Minister of Power, Housing and Works, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN, has said that it is absolutely impossible for any serving minister to change the face of Nigeria’s infrastructure in four years, adding that the nation is not rich enough to fund infrastructure.
The former Lagos governor appeared before the Senate on Monday, July 29, 2019 to be screened as one of President Muhammadu Buhari’s ministerial nominees.
Lawmakers largely quizzed Fashola on how he determined projects during his previous stint and why projects in their own constituencies were not properly attended to.
In response, Fashola said certain projects had to be prioritised over others because there’s a gap between the nation’s anticipated spending and its earnings.
He said, “It is common knowledge that no ministry has received all of the resources for its budget.
“So, yes, we gladly announce that the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing has N500 billion budget, but we seldom get more than N250 billion, N280 billion at peak.
“So, Nigeria is not yet the rich nation that I know it’ll be. It isn’t yet.”
Explaining further, Fashola said it’s impossible to change the state of the nation’s infrastructure in just four years, saying more time is needed.
“We can begin to have consensus about our priorities. We cannot do all of what we want at once. The life of a nation cannot be dealt with in four years. It requires more than four years,” he said.
Fashola also expressed displeasure with the cumbersome process of the nation’s public procurement.
The Public Procurement Act (2007) is the legislation that guides the monitoring and oversight of public procurement in Nigeria. The Act sets the standards and develops the legal framework and professional capacity for public procurement in the country.
Fashola said the Act excludes some of the most vulnerable people in the country, and largely favours big businesses.
“They can’t benefit because the conditions are too onerous. They have to bring all sorts of documents which they never had. The cost of getting those documents becomes something that makes them unable to benefit,” he said.
He said despite his ministry’s implementation of a national infrastructure maintenance programme that sought to benefit regular Nigerians, big people are more likely to get contracts due to the procurement process.
He declared that the legislation is holding the country back and urged lawmakers to rise to the challenge and review the issue “as a matter of expedition”.
Hadi Sirika, a former Minister of State for Aviation, made a similar call for a review of the Act when he was screened last week.