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Umahi: If you fight me, you fight Tinubu *Vows to end low quality roads in Nigeria

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To Dave Umahi, Minister of Works, contractors spoiling to fight him for abandoning asphalt in place of reinforced cement for Nigerian roads, must be ready to start from President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, whom he said had fully bought into the new proposal.

Umahi, who was speaking at the weekend on the state of the roads in the country, bemoaned a situation, where roads being constructed across the country went bad even before they were completed, adding that in most cases there life-spans did not exceed five years.

Speaking on a day he also revealed that the budget for road projects inherited from past administration, had bloated to as high as N14trillion, covering 18,000 kilometers, Umahi, former governor of Ebonyi State, said the only answer was to redesign the roads for the deployment of the cement technology.

Hear him: “Just look at over 2600 projects, 18,000 kilometers of roads, and N14trillion. That is huge! And the worrisome part of this is that even the ones that are being funded properly, the roads hardly last up to five years.

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“The short lifespan of roads necessitated my recent proposal to the President to redesign and construct yet-to-be-completed federal roads using reinforced concrete. So I briefed Mr. President on what we are doing by introducing reinforced concrete technology for our road pavements.

“I’ll fight the entities poised to frustrate this plan. I know that there are a lot of fights from contractors, but I’m David, I’m known for fight and I will fight this because I’ve reported myself to Mr. President. I’ve received the President’s blessings to adopt the concrete reinforced pavements for roads across the country. Incidentally, Mr. President is also an infrastructure guru and he fully supports that we should use reinforced concrete for our road pavements.

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“So there is no other place you can report me other than to report me to God. So Mr. President is supporting me that way. We’ll redesign our roads in reinforced concrete pavement. I’m aware that the contractors have been quarreling and arguing. So, I want to declare that I’m open to any kind of blackmail, but my eyes are on the ball. And my eyes are on how we can get Nigerians to have value for the money. That is the assignment President Bola Tinubu gave to me and I’m going to do that with the fear of God.”

Umahi, who spoke to reporters while emerging from a meeting with the President at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, after a meeting with President Bola Tinubu over the weekend, said the affected roads were 2,604 in number, adding that N4 trillion out of the N14 trillion owed in contracts had already been defrayed, while the government had already identified funding sources to offset N4 trillion more of its outstanding debts, leaving N6 trillion funding gap.

Informing that some of the projects had lingered for about two decades were never appropriated and will, therefore, be terminated, he said: “The ministry inherited a total of 2,604 projects, worth N14 trillion and for 18,000 kilometers of road, that’s what we had. Between when we came on board and now, about N4trillion has been paid and so that is a balance of N10 trillion remaining. Now, in this N10trillion, we have defined sources that could fund up to N4trillion. So, we have a funding gap of about N6trillion. That is what is there now.

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“We have a number of programmes for road development under the previous administration. We inherited all the projects. We have not dropped any of them. But it is curious to know that some of these projects have lasted for 20 years, some 10 years.

“In fact, in most cases, they were never appropriated throughout every tenure. So I went to seek Mr. President’s nod so that I will be able to terminate some of the projects that have stayed up to 10 years without any defined source of funding.”

He, however, lamented the current appropriation system for federal road projects, saying the piecemeal disbursement of funds to contractors is frustrating delivery, adding that he had already appealed to the President to engage with the National Assembly to prioritise projects.

Umahi, who also revealed that he had written the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) to release monies for the East-West Road, said: “I know that’s what the Rivers people mentioned when they came to see Mr. President. So that road is going to be on concrete.”

Dwelling on his tour of the all parts of the country, he said his attention would now be focused particularly on federal roads in Lagos State, including the ongoing work on Third Mainland Bridge, Carter Bridge, Liverpool Bridge, the Eko Bridge and Marine Bridge, adding: “I want to see things for myself and appraise the ongoing projects. I want to see who is doing a good job and who is doing a bad job. So I briefed Mr. President about that.”

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Obi: Lagos-Calabar coastal highway, not now, may take 20-30 years

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Presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), in the February 25, 2023 election on Monday, raised issues with the controversial Lagos-Calabar coastal highway awarded by the Federal Government to Hitech Construction, at the whopping amount of N13trillion, saying such a gigantic road project was not needed now at a time most of the Federal roads across the country are death-traps.

Obi, former Governor Peter Obi, who broke his silence for the first time over the project, since the news was first broken that the Federal Government had since awarded the contract, while acknowledging its potential benefits, expressed serious concerns about its pricing and raised questions regarding the timing and prioritization in the current Nigerian situation.

The LP boss, who highlighted the pressing issue of numerous uncompleted roads across the country, emphasising their role in economic growth and regional connectivity, maintained that the government should invest such huge resources to deal with the various roads across the country which were in various stages of disrepair, rather than plunging it into one road.

He listed critical roads in various zones, many of which have been under construction for several years due to poor funding and planning to include:

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  1. NORTH-WEST Abuja – Kaduna – Zaria – Kano Road, – Sokoto – Funtua – Zaria Road, Kano – Hadejia Road, Kano – Katsina Road , Zaria – Funtua – Shema – Tsafe – Gusau – Talata – Mafara – Sokoto Road , Kano – Kwanar – Danja – Hadejia Road
  2. NORTH-EAST Kano – Damaturu – Maiduguri Road – Mubi – Maiduguri Road, Nguru – Gashua – Bayamari Road, Gombe – Biu – Numan Road, Dikwa – Marte – Monguno Road, Potiskum – Fika – Bajoga – Gombe – Biu Road, Mayo Belwa – Jada – Ganye – Tongue Road, Tumu – Pindiga – Kashere – Bashar – Wase – Wamba – Nassarawa Road.
  3. NORTH-CENTRAL Abuja – Lokoja – Okene – Auchi – Benin Road, Ilorin – Jebba Road, Kabba – Omuaran Road, Suleja – Minna Road, Makurdi – Gboko – Yandev – Katsina-Ala Road, Buruku Bridge across Katsina River.
  4. SOUTH-WEST Lagos – Badagry Road, Ibadan – Ife – Ilesha – Osogbo Road, Itoikin – Ijebu Ode – Ibadan Road, Ibadan – Ilorin – Jebba – Mokwa – Bokani Junction Road, Abeokuta – Ibadan Road, Ikorodu – Shagamu Road, Ado – Igede – Aramoko – Itawure Road, Ajasse Ipo – Offa – Erinle – Osun State Border Road.
  5. SOUTH-EAST: 9th Mile – Oturkpo -Makurdi Road, Enugu – Port Harcourt Road, Onitsha – Awka — Enugu Road, Onitsha – Owerri – Umuahia Road, Bende – Arochukwu – Ohafia Road, Okigwe – Afikpo Road, Nsukka – Obollo Afor – Ehamafu – Nkalagu Road, Oba – Nnewi – Okija Road.
  6. SOUTH-SOUTH: Benin – Sapele – Warri Road, East – West Road, (Warri – Kaiama – Ahoada – Port Harcourt – Eket – Oron) Yenegoa Road, Junction – Kolo – Otuoke Road, Sapele – Agbor – Ewu Road, Benin – Akure – Ore – Ife Road, Ikot Ekpene – Aba – Owerri Road, Jattau – Fugar – Agenebode Road, Bodo – Bonny Road with Bridge across Opobo Channel, Port Harcourt – Onne Road, Agbor – Sakpoba – Ogharefe Road, Odukpani Junction – Itu – Ikot Ekpene – Umuahia Road.
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With the Federal Ministry of Works allocating a capital budget of N892 billion for 2024, in addition to funding from multilateral loan projects and other sources, Obi questioned the wisdom of embarking on another massive project that may not be completed for the next 20 or 30 years.

He warned against exacerbating the problem of abandoned, incomplete projects that do not contribute to economic growth, urging the prioritisation of existing uncompleted projects, while emphasising the need to allocate resources towards repairing and completing vital infrastructure.

The former governor, who stressed the importance of focusing on the urgent needs of the people and ensuring that investments serve the collective good of the nation, advocated for prioritising the completion and rehabilitation of existing infrastructure over embarking on colossal new projects with uncertain completion timelines, adding that fiscal discipline and strategic prioritisation in addressing the country’s infrastructure challenges, must be paramount to leaders of the country.

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Fubara, Rivers assembly return to trenches! Lawmakers override gov on LG laws

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The seemingly unabating schism between Siminalayi Fubara, Governor and members of the Rivers State House of Assembly, assumed another stage on Monday, with the lawmakers deciding to pass the local government Amendment Bill into law without the assent of the state governor,

The Assembly, in apparent defiance of the state High Court’s order directing the status quo on the issue of elongating the tenure of elected local government officials, which formed part of the amendment, went ahead to screen as well as confirm the chairman and other members of the Assembly Service Commission in the spirit of the new law.

Martins Wachukwu, spokesman of Martin Amaewhule, Speaker of the assembly, conveying the development in a statement, said the lawmakers made the decision at its 159th Legislative sitting held at the Assembly Quarters in Port Harcourt, which has since served as their sitting venue since the demolition of the main House of Assembly quarters by Fubara, last year.

Stating that Fubara declined assent to the Local Government (Amendment) Bill initially passed into law on March 13, 2024, by the House, the statement, said the lawmakers were bent on performing their constitutional duties and therefore decided to override the governor’s decision on the matter by a two-thirds majority.

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The statement read: “Determined to perform its Constitutional duties, the Bill was represented by the Majority Leader, Hon. Major Jack and debated upon by Members. Thereafter, the House in accordance with the provisions of Section 100(5) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as altered, which empowers the House to override the Governor, where he withholds his assent; the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Martin Amaewhule put the question, and with a two-thirds majority vote, the House agreed to override the Governor and passed the Bill into Law.”

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In another development, the House screened and confirmed nominees for the position of Chairman and Members of the Assembly Service Commission, including: Sampson Worlu as Chairman, Abinye Blessing Pepple, Blessing Belema Derefaka, Gbaranen Robinson, and Dorcas Amos as Members.

The statement recalled that on March 22, 2024, the House passed the Rivers State Assembly Service Commission (Amendment) Bill into Law, wherein the House donated back to itself the power to appoint the Chairman and Members of the Assembly Service Commission.

The statement added: “On a sad note, the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Amaewhule, announced the demise of Mr Lucky Amadi, the husband of the honourable Member for Obio/Akpor Constituency II, Hon. Emilia Lucky Amadi, and stated that Members would pay a condolence visit to their colleague.”

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BREAKING: Five days after sacking Ganduje, Kano judge reverses self

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Justice Usman Mallam Na’Abba, of the Kano State High Court, on Monday, reversed himself five days after making an order barring Abdullahi Ganduje National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), from parading himself or performing any official function in that capacity.

In vacating the order made ex-parte, following a plea by Haladu Gwanjo and Laminu Sani Barguma, who claimed to be the Chairman and Secretary of the APC Ganduje Ward in Dawakin Tofa Local Government area of the state, for the suspension of the former Governor of the state from his present job, Na’Abba said he relied on fresh arguments made on the matter.

The fresh applications were brought by Glory Adah, a litigation secretary at the law firm representing the APC boss in a motion ex-parte, accompanied by a 27-paragraph affidavit in support, and a written address dated April 22nd, countering the grounds of his previous orders.

Na’Abba, who adjourned the case to April 30 for the hearing, said: “An order of interim injunction is hereby granted staying the execution of the order of interim injunction contained in the ruling of this court delivered on 17h April 2024 directing parties to maintain status quo ante as at the 15th day of April 2024 in relation to the suspension of the 4th respondent/applicant from the 1st respondent by the Ganduje Ward Executive Committee pending the hearing and determination of the 4th respondent/applicant motion on notice.”

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