OrderPaperToday – The Senate has invited the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, to explain the cost variation of major federal highways, tagged legacy projects.

The Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, the Managing Director of Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), Uche Orji, and the contractors handling the projects were also invited to appear before the Senate Committee on Finance in the next two weeks.

Some of the these legacy projects include Lagos – Ibadan Express Way, Second Niger Bridge and Abuja – Kano Expressway, etc.

They are funded and implemented through a tripartite agreement between the Ministries of Finance, Works and the NSIA.

Speaking during an interactive session with the NSIA on Tuesday, the Chairman
of the Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Olamilekan Adeola (APC, Lagos), noted that some issues particularly, funding of the road projects and cost variation require explanation.

He said: “On the issue of funding, by virtue of the information at my disposal and by what the Finance Minister made me to understand, is that you are playing critical roles by providing funds for the legacy projects.

“As of today, two years down the line, only $300 million is in the books as having been spent on the projects, this gives cause for concern.

“We believe that funding is critical to these projects. If the funding is not there, there is no way we can achieve those time-frame that you have set out for the completion of the projects.”

Responding, Orji told the Senate panel that the requested information should be sought from the concerned ministeries particularly because the questions are largely from situations that occurred before he assumed office.

He said: “Everyday we argue out the issue of variation because any slight change affects my budget because I have a number that I’m working towards. Any change in the scope of work is a problem to us.

“I can’t answer some of the questions that borders on variation and events that took place before I took over. We need to sit down with the active players in the historical contracts award preceding our entrance.”

Concluding the session, Olamilekan resolved that the invited persons should appear to clarify details about the project.

“On that note, we would be bringing on board the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Works and Housing, the Managing Director of the NSIA, the Accountant General of the Federation, and the contractors who should be invited by the Minister of Works.

“I know there are variations already but we want to know the value and the scope of works that the variation covers; we want to know it because we don’t have it. That is why we want to know the actual value for the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, for the Abuja-Kaduna-Kano and for the Second Niger bridge”, he said.

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