*Bayelsa Gov Decries Lack Of Federal Presence
The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), has praised Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri, for his administration’s infrastructure development strides.
Mr. Fashola gave the commendation on Tuesday during his courtesy visit to Government House, Yenagoa, after inspecting federal projects in the state.
A press release by Governor Diri’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, quoted the Minister as having applauded the Bayelsa governor for his state’s collaborative efforts with the federal government on projects sited in the state.
His words: “Bayelsa has clearly shown it is an example for other states to emulate in fast-tracking partnership between the federal and state government on issues of development. And I commend you.
“We found out that the cost of building foundation in Bayelsa is actually the cost of completing the entire building in some other parts of the country.”
Fashola, who also lauded the Bayelsa helmsman on his intervention on the resolution of compensation issues for the Yenagoa-Kolo-Otuoke-Bayelsa Palm federal road, noted that it has enabled the contractor cover 10 kilometres out of the 20 kilometres dual carriageway.
“At the federal secretariat, I saw some noticeable progress have been made and we assure that help is on the way for the federal workers.”
The Minister said he was in the state on a facility tour of some federal project sites with a view to assessing their level of progress.
He highlighted the federal secretariat, National Housing Programme phase one at Elebele, the Yenagoa-Otuoke-Bayelsa Palm road, and a state project, AIT-Igbogene outer ring road, as projects visited.
While noting that the federal government allowed states to develop at their own pace, Fashola said refunds had been made to states on federal roads between 1999 and 2015.
According to him, the first tranche of N447.783 billion was shared among 24 states between 2018 and 2019 while the second tranche of N148.141billion was approved for five states between 2019 and 2020 with N38.4 billion allocated to Bayelsa.
In his remarks, Senator Douye Diri thanked the Minister for his prompt response to the Nembe-Brass road project by expressing his willingness to tackle the project through tax relief.
Senator Diri, who also called on one of the major partners of the project, Nigeria Agip Oil Company, to explore ways of collaborating with the Ministry of Works towards executing the project.
He said although Bayelsa is endowed with the longest coastline in the country, such areas remain inaccessible and this has also made response to security challenges difficult.
According to him, “Bayelsa state has the least federal kilometres of roads in Nigeria. However, let me appreciate President Muhammadu Buhari for the infrastructure projects refund to the state. Let me however clarify that we received about N25billion instead of the N38.4 billion as the fund passed through the Debt Management Office and had to be discounted.”
Senator Diri noted that the Kolo road was conceived in the 1930s before the federal government awarded the contract in 2009 but that so far only 19.5 kilometre had been done with 33.5 kilometre left.
He therefore urged the federal government to partner with the state government in constructing critical roads to link the hinterlands as well as consider Bayelsa under a special scheme in view of its challenges of difficult terrain.
“We are the goose that lays the golden egg but we are ashamed considering the inventory of federal infrastructure in our state. We are prepared to put in our meagre resources to create the necessary infrastructure for our state,” he said.