The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), says contractors will resume work on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway next week.
Fashola, who spoke at the inaugural Buharimeter Town Hall meeting in Abuja on Thursday, said contractors had abandoned several projects because the last administration owed them money.
The former governor of Lagos State said even though the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration had yet to release funds to the contractors, they were willing to return to site because they trusted the integrity of the new government.
Fashola stated, “In 2014, we spent N45bn on roads for the whole country and we spent N18bn on roads in 2015. Now, the fallout of meetings with our contractors generally is that they have not been paid for three years but budgets were made for the last three years.
“We have been having meetings with some contractors on the basis of our credibility, our collective integrity, saying to them go back to site.
“Our contractors will go back to site on Monday next week; they have told me they will return to the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
“They have not been paid but that is what change means, that this government is credible and believable. If we say we will pay, we will pay. And this is what you will see in places like Iheala and a few other places where we are intervening but what is important now is that we have met with all our contractors and identified contracts that have survived the budget, we have approved those contracts for funding and in the next few days to weeks, the disbursement will start for many of the roads.”
Fashola, however, lamented that the activities of the Niger Delta Avengers were seriously affecting power generation due to the vandalism of oil and gas installations.
He said for Nigeria to be better, citizens must protect government installations like it was done in other countries, stating that the newly constructed railway was already being vandalised.
“The Minister of Transportation (Rotimi Amaechi) just told me that vandals were removing nuts and rails for railway,” Fashola said.
Also speaking, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, said several states had made land available for cattle ranching.
Ogbeh said the cattle ranching programme would start soon, adding that the move would improve animal farming across the country.
He explained that milk production was very low in Nigerian livestock because cows were often dehydrated after walking long distances across the country and not getting enough water and quality grass, noting that with the ranching programme, things would improve.
The minister added, “We want to end the cattle grazing ‘wahala’ between herdsmen and farmers. We have 45 million hectares of land and there is no reason why there should be any fight over where grass is grown, but ladies and gentlemen, grass is not just grass. If the grass does not have up to 15 per cent protein, amino acids and trace elements, it is not good for even a cow to eat, and make no mistakes, the food that cows eat passes unto human beings through meat and milk.
“So, if you give them high quality grass and water, when you eat beef, you are eating good quality food. If not, you’re eating chaff. Finally, when the cows march from Maiduguri to Lagos, the distance is too long. So, the cows in Nigeria have the lowest yield of milk in the world, one litre per day, four months per lactation, because the cows have no access to water.”
Ogbeh said the Federal Government was already having talks with the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps to train rangers that would fight cattle rustlers and monitor ranches.
“Banditry, rustling and attacks on farmers are increasing. We are looking at asking a unit of the civil defence to train what we are going to call farm rangers to protect investment in livestock and heavy investments in agriculture. We do not intend to invite you to invest in a ranch and come one day to hear that all your cattle were taken away by rustlers in the middle of the night,” the minister stated.
The Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, assured Nigerians that the Buhari-led administration would not renege on its promises.
He admitted that he might have made too many promises during the build-up to the last election after he was told by the Director of Centre for Democracy and Development, Idayat Hassan, that the All Progressives Congress made 221 promises during the campaign.
Other ministers present were the Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed, and the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma.