Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN), on Monday reviewed the activities and achievements of his Ministry in the last three years saying the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Administration has delivered visible results and recorded qualitative progress with the outcome that there was no state in Nigeria today where the Federal Government was not executing one project or the other.
Briefing newsmen on his Third Year Progress Report, Fashola, who recalled his first briefing on December 8, 2015 titled “Setting the Agenda for Delivering Change” in which he stated what he inherited, what he planned to do, and what Nigerians should expect, declared that with careful thinking, planning, and a dedicated team of public officers, the Ministry now has a firm foothold on its way to the top.
The Minister told the various news platforms as well as members of the public at the crowded press conference, “Our policies have shown what is possible with critical sectors recording growth. What remains is time that it takes for the full harvest of the fruits of our policies in plenitude and prosperity of our people”.
With regard to power, Fashola asserted that generation, which was at 4,000 MW in when he took over in the Ministry in 2015 has increased to 7,000 MW and transmission from 5,000 MW in 2015 to 7,000 MW while distribution has increased from 2,690 MW to 5,222 MW adding that although the work was clearly not finished, the Ministry was still in the process of delivering additional power to the grid.
According to him, the additional 215MW would come from the Kaduna Power Plant while 240MW would come from Afam IV, 40 MW from Kashimbila, 30 MW from Gurara, 29 MW from Dadin Kowa and a total of 3,750 MW from two big Hydro power plants in Zungeru (700MW) and Mambilla (3,050MW) while power is also programmed for nine universities and 15 markets across the country.
Also expected are transmission expansion from 90 transmission projects nationwide to boost the capacities of the Distribution Companies to distribute power across the country, the Minister said adding that some of the transmission substations recently completed included Apo, Mayo Belwa, Damaturu, Maiduguri, Odogunyan and Ejigbo substations.
According to him, while distribution is being boosted through over 100 injection sub-stations, a distribution expansion programme to be funded by the Federal Government was now in an advanced state of procurement adding that although there are still people yet to be reached and challenges due to disruptions from time to time and people who also needed meters “it is indisputable that we have delivered on incremental power”.
“The evidence of our progress is not only captured in the last quarter of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Report for Q2 of 2018 which shows a growth of 7.5 per cent in the electricity sector”, the Minister said adding that previous quarterly reports from 2017 had consistently recorded growth, which, he noted “is a clear departure from 2014-2015 and proof of change”.
Recalling that he promised in his inaugural address that it would not just be electricity by numbers but electricity that would be borne out by personal experiences, Fashola disclosed that the report of survey carried out by government and feedback mechanism put in place by it had confirmed that many Nigerians now have public power for longer hours compared to 2015 and run generators for shorter periods compared to 2015 while they now spend less money on diesel to power their generators.
“As some Citizens recently reported, they no longer have to iron all their clothes one week in advance as they previously used to do, because the supply is proving reliable and predictable even if not yet fully Stable and uninterrupted. This is progress that we must move forward by consolidating on our mandate of change. We cannot go back”, the Minister declared.
He said as the policies on Mini Grids, Meter Asset Provider, Eligible Customer, and liquidity sustenance and improved governance deepen, the experience with power supply could only get better adding, however, that the success of the plans now would depend on “energy users who must conserve energy when not needed”.
Relating to roads and bridges, Fashola, who also said progress report has confirmed the promise he made at inauguration had been fulfilled, declared, “We have recovered the thousands of jobs that were lost to public works. This recovery is the result of an expansive infrastructure spending that saw works budget grow from N18.132b in 2015 to N394b in 2018”.
“The outcome is that there is not one state in Nigeria today where the Federal Government is not executing at least one road project and construction workers are engaged on these sites”, he said adding that even difficult or abandoned projects like the 2nd Niger Bridge, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and the Bodo-Bonny Bridge have been brought back to life.
He noted that sections of Ilorin-Jebba, Sokoto to Jega, Sokoto-Ilela have been completed, “while progress of works continues nationwide from Jada to Mayo Belwa, Enugu to Port Harcourt, Lagos to Otta, Ikorodu to Shagamu, Benin to Okene, Lokoja to Abuja, Kano to Maiduguri, Abuja – Kaduna, Kano to mention a few”.
Fashola said apart from recovered construction jobs and growth in construction sector of the economy, the feedback from road users has shown that the journey times were reducing on the completed roads recalling a text message he received last week from a commuter reporting that he travelled from Warri to Lagos in Five and Half hours.
Noting that the foregoing represents a promise kept, Fashola, who recalled that the journey from Warri to Lagos used to take a whole day with people sometimes sleeping on the Road before President Buhari was elected, declared, “We cannot go back to that era. We are determined to move forward”. He added, “Although the work was not finished, but as long as we remain able to finance the projects, I have no doubt that it will get better”.
And supporting the assertions of the Minister, the Director Highways Planning and Development, Engineer Chukwunwike Uzo, said a total of 1262 roads were constructed and 885 roads were rehabilitated between 2016 and November 2018 while 79,378 persons were employed.
A breakdown of the figure showed that while 277 roads were constructed and 345 rehabilitated with 17,749 people employed in 2016, in 2017, 468 roads were constructed and 256 rehabilitated with 31,227 people employed in the process, while 497 roads were constructed and 284 rehabilitated while 30,402 people got employed
According to the Director, who made a contribution during the Question and Answer session, a total of N907, 628.118, 217 was budgeted for Works between 2016 and 2018 while a total of N499, 609,297,524 were disbursed to contractors during the period.
Pointing out that the intervention on roads did not stop on interstate highways, the Minister said his Ministry has also entered 14 Federal Universities where unattended internal roads were now receiving attention listing the institutions to include, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Federal University Oye, Ekiti, University of Benin, Federal University, Lafia, Federal University, Otuoke Bayelsa and Bayero University, Kano.
Others, according to him, are Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO), University of Maiduguri, Federal University, Lokoja, Federal Polytechnic Bauchi, Federal University, Gashua, Kaduna Polytechnic, Federal College of Education Katsina and University College Ibadan. According to him, “This is the First Phase under the 2017 Budget and we are preparing to do more under the 2018 Budget.
Noting that the intervention and nine Independent Power projects in Federal Universities was an investment in Education for the benefit of those who seek more funding for education, Fashola said while roads were being built, government was also attending to old or damaged bridges and restoring the value of maintenance.
While the Loko – Oweto Bridge was nearing completion, the damaged Tatabu Bridge linking Ilorin and Jebba had been reconstructed and the Tamburawa Bridge in Kano, the Isaac Boro Bridge in Rivers, Eko Bridge in Lagos and the Old Niger Bridge that links Anambra and Delta were receiving regular maintenance attention.
In Housing, the Minister said public buildings like the Federal Secretariats in Zamfara, Bayelsa, Nasarawa and Ekiti and the Zik Mausoleum in Onitsha had now been practically completed pointing out that the pilot National Housing Programme has led to a nationwide Housing Construction being undertaken in the 34 states where government had received land. “No less than 1,000 people are employed on each site apart from the staff of the successful contractors”, he said.
“These sites are an ecosystem of human enterprise, where artisans, vendors, suppliers and craftsmen converge to partake of opportunities and contribute to nation building. These are some of the most vulnerable people for whom President Buhari has delivered”, Fashola said adding parastatals like the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) and the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) were also contributing while policies like the reduction of equity contribution from 5% to 0% for those seeking mortgage loans of up to N5million, and reduction from 15% to 10% for those seeking loans over N5million were helping to ease access to housing.
According to the Minister, the Ministry is also tackling the backlog of issuance of consent and Certificates of Occupancy to Federal Government land” adding that a total of 1,216 Application for Consent to transfer interests in Land application and 1,300 Certificates of Occupancy have been approved and signed respectively as at 25th October 2018.
Fashola, who noted that as the year heads to an end, festivity, end of year activity and consequent movement of goods and services would put pressure on the roads nationwide, added, “Our Ember month planning committee, working with FRSC and FERMA have been meeting to prepare themselves to make your movement during this period as conducive as the circumstances will permit”.
According the Minister, “FRSC will deploy their personnel across the major transport corridors of the country during this period of heavy movement to help manage traffic. They have committed to setting up nine camps and 18 help areas across the zones to provide support and help to commuters in need”.
The Ministry’s staff, he also said, had identified 53 critical roads requiring intervention while construction is going on in order to move traffic and would be working with the contractors to provide relief gangs while the Ministry as also deploying the Zonal Directors to their zones of responsibility until the period of peak traffic subsides.
Wishing Nigerians a Happy Christmas in advance with a promise of pleasant travel time during the festivities, Fashola declared, “With careful thinking, planning, and a dedicated team of public officers, we have a firm foothold on our way to the top. Our policies have shown what is possible with critical sectors recording growth. What remains is time that it takes for the full harvest of the fruits of our policies in plenitude and prosperity of our people. We cannot go back to the bottom of the mountain when the plateau is now within reach”.