Members of the Kaduna State Caucus in the House of Representatives on Thursday expressed grave concern over the inadequate funding of the Abuja-Kaduna-Kano federal highway and other major roads across the country.
The lawmakers, who expressed the concern during a press briefing on the urgent need to address the security threats along Abuja-Kaduna highway, lamented over the myriad of security challenges ravaging the country, which comes in form of militancy, insurgency and banditry, among others.
While responding to the question on the delay in the completion of the contract awarded for the reconstruction of Abuja-Kaduna-Kano federal highway, Hon. Tajudeen Abass argued that the delay was caused by the paucity of funds allocated for the project.
Hon. Abass observed that “the quantum of budget being given to Federal Ministry of Works could not permit them to be able to pay contractors what they require to be able to do that job once and for all.
“So the small envelope given to the ministry is split to all the various competing projects all over the country.
“And you know Julius Berger of today is not the Julius Berger of yesterday. They work for you based on what you pay them.
“If you give them x-naira, they work for that x-naira and stop there. Unless you make additional payment to them, they will not go beyond what you have paid to them.
“And that is what account for the slow pace, I think it is more or less the issue of paucity of funding.
“But we have been promised in the last interaction that we had with the Minister that come what may, 2023 is the deadline they have given themselves in ensuring that Abuja-Kaduna-Kano federal highway is completed.
“So let’s continue to pray that even the 2023 we will see the road being completed.
Speaking earlier, Hon. Garba Datti who led the Caucus called for urgent need to address the security threats along Abuja-Kaduna highway.
“The state of insecurity in Nigeria has been a matter of grave concern to all well-meaning patriots for several years now and that this has come in the form of militancy, insurgency and banditry, amongst others.
“This state of insecurity has severely affected travel on Nigerian roads as Nigerians have either opted to remain where they are or opt for means of transportation that are outside their means or convenience.
“Not so long ago, there were concerning incessant incidents of banditry along the Abuja-Kaduna Highway and measures were taken that appeared to have minimised the threat on that stretch of road. It was hoped that that would be the beginning of the end of the challenge of insecurity on our roads as it affected the entire country.
“Sadly, this has not been the case. Instead the phenomenon of banditry has steadily and increasingly found its way back to the Abuja-Kaduna highway.
“In the last five days, it has reached its deplorable and lamentable peak as a spate of attacks, killings, abductions, kidnappings and robberies has engulfed the Abuja-Kaduna Highway has resulted in a crisis of frightening and calamitous proportions.
“On Sunday 21st November, 2021, in the most publicised but certainly not the only one of such daring attacks over the last few days, a retired Director of Protocol of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) and a Governorship aspirant in Zamfara State, Hamidu Sagir was brutally killed while four are yet to be ascertained number of commuters were abducted in terrifying circumstances.
“This seemingly underestimated onslaught on our individual, collective and national security has continued unabated in spite of its seeming predictability. It is obvious that this should not be the case.
“There is no gainsaying the fact that security is one of the paramount policies of the current administration for which it has left no stone unturned towards neutralising the scourge.
“In addition, the Abuja-Kaduna highway is the critical gateway between the North and the South of Nigeria and the major link road to the North West and North East as well as to many neighbouring countries.
“Indeed, the Abuja Kaduna highway is the key outlet for the transportation of persons, goods and services across Nigeria and this is evident in the extraordinary traffic on it round the clock. For these and other reasons that cannot be accommodated in this statement, it is imperative that the secure state of the Abuja-Kaduna highway must be restored at once.
“Let us add that the perpetuation of this state of insecurity on the Abuja-Kaduna Highway as well as the many other highways in this country challenges the Nigerian State in terms of its obligations to Nigerians to guarantee the security and welfare of the people as the primary purpose of government pursuant to section 14(2b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
“Also, the killings and maiming on our highways severely infringe upon the right to life of Nigerians as guaranteed under section 33(1) of the Constitution.
“We must caution that the situation on the highways, particularly the Abuja-Kaduna Highway, if not immediately rectified, spells doom for the economy and the social life of Nigerians contrary to section 15(1) of the Constitution, which mandates the Nigerian State to ‘provide adequate facilities for and encourage free mobility of people, goods and services throughout’ Nigeria as well as section 41(1) which guarantees the right to freedom of movement throughout Nigeria to every Nigerian.
“We are worried that the sad consequence of this state of affairs is that this nation and Nigerians have lost a lot in human lives, financial resources, human dignity and citizen confidence as well as that the nation and Nigerians are at risk of losing substantially more,” Hon. Datti stressed.