By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Following controversy that trailed cut in the 2007 Federal allocation to the funding of Lagos-Ibadan Expressway project, Senator Gbenga Ashafa, representing Lagos East Senatorial District, yesterday, disclosed that both Executive and the National Assembly, NASS, are currently working on modality to ensure hitch free for accelerated completion of the project.
Ashafa, who is also the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Land Transport, made the disclosure during a Town Hall Meeting, distribution of various empowerment items to 50 senior citizens, free healthcare checks, as well as rendering of mid-term stewardship report of Lagos East Senatorial District, themed: “A message of gratitude.”
It will be recalled that Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, had criticized the National Assembly for slashing budgetary allocations meant for Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, along other important project like Second Niger Bridge.
He alleged that the lawmakers slashed the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and Second Niger Bridge from N31 billion to N10 billion and N15 billion to N10 billion respectively, whereas, the same lawmakers raised their budgetary allocation from N115 billion in 2016 to N125 billion in 2017.
Reacting to the development, the Senate asked Fashola to stop spreading wrong information and half-truth on the slashing of the vote to Lagos-Ibadan Expressway in the 2017 budget.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, said the legislators worked to ensure equity across the country on all new and outstanding projects, saying, “Even as of last year, the 2016 Appropriation Act voted N40bn for the project on the insistence of the Ministry and only N26bn was released.
“If we had known, the rest of N14bn could have been allocated to other critical roads across the country,” Abdullahi said.
Shedding more lights on the matter, Ashafa noted that Lagos Ibadan Expressway, no doubt a National asset of utmost importance, there was the need to ensure speedy completion of the repair works on going on the road which invariably will forestall the rate of accidents and further boost the economic potentials of the entire country.
The senator, who appreciated deep concern as expressed by residents and East Senatorial constituent, said he was not aware of any cut in the allocation to the Lagos Ibadan Expressway project prior to the passage of the 2017 budget.
According to Ashafa, “The Legislature and the Executive have reached a progressive solution which would ensure that there is no hindrance to the speedy completion of the project before the conclusion of the 2017 appropriation cycle.
“In order words, the National Assembly is committed to speedy passage of Supplementary Budget that would cover all affected projects, including Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, as soon as same is presented by the Executive.”
While assuring Ikorodu communities of their lives and property over the current insecurity in Ikorodu as a result of the activities of deadly cult group, called “Badoo” and spate of kidnappings in the area, Ashafa disclosed that the Senate had directed the Nigerian Police Force and other security agencies to beef up around Ikorodu and senatorial district, as well as operate aerial surveillance of the creek to further boost security.
Ashafa, who commended the people for the support received from the constituents so far, urged electorate to troop out en-masse to support and vote for candidates of All Progressives Congress, APC, during the Local Government elections, scheduled for next week Saturday, July 22, 2017.
He said, “By so doing, we would be able to harness the development we are witnessing in Lagos State at the grass-root level, through the synchronized effort of the state and local governments.”