A day after the Lagos State governor accused the Federal Ministry of Works of frustrating some of his plans in Lagos State, the minister has replied.
In a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode accused the federal ministry of two things: failure to allow the state government rebuild the Oshodi road that leads to the Lagos Airport and failure to ensure the proper handover of the Presidential Lodge in Lagos to the state government as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
On Thursday, the Works minister, Babatunde Fashola, who is Mr. Ambode’s predecessor as Lagos governor, denied the allegations.
In a statement by his spokesperson, Hakeem Bello, Mr. Fashola said his “response is to ensure that members of the public are not misled by deliberate or inadvertent mis-statements” of the Lagos governor.
The minister explained that the request of the Lagos government to take over the Oshodi-airport road, as well as three other federal roads in the state, was still being discussed at the Federal Executive Council.
“Federal Executive Council Memorandum are debated and commented upon by all members and in cases of roads, surveys, maps and other material have to be provided to assist members to understand the location and connectivity of the roads, (in this case Four roads), in order to assist how they vote on the Memorandum,” Mr. Bello said.
On the presidential lodge, Mr. Fashola’s aide said it was currently being run by the presidency and that his ministry was working with relevant security officials for the handover.
“The Presidential Lodge is a high-security location, and officials of the Ministry also require security clearance to enter in order to do any works,” he said.
Mr. Bello, who listed some other areas the works ministry has cooperated with the Lagos government, then questioned his successor’s motive for the allegations.
“The motive behind these public accusations must, therefore, be scrutinized coming barely a week after the Governor spoke with the Honourable Minister, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN on the outstanding requests of the state for several minutes …”
Read the works minister’s full reaction below:
The attention of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing has been drawn to certain statements credited to the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode claiming that the “Federal Ministry of Works“ has been frustrating the efforts of his administration to carry out a “total reconstruction of the International Airport Road from Oshodi.”
The Governor also reportedly accused the “Federal Ministry of Works and Housing” and Security Services of denying the State Government access to the Presidential Lodge in Lagos six months after President Muhammadu Buhari approved it off for the State.
This response is to ensure that members of the public are not misled by deliberate or inadvertent misstatements.
The allegations of lack of cooperation from the Ministry and frustration of Lagos State Government development initiatives are simply not true and the facts do not bear them out.
In 2016, the Hon Minister for Power Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, approved the use of the Federal Ministry of Works yard at Oworonsoki for Lagos State Government to create a lay-by to ease traffic.
The Hon Minister also approved that Lagos State be granted the Rights to manage the Street Lighting on the 3rd Mainland Bridge to support the security initiatives of the State, a request which the previous Federal Government administration had denied Lagos State for years.
During the same year, the Hon Minister also supported the approval of the World Bank Loan of $200m to Lagos State, again a request the previous administration had denied Lagos State.
As far as International Airport Road which is currently the ground for alleged “frustration” is concerned, the correct position is that the Lagos State Government presented a request for FOUR roads that it would wish to take over.
This is consistent with the position being canvassed by the Hon Minister for States who are interested in applying to take over roads that are within their States.
The Ministry has presented the Memorandum conveying the request of the Lagos State Government to the Federal Executive Council as was done with a similar request by the Kaduna State Government in 2016.
Due to the fact that two of the roads also connect Ogun State, the Federal Executive Council could not reach an immediate decision on them because it requested the input of the other State Government affected.
The Kaduna State Government requested the Federal Government to transfer two roads within Kaduna Metropolis to the State in November 2015. Due process was followed, and the request of the State Government was approved in August 2016, a period of ten months.
Federal Executive Council Memorandum are debated and commented upon by all members, and in cases of roads, surveys, maps, and other material have to be provided to assist members to understand the location and connectivity of the roads, (in this case Four roads), in order to assist how they vote on the Memorandum.
As far as the Presidential Lodge is concerned, it is under the management of the Presidency and not the Ministry.
After the approval by Mr. President that the Presidential Lodge be handed over to the State Government, there was a directive to the Ministry to work out the modalities for handing over.
The Ministry has prepared a vesting instrument to convey the transfer, and all that is needed is a survey plan.
The Presidential Lodge is a high-security location and officials of the Ministry also require security clearance to enter in order to do any works.
Access to the lodge is not under the control of the Ministry.
The motive behind these public accusations must, therefore, be scrutinized coming a week barely after the Governor spoke with the Honourable Minister, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN on the outstanding requests of the State for several minutes and the Minister took the time to explain the situation of things to the Governor. (The first telephone conversation the Governor has had with the Minister since May 29, 2015).
If there is any lack of co-operation, it is on the part of the State Government that has refused to acknowledge not to talk of approving the Ministry’s request for Land of the National Housing Programme in Lagos.
The Ministry is not frustrated by this lack of response and remains optimistic that a response will come from Lagos State.
The Ministry remains committed to serving the Government and Good People of Lagos and will treat all their requests on Merit and in accordance with necessary due process as will be done to other States.
As far as the refund of N51Billion is concerned this is not a new item. Almost all if not all states have these claims and the Federal Ministry of Power Works and Housing has verified these claims.
What is left is the process of raising the finance to pay the Debt owed to the States.
Those who are familiar with the workings of Government will attest to the fact that it is a complex sequence of processes, consultation, and collaboration.
Equating processes to a lack of co-operation is, therefore, akin to creating a storm in a teacup.