Nigeria needs N10 trillion infrastructure bond – Fashola

Former Lagos state governor, Babatunde Fashola
Nigeria’s Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola. [PHOTO CREDIT: Energy Mix Report]

The immediate past Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has called for the introduction of a N10 trillion infrastructure bond.

He made the call on Monday when he was being screened by the Senate.

Mr Fashola was the first ministerial nominee to be screened on Monday. Over two dozen nominees, of the 43 sent by President Muhammadu Buhari, had been screened last week by the lawmakers.

The former Lagos governor, who complained of the paucity of funds for infrastructure projects, said the only way to address the infrastructural challenges facing Nigeria was through the introduction of an infrastructure bond.

He recommended that the bond be backed by legislative instrument and that people should be able to invest as low as N1,000.

“The common problem with roads is always funding. We were forced to make choices. In the last three years, our resources are not enough to fund our expenditure.

“There is some opportunity to expand instrument like the Sukuk. We should consider something like a 10 trillion infrastructural bond issued in tranches to fund infrastructure and people can invest to address infrastructural challenges,” he said.

The former Lagos State governor explained that the federal government has been operating a budget deficit due to the paucity of funds. Despite the insufficient funds, however, the government has at least one road project in each state of the federation.

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He said the ministry was “working on a drainage solution” until he left office as the problem with many existing roads is that there is “currently no drain to take out water.”

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Achievements

During the screening, Mr Fashola said from what he inherited in 2015, his administration left the ministry much better than they met it.

“In power sector, we set out to achieve incremental power. Whilst managing the grid, we moved from on-grid power to off-grid power. Nigerians are now benefitting from off-grid power.

“We deployed independent power to our Nigerian universities. We have commenced in nine universities at a first phase and they are at various places of implementation,” he said.

On works, he said there was no state where they had not executed one federal road.

“Resources were scarce and demand high but it forced us to make choices… We prioritise the roads such as roads with greatest traffic, roads that decongested and provided access to ports, roads to our fuel depots, roads that evacuated goods for agricultural prolific areas, roads funded by counterpart funding, roads inside universities’ and we are intervening in 14 universities.

“We have successfully started the road linking up to Cameroon, we started maintenance of bridges.”

Housing

On housing, the nominee disclosed that housing projects are ongoing in 34 of Nigeria’s 36 states.

He said the ministry conducted a survey to understand the needs of Nigerians.

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“While northerners wanted bungalow and huts at the back, southerners went for flats but there was a consensus of taking one or two-bedrooms. We were making correction without compromising standards,” he said.

Insurgency responsible for poor infrastructure in North East

When asked why there were few projects in the North-eastern part of Nigeria, Mr Fashola blamed it on insurgency in the area.

He said contractors who work there are leaving because of insecurity.

“…some of our own military even blow up the infrastructure as a strategy for defence. Those who fight wars don’t care about infrastructure,” he said.

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