It is with great pleasure that I welcome all stakeholders and everyone here to today’s occasion, which is the “INVESTIGATIVE HEARING ON CLAIMS BY STATE GOVERNMENTS OF EXPENDITURE INCURRED ON REHABILITATION OF FEDERAL ROADS IN THEIR STATES” being jointly conducted by the House of Representatives Committees on Works and Finance.
- This Joint Investigative Hearing is pursuant to the House of Representatives resolution of Thursday, 26th November 2015, which specifically mandated the joint committee to, among others, “…..investigate claims by State Governments on the expenditure incurred in reconstructing Federal roads to determine their propriety, integrity of the construction work and other related matters….”
- The 1999 Constitution has provided for road matters in the Exclusive Legislative List, and there exist various legislations on the subject. Item 11 of the Exclusive Legislative List provides for “Construction, alteration and maintenance of such roads as may be declared by the National Assembly to be Federal Trunk Roads”.
In fact, the Second Schedule, Part II: Supplemental and interpretation, provides that:
“1. Where by this Schedule the National Assembly is required to designate any matter or thing or to make any declaration, it may do so either by an Act of the National Assembly or by a resolution passed by both Houses of the National Assembly”.
Existing legislation such as the Federal High Way Act, Cap F13, 35 of LFN, 2004 is also relevant to this public hearing.
- The Constitution thus, vested in the National Assembly, with exclusive power for the construction, alteration and maintenance of such roads as it may declare to be federal trunk roads. The National may exercise this power by resolution of both Houses of the National Assembly. Thus, the Executive may not be involved even in this declaration. The National Assembly may have delegated aspects of this power to the Executive by virtue of some existing laws, but it appears that the power to declare Federal Trunk Roads still exists in the National Assembly. This was the decision of the Lagos High Court in the case of Incorporated Trustees of All Nigeria Autobike Commercial Owners and Workers Association Vs Lagos State Government
In this case, Okada riders in Lagos argued that “the defendants (Lagos State Government) have no power whatsoever to make any law to regulate traffic on any of the Federal Trunk or highway roads listed in Schedule II to the Lagos State Road traffic Law, No. 2 of 2012 and in the Federal Highways Act, Cap F13, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004”
The Hon. Justice Aishat Opesanwo, held that the prerogative of designating federal trunk roads is “undeniably” that of the National Assembly. She declared: “Every trunk road is a highway, although every highway may not necessarily be a trunk road…I have neither been provided with nor directed to a provision where the National Assembly designates any road as a trunk road … I hold that there are no federal trunk roads”.
“Claimants also submitted that the roads are Federal Highways under the Federal Highway Act. It is a misconception and misrepresentation of the Act”.
This Public Hearing may in addition to its express mandate look into the procedure and process of declaring federal trunk roads and federal highways to conform with Constitutional provisions and make recommendations to the House.
- The road system in Nigerian is classified into four identified broad categories: The Federal Trunk ‘A’ Roads: These are under Federal Government ownership and they are developed and maintained by the Federal Government. The Federal Trunk ‘F’ Roads: These were formerly under state ownership, but were taken over by the Federal Government, with a view to upgrading them to Federal highway standards. The State Trunk ‘B’ Roads are under the ownership and management of the component states. The Local Government Trunk ‘C’ Roads: These are under Local Government ownership and management. Each tier of government has the responsibility for planning, construction and maintenance of the network of roads under its jurisdiction.
- It is important to note that most Federal Roads traversing the States are very strategic roads that link various communities and towns. Some are inter-state roads that are very vital to the economic and social wellbeing of the citizens resident in many states.
- When these roads are in dilapidated state, it brings a lot of pressure on the state governments that are responsive to the yearnings of their people, to act. As a result, some state governments are content to re-construct the roads even if they have no approvals from the Federal government. Some of the state governments actually sought and obtained approvals from the Federal Government to reconstruct exclusively federal trunk roads.
- You are all aware, that the National Assembly has exclusive Constitutional responsibility on matters in the Exclusive Legislative List under S.4 of the Constitution. The National Assembly also has power of oversight over federal government projects and MDA’s.
- The National Assembly’s powers of the purse entails the Executive can only incur expenditure as provided for by law.
It is thus within the province of the National Assembly to determine the amount to be appropriated for road projects and to oversight any MDA where monies are appropriated for roads. Furthermore, the National Assembly passed the Public Procurement Act of 2007 wherein the method and process of contract awards are stated.
- It is very relevant therefore to find out if state governments complied with the basic tenets and principles of the Public Procurement Act in the award of Federal road Projects within their states for which they seek a refund. Is there value for money for those contracts? Are those contracts awarded whimsically to conies and favoured companies without due process? Ordinarily, it is not the business of the Federal Government in a Federation, to get itself involved in how state governments conduct it procurement and award of contracts. But when you want the Federal government to re-imburse you, then the National Assembly as constitutional guardians of our commonwealth and patrimony, has a duty to ensure, that due process is followed and that there is value for money for the Nigerian people. This is the purpose of this public hearing and this is why the National Assembly is involved, in an otherwise state activity.
- I wish to call on the Joint Committee to carefully design a workable criteria for refund of such expenditures to State Governments that is in line with our extant laws, specifically, the Public Procurement Act of 2007, in addition to other requirements.
- The inability of the federal government to undertake the rehabilitation of the over 30,000 Kilometers of Federal roads despite the establishment of the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency in 2003 is treacable to paucity of funds resulting in the poor funding of the road sector.
- In view of the enormous responsibility of Federal Ministry of Works and it’s maintenance agency FERMA, it is necessary to look for alternative source of funding for the road sector. For the 8th Assembly, we look forward to the Executive to propose a comprehensive framework and an Executive Bill that will address all the issues in the sector. If the Executive fails to do so, private members bill will fill the gap.
- The bill, should encapsulate all necessary areas of alternative funding for the road sector including but not limited to BOT (Build Operate and Transfer) and all necessary models of BOT. It should also specify the areas of taxation that will bring in the required fund for the road sector.
- Finally, permit me at this juncture to congratulate the members of the House of Representatives for their unflinching and unwavering support and commitment to the provision of good governance to the people of Nigeria. It is my conviction that the leadership and membership of the Joint Committee will maintain a high standard of legislative service delivery in conducting this investigation.
- I invite you all today, to join me as I declare this Joint Investigative Hearing open.
- May God bless you all, and bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
- HON. DOGARA YAKUBU, SPEAKER, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, GAVE THIS SPEECH ON THE OCCASION OF THE JOINT INVESTIGATIVE HEARING ON THE CLAIMS BY STATE GOVERNMENTS OF EXPENDITURE INCURRED ON REHABILITATION OF FEDERAL ROADS HELD IN ROOM 231, NEW BUILDING, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, ON WEDNESDAY, 23RD MARCH, 2016.
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