The Federal Government has approved N32 billion to repair dilapidated roads across the country in the New Year, it was learnt on Monday.
The Chairman of House Committee on Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA), Femi Bamisile disclosed the news in Omuo-Ekiti, headquarters of Ekiti East Local Government Area of Ekiti State.
The lawmaker spoke at the distribution of rice and cash gifts to his constituents ahead of the Christmas and New Year’s festivities.
Bamisile said the fund for the agency to deliver its mandate was increased from N22 billion to N32 billion as deplorable Federal roads increased to over 75 per cent across the country.
“The sum of N22 billion was approved when the Executive brought the Bill but we protested and made it clear that 75 per cent of our roads are bad. So, President Muhammadu Buhari increased the fund to N32 billion.
“Though FERMA is for Nigeria, I will ensure that Ekiti is not cheated. Only N30 million was earmarked for the rehabilitation of Ifaki-Omuo highway in 2019. But with my intervention, it has been jacked up to N870 million because of my insistence that Ekiti should not be neglected like before.
“We will definitely bring democracy gains to our people. It is going to be better next year. The collapsed Erio Bridge is almost completed. The government spent over N100 million to fix the portion.”
The lawmaker, who is representing Ekiti South Federal Constituency II, explained that a Bill pending before the Senate on FERMA was not targeted at scrapping the agency.
He said the Bill, which had passed through the second reading at the Upper Chamber, was intended to make FERMA more financially independent to discharge its duty.
Bamisile said the clarification became imperative following reports that a Bill pending at the Senate to scrap road maintenance agency had scaled the second reading hurdles.
He said: “The Senate won’t scrap FERMA. What they are trying to do is to change the name and remove it permanently from the Ministry of Works. They want to make it independent.
“We, in the committee of FERMA, watched the first and second readings. We realised that they want to excise the agency from the Ministry of Works to make it truly independent to be able to serve the people.
“At the last stage, the name will change from FERMA and all the stakeholders will be called to make contributions on how best to run the agency. This is because Nigerian roads are bad and the agency needs over N1 trillion to fix the roads and the Federal Government can’t afford that.
“The independence will make it possible to bring in other stakeholders and private organisations to fund road maintenance projects in our country.”
Defending the rationale behind President Muhammadu Buhari’s intention to borrow $30 billion to fund the 2020 Appropriation Bill, Bamisile said the approval of the loan would enable government funds some of the projects in the budget plan.