The unbundling of the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing into two separate ministries: power and works and housing, has thrown bigger challenges for the returning Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, who is now faced with the timely completion of ongoing and abandoned projects across the country.
Daily Trust reports that the present administration at its inception in 2015 placed topmost priority to invest heavily on critical infrastructure with a target to do at least one road project per state.
Available data show that there are over 100 road projects scattered across the country that the administration is either constructing newly or has been rehabilitating since 2015.
Some of the ongoing major road projects the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed clear commitment to finish include the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Kano-Maiduguri Highway, Ilorin-Jebba Road, the Second Niger Bridge and the Abuja-Kano Expressway.
Also among the projects that will receive massive funding in the 2019 budget are the dualisation of the Makurdi-Enugu Road in Benue and Enugu states and the dualisation of Akwanga-Jos-Bauchi-Gombe Road in Nasarawa, Plateau, Bauchi and Gombe states.
Other ongoing critical road infrastructure that will get government’s attention this year include the construction of Bodo-Bonny Road, with a bridge across the Opobo Channel in Rivers State, dualisation of Ilorin-Jebba-Mokwa/Bokani Junction Road in Kwara and Niger states and the dualisation of Suleja-Minna Road Phase II in Niger.
Daily Trust findings also show that the rehabilitation of 73 kilometres single carriage- way stretching from Odukpani through Ikom to Ogoja in Cross River State flagged off earlier this year and completion of work on the Loko-Oweto Bridge over River Benue which connects Loko and Oweto communities in Nasarawa and Benue states respectively are other top priority projects.
In the housing sector, the minister will have his hands full on how to bridge the housing gap in the country, which experts estimate has claimed up to N20m despite all the efforts made so far.
The housing sector is expected to leverage on the upscaled funding captured in the 2019 budget which shows the government’s intention to pump in more money into the sector.
In 2019, government plans to spend N30.9bn on the construction/provision of housing under the Federal Government’s ongoing National Housing Programme nationwide compared to 2018 when less than N20bn was budgeted by the government.
Industry analysts say the separation of the power ministry from works and housing will allow the minister focus on delivering, especially the massive projects of the current administration.
Mr. Fashola has, however, reiterated the Federal Government’s commitment to the completion of all ongoing and abandoned projects across the country.
Speaking in Abuja when the management team of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FCMB) paid him a courtesy visit recently, Fashola said the policy direction of the present administration remained the completion of all ongoing and abandoned projects.
The minister who was responding to the remarks of the Board Chairman of FMBN, Dr. Adewale Adeeyo, on the uncompleted re-capitalisation of the bank, said the ministry would see that the process was completed as the government of the day placed importance on housing and consumers’ credit.
He said, “It is one of those areas of urgent focus by the president as a way of creating prosperity and as a way of enhancing the dignity of Nigerians.”
Fashola said a lot could be jointly done by the ministry and the bank in the actualisation of the Next Level agenda of Mr. President, assuring the bank of the ministry’s readiness to look at its projects that are ongoing and fashion out ways of completing them.