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Why presidency needs to reconsider road reform bills -Rep

  Toby Okechukwu, deputy minority leader of the house of representatives, says Nigeria needs a legal framework to aid massive road developme...

 

Toby Okechukwu, deputy minority leader of the house of representatives, says Nigeria needs a legal framework to aid massive road development in the country.

 

Okechukwu said this on Wednesday when Rabiu Ali, president of the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), conferred on him an honorary fellowship of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), in Abuja.

 

In 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari declined assent to the Federal Roads Authority (Establishment) Bill and the National Road Fund Bill.

 

The proposed legislations, among other things, sought to establish the roads fund, which shall be a repository for revenues accruing from road user charging systems and other sources for the purpose of financing road maintenance.

 

Speaking on Wednesday, the legislator said the bills should be reintroduced and signed into law to facilitate road development in the country.

 

“I am happy that the NSE placed me at the top of their professional calling and reward system,” the lawmaker said.

 

“On a serious note, engineering crisscrosses our lives. It controls 90 percent of our lives. If we neglect or ignore engineering, we do so at our peril.

 

 “When we came in as a committee of works, we were able to diagnose the challenges in the industry, capacity, personnel issues, and how the profession is practised.

 

“That was how we came up with the idea of amending the COREN Act. We also diagnosed funding issues regarding road construction and maintenance, and we came up with road fund bills.

 

“We also dealt with the issue of organisational structure of that outfit that will maintain and develop roads. We also came up with the idea of roads authority bill.

 

“Those bills passed all through the platforms of the national assembly — in the house and in the senate. It was transmitted to Mr President.

 

 “Unfortunately, we were not on the same page or they could not be up to speed regarding approving it. Luckily, the COREN bill passed and it’s now an act of the parliament and I am happy that you are here to follow it up.

 

“So, it is our prayer that the roads fund bill and roads authority bill should be paid attention to.

 

“There is no way you can develop growth in this country without dealing with the issue of reforms in the system and those acts were meant to cure that. So, I am really happy that at least one is down, then, the other two to go. We must follow up the activism and the pressure from the press has to be momentous.

 

“Anybody who tells you that road construction in this country can get any golden era without those road reform bills passed into law or without Mr President signing it is joking.

 

 “Nobody is the problem of roads in Nigeria. It is the method and plan we have for it. So, the earlier we deal with it, the better; and NSE is at the forefront.

 

“If the practice for construction work is going well, our people will blossom. There isn’t any problem. It’s not because of incompetent contractors; nobody is taking your money. Unless you have asphalted, nobody is going to give you any penny.

 

 “But they are not in a position to do so because it is not funded. So, I wanted to use this opportunity to make that point. I appreciate deeply what you have done. I will also follow up to make sure the profession gets the necessary momentum it is supposed to get.”

 

In his remarks, Ali said the fellowship was conferred on Okechukwu because he “worked so assiduously” for the COREN bill to be passed by the House of Representatives.

 

 “You did not only stop there. You escalated the bill to the senate and used your position as chairman to impress upon your colleagues in the senate to get the bill passed. And it was passed by the two houses of the national assembly and it went to the president for assent,” he added.


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