Ahmed Idris, Birnin Kebbi
Kebbi State Government has given a detailed explanation about its request for a refund of money for the federal roads project it executed.
Briefing newsmen in his office this Sunday, the Commissioner for Works and Transport, Alhaji Abubakar Chika Ladan said it has become necessary for the government to set the record straight to counter the misinformation, distortion, and disinformation bandied about by some persons including the Senator Representing Kebbi Central, Muhammadu Adamu Aliero who described the action of Kebbi State Government as “irresponsible” on the floor of the Senate.
The Commissioner explained that the two roads of which Kebbi State sought a refund of work done were the Dabai – Mahuta – Koko federal road route A. I and the Malando – Garin Baka – Ngaski – Warra federal road, route F. 201.
He said the 91-kilometer Dabai – Mahuta – Koko road was constructed between 2006 and 2011 at the cost of 5.07 billion Naira awarded by former Governor Muhammadu Adamu Aliero in 2006 but largely completed by former Governor Sa’idu Usman Nasamu Dakingari in 2011.
Furthermore, the 42-kilometer Malando – Garin Baka – Ngaski – Warra road was constructed by the administration of former Governor Sa’idu Dakingari along with 6 spans bridge (90m) at the cost of 2.2 billion Naira from 2008 – 2013.
Alhaji Chika Ladan explained that on the assumption of power in 2015, the incumbent administration discovered that the Federal Government was reimbursing State governments for federal roads constructed by them in their states.
Consequently, the Kebbi state government in 2016 directed the then commissioner for works, Alhaji Atiku Bunu to contact the federal ministry of works for a refund to the state on the two roads and three other roads constructed by the Atiku Bagudu administration totaling 10.08 billion Naira.
The Commissioner added that the records available showed that the Kebbi state government started engaging the federal government on refund for the Dabai – Mahuta – Koko road in 2011.
However, the Federal Ministry of Works only gave approval for a refund of the two roads which were constructed before 2015 when the federal government ordered the stoppage of construction of federal roads by state governments.
Alhaji Chika Ladan made it clear that approval for a refund was granted on 4th August 2020 for the two roads to the tune of 6.7 billion Naira for onward approval by the federal executive council which was granted on 7th September 2022.
Due to liquidity problems, the federal government sought the approval of the National Assembly to pay Kebbi state using a promissory note, now before the National Assembly for consideration.
The commissioner made it clear that Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu or any official of the Kebbi state government did not at any time claim to have constructed the two roads.
What the government did, was to pursue the right of Kebbi state for compensation like other states have done of which twenty-four states have already been reimbursed by the federal government with a total sum of 477 billion Naira.
The commissioner said the governor deserved commendation and support to secure what is due to Kebbi state.
Alhaji Chika Ladan informed journalists that in 2015 when the state government observed that the carriageway along Dabai – Koko road was failing, it awarded the contract for its rehabilitation at the cost of 258 million Naira but did not apply for compensation because work was carried out after the embargo by the federal government.
Moreover, Kebbi State Government has been putting pressure on the federal government to reconstruct the road and the contract has now been awarded at the cost of 19.1 billion Naira, expressing sincere gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for the kind gesture.
The commissioner responded to the issue that the Dabai – Koko road was not a federal road until 2019, which he described as far from the truth.
He announced that the government was in possession of records that showed that as far back as 24th August 2011, the Federal Ministry of Works awarded the contract for the engineering design of Dabai – Mahuta – Babban Dada road to Messrs Kabir and Associates from Katsina.
Alhaji Chika Ladan explained that what was done at a later date was to change the alignment to Koko instead of Babban Dada.
The commissioner added that another issue raised was whether the Kebbi state government responded to the invitation of the National Assembly to defend its claims.
Alhaji Chika Ladan said the two chambers of the National Assembly wrote separate letters to the state government to forward to them all relevant documents regarding the construction of the two roads.
The Senate sent its letter on 27th September 2022 while the House of Representatives sent its own on 29th September 2022.
He announced that thirty copies of two-volume reports were forwarded to the Senate while 15 copies of the same reports were sent to the House of Representatives before the expiration of the set deadline.
Alhaji Chika Ladan said on 6th October 2021 Kebbi state was invited by the National Assembly to meet with the Aids, Loans, and Debt Management Committees of the two chambers.
In his capacity as the Commissioner for Works, he led a four-member committee to the National Assembly where they were attended to by the House of Representatives and successfully presented their case which earned the approval of the whole house for reimbursement.
He explained that, at the Senate, the Chairman of the Committee directed the Kebbi state delegation to meet with the Clerk/Secretary of the Committee during which positive discussions were held and told to wait for further directives.
Ladan said on 13th October 2022, while at Birnin Kebbi, he received a letter through his WhatsApp at about twelve noon requiring them to appear before the Senate Committee by two P.M the same day.
As a result, he called the Clerk/Secretary of the Committee and informed her that there was no way they could make it to Abuja within two hours and requested another day to appear.
The Commissioner explained that it was the last they heard from the Senate only for the report on the floor of the red chamber to claim that they “failed” to appear before the committee.
Alhaji Chika Ladan was emphatic that as could be seen from what transpired, the government of Kebbi state has been very responsive to the request of the committee and not “irresponsible” as claimed elsewhere.
Happily, he announced that the delegation has now been given another chance and enough notice to appear before the committee on Wednesday, 30th November 2022.
The Commissioner for Works, on behalf of the government and people of Kebbi state, thanked the senate for its magnanimity, assuring it of full cooperation.
Alhaji Chika Ladan said it should be noted that all relevant documents required from the State have since been in possession of the committee.