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President Goodluck Jonathan has given conditions under which the Federal Government will make refunds to states that fix or build federal roads.
He said such states must comply with the Due Process Law.
Jonathan spoke yesterday at the inauguration of WEMPCO Steel Mill Company Limited at Magboro, Ogun State. He was responding to remarks by the Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, that his efforts to develop the state were being hampered by some agents of the Federal Government who feel the state is interfering with its involvement in the maintenance and construction of some federal roads.
“I wish to state that Your Excellency would have visited the state more than the four times earlier mentioned if not for the fact that our investment drive is being greatly hampered by an embarrassing dichotomy called Federal and state roads,” Amosun said.
“However, we are being accused by agencies of the Federal Government for improving on the standard of roads in our state. What is more painful is that, these federal roads are very germane to our investment drive because, they link most of our industrial sites,” Amosun said.
The President, who arrived at the venue in a helicopter, escorted by two Air Force choppers, said there should be no controversy at all in any state or local government intervening in anything owned by the Federal Government. Anything owned by any arm of the government belongs to the people, Dr Jonathan said.
He went on: “I will emphasise that the ordinary Nigerian does not want to know whether it was the Federal Government, or the state that built a road. All that Nigerians want are good roads.
“But for us to pay, you must ensure that the procurement process must follow our due process law. So, those are the conditions. So, if you follow the due process, we can payback that part and you can pay the rest. But, assuming that you have enough money to fix the roads, then you don’t have to bother us with our procurement laws, you can go ahead and build the roads. We will never stop you from building the roads, but we will not refund any part because you did not follow our due process law.”
He said the government will release a blueprint to address the issue.
In his words: “But if some state governments want to give out federal roads to private persons for the purpose of tolling, we’ll say no. If the state governments have the money to build the roads for the people, we will give them the go ahead to do so.
“There is no reason the government will give the road to the states, and the states in turn will give it out to a private person. No, we will not accept that. But if you want us to refund some money, you can involve our Ministry of Works, then our due process guidelines must be followed. ” He said the government would come up with a clear blue -print on the issue.
The President praised Amosun for making Ogun State conducive for investment, adding that the government is working assiduously to bring the security challenges in the country under control.
He noted that the steel sector offers immense opportunity for the country, but observed that the potential has not been fully exploited.
No nation can industrialise without a vibrant iron and steel sector, the President said, adding that the government was working towards attaining three million metric tonnes of liquid steel by the end of this year and 12million metric tonnes by 2020.
Jonathan said the government was committed to ensuring that Nigeria becomes self-sufficient in steel production.
Amosun said Ogun State has attained the second position, nationwide in Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). He said from N700million monthly IGR 23 months ago, the state now generates about N3.9billion monthly IGR, making it second only to Lagos State.
He said: “Our administration will continue to give its unflinching support to serious investors by providing incentives needed for business to thrive. We have fast- tracked the process of land acquisition, registration and approval, which hitherto had been very difficult. Extension of infrastructure to industrial sites and the accompanying waivers can now be assessed at finger tips.”
The governor pleaded for collaboration between the state and industrialists who, he said, should complement the efforts of the state government through prompt payment of taxes and levies, assuring that the state, on its part, will continue to serve as a catalyst for industrial growth through the provision and improvement of infrastructural facilities which will generate profitable and competitive business for the benefit of stakeholders.
The Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the firm, Lewis S.N. Tung, listed Nigeria’s potential for steel development to include oil and gas, iron ore and coal, massive human resources and a huge market.
Tung said whatever deficit, machinery and technology can be easily sourced from outside.
At the event were Foreign Affairs Minister Ambassador Gbenga Ashiru; his Trade and Investment counterpart, Olusegun Aganga and his Iron and Steel counterpart, Musa Mohammed Sada, as well as the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Deng Bo Qing, and the GMD of Access Bank, Aigboje Aig-Imokhuede.
Many traditional rulers, including the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona and the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, were at the ceremony.