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Benin-Auchi-Okene-Obajana road project is hindered by lack of funds – Agba



Prince Clem Agba, the former Minister of State for National Planning, recently discussed the ongoing issue surrounding the Benin-Auchi-Okene-Obajana Road during an event held in his honor by the Edo State Council of the Nigerian Union of Journalists. According to Agba, the primary reason for the road’s incomplete status is the insufficient funds allocated to the project.

In his address, Agba highlighted the recurring problem of allocating budgetary resources for infrastructure projects, including the Benin-Auchi-Okene-Obajana Road. He emphasized that the funds available for these projects are often spread thinly across multiple initiatives, making it difficult to secure the necessary funding for any single project.

Furthermore, Agba pointed out that the situation is exacerbated by changes made by the National Assembly to the budget. These changes often involve reallocating funds from existing projects to fund new ones, further complicating the funding challenges faced by critical infrastructure projects like the Benin-Auchi-Okene-Obajana Road.

What he said

In his words,

  • With the national budget, there had been a lot of challenges.  Yes, there have been improvements in terms of the cycle, but particularly as a person, I am not very happy with the content because we seem to spread ourselves so thin that we don’t have enough to do work.
  • “I hear people say that the National Assembly passed the budget. I wish they pad the budget because what they are doing is un-padding the budget.  If they pad the budget, that means they are putting more money into it, right?
  • ‘’And, so, you have more money to work? Right? But what they are doing is that they are removing from what has been provided and then creating other projects, making us spread too thin, and not having enough money to work.
  • “This is one of the things that affected the Benin-Auchi-Okene-Obajana road, which started 15 years ago.  Have I been a minister for fifteen years? I was only minister for three and a half years, yet I was the cause of the problem on that road because I tried to offer a solution.
  • “I found out that the problem of that road was insufficient funding, and each time budgetary provisions are made, our representatives from the State do not protect what is there.
  • So, when the budget comes back, the amounts are lower and insufficient to do the work.
  • “We started with trying to use SUKUK funding, which is the Islamic interest-free loan to do it.  But with that, we had to spread the amount across the country, and I realized we moved very fast with the second Niger Bridge; we moved very fast with the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, and we also moved very fast with the Kano-Kaduna Road.”

Agba mentioned that a presidential infrastructure development fund and a sovereign wealth fund were providing financial support for these projects, and any funds recovered from corruption cases, such as those related to Abacha loot, were being directed towards the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, second Niger Bridge, and Kano-Kaduna Road projects.

Agba revealed that there are three sections of the Benin-Auchi-Okene-Obajana road handled by three different contractors have remained incomplete for the last fifteen years because of the lack of funds for the project.

Agba’s contribution to lobbying for funding of the Benin-Auchi-Okene-Obagana road

Speaking on his contributions towards fast-tracking the work on the road, Agba disclosed that he had approached the minister of Works proposing the use of tax credits. He added that he and the minister of Works during his time had spoken to the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and initiated discussions with NNPC Ltd,

Agba, however, disclosed that the NNPC Ltd report did not initially encompass the Benin-Auchi-Okene-Obajana road, which he admitted was a substantial challenge he faced advocating for Edo State’s inclusion.

He concluded in his speech that his contribution in lobbying for funding for the road yielded positive results as each of the uncompleted sections on the Benin-Auchi-Okene-Obajana road ultimately got N25 billion. He added that he secured an additional N10 billion in the 2023 budget for two sections.

His words:

  • “So, I approached my colleague, the minister of Works, on the need for us to use the tax credits and we spoke to the Chairman of the FIRS and he started working with the NNPC Ltd on this.  But the NNPC Ltd report, I must say, did not include that road.  So, it was a big battle for me to ensure that Edo State was included.
  • “I want to especially thank my two colleagues and brothers (Mr Sunday Dare and Prince Goddy Jeddy Agba) who are here because they joined me in that fight and in the lobby to get funding for it.  In the end, each section got an approval of N25 billion, which means N75 billion, and I was also able to get another N10 billion in budget 2023 for two sections.