From NDUKAIHE UGWU, Abuja
The Federal Government has handed over a N162, 557,000,000 SUKUK Bond cheque to Babatunde Raji Fashola, the Minister of Works and Housing, for the execution of major road projects across the country.
A symbolic cheque for the said amount was presented to Mr. Fashola by Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, at a ceremony in Abuja yesterday.
Speaking at the cheque presentation ceremony, Fashola commended the partnership between the government and the private sector in the provision of SUKUK financing for road projects across the country.
He said: “44 Federal Roads spread across the six geo-political zones are being financed under the SUKUK road projects (scheme).”
According to him, the roads being so financed, as per geographical zone, include eight in North Central, eight in North East, seven in North West, six in South West, five in South East and 10 South South.
Breaking down the financial implications for the projects, the Works and Housing Minister said the projects in North Central would gulp N26.5b, North East N30.5b, North West N26.5b, South East N26b, South South N26b and South West N27.05b.
Speaking on the recent public debate on government borrowing and the concerns being raised by Nigerians, Fashola explained that, with the Sukuk projects distribution, Nigerians would now see where and how the monies are being spent.
Fashola, who sounded excited by the SUKUK bond road projects explained that the economic benefits of road projects to the people couldn’t easily be quantified, noting that such projects had always come with a lot of jobs for labourers, artisans, building materials and sand suppliers, farmers as well as food vendors who make their daily earnings from the construction sides.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has been legitimately distributing wealth through investment in road infrastructure and the 100 million Nigerians he would take out of poverty in a decade would be achieved,” the Minister enthused.
In her remarks, the Minister of Finance Zainab Ahmed said one of the key pillars of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) is the development of critical infrastructure with a view to removing impediments to growth and development in the economy.
She explained that the President through the annual budgets had prioritized capital expenditure on the development of roads, rail, power and agriculture infrastructures in the country.
She stated that the N162, 557,000,000 released to the Ministry of Works signified the 100 per cent full deployment of the total amount raised by the Debt Management Office (DMO), dedicated to road projects
The Director General Debt Management Office (DMO), Dr. Patience Monica said the released N162, 557,000,000 was the third and final release of the SUKUK secured financing for road project out of the total N462, 5577,000,000 raised by the DMO.
Chairmen of relevant National Assembly Committees that attended the symbolic public presentation of the cheque included: Committees on Works and that of Aids, local and foreign debts of both chambers (Senate and House of Representatives.
In separate remarks, the Chairmen Senate Committee on Works, Senator Adamu Alieru and his counterpart in the House of Representatives, Honourable Kabiru Bichi expressed satisfaction with the zeal to work demonstrated by the Minister of Works and Housing and the quality of work done by the contractors and promised that the National Assembly would collaborate fully with the Executive to ensure that Nigerians enjoy good quality roads.
Responding on behalf of the Contractors, the Managing Director of Reynolds Construction Company, (RCC) Nigeria Limited, Engr. Nabeel Esawi, appreciated the effort of the government in promoting road projectss financing through SUKUK.
He promised government that with this positive development of funding, contractors would take full advantage of the coming dry season to achieve more and recover the time they had lost as a result of COVID 19 lock down.
“SUKUK is gradually changing the face of Nigerian road to the better. Our bulldozers and machineries will speak for us, ” he declared.