REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY SENATOR ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI (CON), PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AT THE PUBLIC HEARING ORGANISED BY THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON WORKS ON THE FEDERAL ROADS AUTHORITY BILL, THE INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT COMMISION BILL AND THE MOTION ON THE NEED FOR THE ESTABLISHEMENT OF TOLL GATES ON OUR HIGHWAYS.
It gives me great pleasure to be with you today for the Public Hearing on:
A Bill For An Act to Repeal The Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (Establishment. Etc.) Act 2002 (As Amended) And To Establish The Federal Roads Authority To Promote A Safe And Efficient Management Of The Federal Roads Network And For Other Matters Connected Therewith; and
A Bill For An Act Provide For The Facilitation And Co-Ordination Of Public Infrastructure Development To Ensure That Infrastructure Development In The Country Is Given Priority In Planning, Approval And Implementation; To Ensure That The Development Goals Of The Country Are Promoted Through Infrastructure Development To Broaden The Scope Of Funding For Infrastructural Development And To Improve The Management Of Such Infrastructure During All Life-Cycle Phases, Including Planning, Approval, Implementation And Operations; And To Provide For Matters Incidental Thereto; And
A Motion on the Need For The Establishment Of Toll Gates On Our Federal Highways.
For us in the legislature, Public Hearings are very necessary to enable us incorporate the views and inputs of critical stakeholders and the general public into the legislature as a demonstration that the National Assembly not only belongs to the people but will also seek the most updated knowledge and information on matters before us especially Bills and Motions.
Public Hearings like this also gives us opportunity to receive inputs of the Executive agencies charged with the responsibility of ensuring the implementation of the Laws we passed here. This will ensure that any objections are frontloaded here and resolved rather than after its passage which usually results in gridlock and disruptions to national development and our democracy.
Nigeria has a total road network of nearly 200,0000km. of this the Federal roads constitute about 34,120km representing 17.6% while the rest belong to the states and local governments. However, the federal roads are our interstate highways that ensure that we can move goods and services to different parts of the country. Unfortunately, our federal roads are largely dilapidated and have been unable to serve effectively as economic artery on which the development of the country and general wellbeing of Nigerians must depend on for the most part. Apart from paucity of funds and poor implementation of the approved budget these past years there are many other challenges that has bedevilled its effective development.
Without a doubt, finance is very important. But since independence, the management of our federal roads has relied on a weak governance structure. It is an aberration that we have continued to rely on the Ministry, whose main responsibility ought to be policy design, formulation, monitoring and evaluation, to be the client, landlord and managers of our federal roads network. It is this anomaly that the Federal Roads Authority Bill is designed to address. Countries all over the world are rethinking their framework and creating more dynamic governance framework for managing their roads and the time has come for Nigeria to do the same.
The bills we have set out here for consideration are some of our most important bills. In terms of the economic impact, the importance of a good road network as the arterial architecture on which a modern economist must rely cannot be overemphasised. Today we have an opportunity to lay for ourselves and our for the generation to come a new foundation on which we can build a more enduring, resilient and effective road infrastructure base for the new Nigerian economy. The Federal Roads Authority Bill is one of the identified by the National Assembly Business Environment Roundtable (NASSBER) report as one of the bills that can have significant impact in reducing the cost of doing business in Nigeria and give our people the opportunity to make their enterprises prosper and create jobs.
The objectives of the National Integrated Infrastructure Coordinating Commission Bill 2016 are also reflective of global best practices. There is a need to have a high-level coordination of Nigeria’s infrastructure stock because of its great importance to our development as a nation. Our infrastructure deficit is wide and growing and there is a National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan. Yet, just as I said earlier on the roads sector, we do not have an institutional framework to bridge our infrastructure deficit in a holistic manner and implement the Master Plan. It is expected that National Integrated Infrastructure Coordinating Commission will assume that responsibility just as a similar Commission was established in South Africa and has been successful in closing their infrastructure gap.
There is also an important Motion on the Need for the Establishment of Toll Gates on our Federal Highways. The objective of the Motion is to study the Toll Gates policy on effective and efficient ways to implement the policy aimed at producing a holistic package to generate adequate funds for roads maintenance and its judicious utilization to restore confidence in Nigerians.
Today is really a momentous day in Nigeria’s infrastructure sector and I commend the Senate Committee on Works for organizing this Public Hearing. I urge all stakeholders present to make submissions that will add value to the Bills and Motion under consideration. I assure you that the 8th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is the people’s Senate and will continue to do our best to engage the Nigerian people on matters that have a direct impact on their welfare and progress.
I wish you very successful deliberations and I formally declare this Public Hearing open.
May God bless you and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.