Lagos Airport Road: Fashola Fires Back at Ambode

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By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Some hours ago, Lagos State Government, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, accused the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing headed by his predecessor, Mr Babatunde Fashola, of frustrating efforts of his administration to carry out a “total reconstruction of the International Airport Road from Oshodi.

Miffed by remarks of his successor, who is also a member of his ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the Minister released a statement, replying the Governor’s allegations.

In the statement signed by Special Adviser to the Minister on Communications, Mr Hakeem Bello, Mr Fashola said the allegations were false.

He said the allegations of lack of cooperation from the Ministry and frustration of Lagos State Government development initiatives were also simply not true.

According to him, in 2016, he approved the use of the Federal Ministry of works yard at Oworonsoki for Lagos State Government to create a lay-by to ease traffic.

The Minister further said he also approved that Lagos State be granted the rights to manage the street lighting on the 3rd Mainland Bridge to support the security initiatives of the state, a request he said the previous Federal Government administration had denied Lagos State for years.

During the same year, the Minister said he supported the approval of the World Bank Loan of $200 million to Lagos State, again a request he disclosed that the previous administration had denied the state.

“As far as International Airport Road which is currently the ground for alleged ‘frustration’ is concerned, the correct position is that the Lagos State government presented a request for four roads that it would wish to take over,” he said.

The statement noted that, “This is consistent with the position being canvassed by the Minister for states who are interested to apply to take over roads that are within their states.”

Mr Fashola said the Ministry has presented the memorandum conveying the request of the Lagos State government to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) as was done with a similar request by the Kaduna State Government in 2016.

“Due to the fact that two of the roads also connect Ogun State, the FEC could not reach an immediate decision on them because it requested the input of the other state government affected.

“The Kaduna State government requested the Federal Government to transfer two roads within Kaduna Metropolis to the state in November 2015. Due process was followed and the request of the state government was approved in August 2016, a period of 10 months.

“Federal Executive Council Memorandum are debated and commented upon by all members and in cases of roads, surveys, maps and other material have to be provided to assist members understand the location and connectivity of the roads, (in this case Four roads), in order to assist how they vote on the Memorandum.

“As far as the Presidential Lodge is concerned, it is under the management of the Presidency and not the Ministry.

“After the approval by Mr President that the Presidential Lodge can be handed over to the state government, there was a directive to the Ministry to work out the modalities for handing over.

“The Ministry has prepared a vesting instrument to convey the transfer and all that is needed is a survey plan.

“The Presidential Lodge is a high security location and officials of the Ministry also require security clearance to enter in order to do any works.

“Access to the lodge is not under the control of the Ministry,” Mr Fashola said in the statement.

The statement said, “The motive behind this public accusations must therefore be scrutinized coming barely a week after the Governor spoke with the Minister on the outstanding requests of the state for several minutes and the Minister took time to explain the situation of things to the Governor. (The first telephone conversation the Governor has had with the Minister since May 29, 2015).

“If there is any lack of co-operation it is on the part of the state government that has refused to acknowledge let alone approving the Ministry’s request for land of the National Housing Programme in Lagos.

“The Ministry is not frustrated by this lack of response and remains optimistic that a response will come from Lagos State.”

“The Ministry remains committed to serving the Government and Good People of Lagos and will treat all their requests on Merit and in accordance with necessary due process as will be done to other States,” the Minister assured.

“As far as the refund of N51 billion is concerned this is not a new item. Almost all if not all states have these claims and the Federal Ministry of Power Works and Housing has verified these claims. What is left is the process of raising the finance to pay the Debt owed to the States.

“Those who are familiar with the workings of Government will attest to the fact that it is an intricate sequence of processes, consultation and collaboration.

“Equating processes to a lack of co-operation is therefore akin to creating a storm in a tea cup,” the statement concluded.

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