Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA), Femi Bamisile has refuted claims that a bill before the National Assembly was targeted at scrapping the agency. Bamisile, who represents Ekiti South Federal Constituency II, said the bill, which had passed through the second reading at the Senate, was intended to strengthen FERMA and make more financially independent to discharge its duty.
He stated this yesterday at Omuo-Ekiti, headquarters of Ekiti East Council Area of Ekiti State while distributing gift items to teachers, retirees, and local government employees to mark the Christmas and New Year celebrations.He stressed that the clarification became imperative following reports that a bill in the Senate seeking to scrap FERMA had scaled the second reading.
His words: “The Senate won’t scrap FERMA. What they are trying to do is to change the name and remove it permanently from the Ministry of Works and make it independent.“We in the FERMA Committee watched the first and second readings. We realised that they want to remove the agency from the Ministry of Works to make it truly independent to enable it to serve the people better.
“At the last stage, the name will change from FERMA and all stakeholders will be engaged to make contributions on how best to run the agency, because Nigerian roads are bad and the agency needs over N1 trillion to fix the roads and the Federal Government can’t afford that.“Its independence will make it possible to bring in other stakeholders and private organisations to fund road maintenance projects in the country.”
Bamisile added that the Federal Government has approved N32b for rehabilitation of roads in the six geopolitical zones of the country during the dry season.He said, “N22b was approved when the executive brought the bill, but we protested against it and made it clear that 75 per cent of the nation’s roads are bad. So, President Muhammadu Buhari increased the fund to N32b.
“Although FERMA is for the entire, I will ensure that Ekiti is not shortchanged. Only N30m was earmarked for the rehabilitation of Ifaki-Omuo highway in 2019, but with my intervention, it has been raised to N870m because of my insistence that Ekiti should not be neglected as before.
“The roads will better off next year. The collapsed Erio Bridge is almost completed. The government spent over N100m to fix the portion.”On President Buhari’s request to borrow $29.6b to fund the 2020 appropriation law, he said, “Even the world power like America used to borrow money. Today, America is the largest debtor in the world.”He commended Governor Kayode Fayemi for awarding the Ode-Isinbode-Ode Road, assuring that the contractor will begin work soon after mobilisation.Bamisile stated that the Federal College of Education approved for Omuo-Ekiti will soon commence operation, saying the project was being stalled due to lack of funds.