The Federal government has approved the refund of over N78billion to the Rivers State government for the money spent on the construction of federal roads in the State.
The N78,953,067,518.29 is said to be for the construction of three Federal roads, including the Port Harcourt-Owerri road and three flyover bridges, including the Obiri-Ikwerre interchange, all in Rivers State.
The approval for the refund was made at the third virtual Federal Executive Council meeting at the State House, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.
This followed a memo presented by the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola.
The total funds approved for reimbursement to some state governments is N148,141,987,161.25, for 5 states.
The states include; Cross River (N18,394,737,608.85), Ondo (N7,822,147,577.08), Osun (N2,468,938,876.78), Bayelsa (N38,040,564,783.4 and Rivers (N78,953,067,518.29).
Briefing State House Correspondents, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said council had also warned that there will be no reimbursement in future should any state government venture into such projects without the nod of the government at the centre.
You will recall that in 2016, 36 states of the federation sent a very huge bill to the federal government, asking for compensation for money that they have expended on federal roads. This prompted Mr. President to set up a committee to go and verify the claims of these 36 states, whether indeed these projects were actually constructed, were they completed, in line with the Federal Government standards.
At the end of that exercise by an inter-ministerial committee chaired by the Minister of Works and Housing but also had ministers of Education, Transportation, Finance, Minister of State for Works, DG BPP and Permanent Secretary, Cabinet Office, as members.
“At the end of that exercise, the committee recommended that the Federal Government should refund N550,364,297.31bn to 31 of the 36 states, after they were convinced that, yes indeed, the projects were completed and there were federal roads. But the claims of five other states Cross River, Rivers, Ondo, Bayelsa and Osun failed on the grounds that they did not do proper documentation and the committee felt they needed proper documentation.
“So the committee went back with new terms of reference to ensure that the claims of the five states were in order, which is why the BPP is on the committee. So at the end of the exercise, the committee now reported that the five states – Cross River with 20 roads and one bridge will get a refund of N18,394,737,608.85, Ondo with six roads to get a refund of N7,822,147,577.08, and Osun with two roads and one bridge to get a refund of N2,468,938,876.78.
“Others are Bayelsa with five roads and one bridge is to get a refund of N38,040,564,783.40 and Rivers with three roads and three flyovers bridges is to get a refund of N78,953,067,518.29,” he said.