Federal roads rehabilitation has swallowed N621b; NUPENG alleges misappropriation

“This is an open day robbery, but we are assuring all and sundry, that our Union will go to all lengths to expose these unscrupulous individuals.

Amidst the growing fuel scarcity in the country, a face-off appears imminent between the Federal Ministry of Works, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited and the Petroleum Tanker Drivers Branch of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) that could complicate petroleum products distribution in the country.

The NUPENG on Wednesday accused the Federal Government of reneging on its promise to rehabilitate 21 critical federal roads across the country. It accused certain agencies of the Federal Government of lack of sincerity in implementing the agreement reached last October.

Addressing newsmen, the National Chairman of the PTD Branch of NUPENG, Comrade Salimon Akanni Oladiti alleged that information available to his union revealed that the fund in the estimate of N621billion through the Road Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme for the rehabilitation of the 21 federal roads, were already being depleted.

He pointed fingers of scorn at those he called “some vultures in the garbs of being state governments, officials of Ministry of Works and Housing and politicians are already depleting these funds and misappropriating them on roads and projects not intended in the agreement as approved by the Federal Executive Council.”

Investigations revealed that following the ultimatum issued by the PTD Branch of NUPENG demanding for the fixing of certain federal roads, an agreement was signed last October between the top officials of NUPENG, the management of the NNPC led by its Group Executive Director, Downstream, Engineer Adeyemi Adetunji and the leadership of the National Association of Road Transport Owners NARTO.

In the communiqué, the NNPC unveiled the plan to “finance the rehabilitation of the critical roads through the Road Infrastructures Tax Credit Scheme in collaboration with Federal Ministry of Works and Housing and the Federal Inland Revenue Services to repair sixteen road segments at an estimated sum of N621billion.”

Comrade Oladiti expressed disaffection over the indifference of the federal government agencies to the agreement signed where critical Stakeholders were in attendance, including FIRS, FRSC, Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, Nigeria Association of Road Transport Owners and the Union.

He further expressed concern that while his union members, particularly tanker drivers continued to be at the receiving end of fatal accidents and attacks from bandits on the bad roads, no one is giving information on when the roads would be fixed despite the huge fund allocated for the rehabilitation.

“We’re tired of accidents, being stranded on the roads for weeks, risk of attacks by kidnappers, bandits and terrorists. These criminals have taken over some of these roads. We’ve been on this matter of bad roads for more than three years and last year, we reached an agreement with the NNPC which promised to rehabilitate these critical roads and earmarked N621 billion for it. Some of these roads are less than 25km in length. Tanker crashes were almost a daily occurrence. Security challenges on these roads can’t be overemphasised.

“You will also recall, that to avert the situation of industrial action of the Union, the management of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation apprehended the situation by calling the leadership of the Union for two separate meetings on the 10th of October 2021 in Ibadan and 12th October 2021 in Abuja.

“All critical Stakeholders were at these meetings, including FIRS, FRSC, Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, Nigeria Association of Road Transport Owners and the Union.

“These two meetings resulted in the signing of communique indicating the readiness and willingness of NNPC to finance the rehabilitation of identified 21 critical roads at an estimated sum of N621 billion through the Road Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme.

“On the basis of this communiqué, we suspended the intended industrial action but with a very clear warning, that should the spirit and letter of the agreement not fully implemented with a focus on those jointly identified critical roads, the Union will not hesitate to resume the intended actions without further warning.

“To the delight of all of us, the issue was tabled before the Federal Executive Council and was expressly approved within two weeks as agreed.

“Unfortunately, and to our greatest shocks, we heard it from very reliable sources that some vultures in the garbs of being state governments, officials of Ministry of Works and Housing and politicians are already depleting these funds and misappropriating them on roads and projects not intended in the agreement as approved by the Federal Executive Council.

“Every kobo of the approved fund must be accounted for and we must see and broadcast the pre and post-rehabilitation of all the identified 21 federal roads to the whole nation. Tax payers’ money must be accounted for. We urge every patriotic Nigerian to rise up and join us in this struggle, this is not a fight for NUPENG alone, it is our collective fight. Our solidarity remains constant, for the union makes us strong,” he said. (Nigerian Tribune)

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