GOVERNOR David Umahi of Ebonyi State has called on the National Assembly to come up with a law that will empower states to rehabilitate or construct federal roads in their domain and put toll gates on them.
Umahi made the appeal during a thanksgiving service organised by Senator Obinna Ogba at Nkalagu, Ishielu Local Government Area on Sunday.
Umahi, who described most federal roads in the states as very deplorable, said his call was to ameliorate the suffering of motorists and commuters.
His words: “Just a week ago, r. President gave us the go ahead as a state to complete the Abakaliki-Afikpo Road and toll it. And so, I am thinking because we wrote to him and requested for that, the Senate and of course the National Assembly should look at that direction of coming up with a legislation so that it becomes a law for any state that can complete a federal road project to be allowed to put toll gates on the road.
“That will assist because we have come to realise that even though they are federal roads, Federal Government is not always on the road but mostly the people of the states.”
The governor also urged the National Assembly to ask the federal government to refund the over N500bn states had past spent on federal roads.
He said such fund would go a long way in easing the cash crunch facing the states.
Umahi specifically pleaded with the National Assembliy to assist Ebonyi State get back the over N25bn his administration and past governments had spent on federal roads which had constituted death traps to people.
“We have done various federal roads and we asked that this money be refunded. We believe that it will go a long way in assisting the state even if it is 50 per cent,” he pleaded.
Umahi also commended the National Assembly members for their support for President Muhammadu Buhari, which according to him, has kept the country together in spite of the economic and security challenges facing it.
The governor said, “Let me thank you honestly for the sacrifices you are making at national level through your efforts for the stability of the country.
“This is not a time for any kind of leader to be in power. It’s not; it’s quite a challenging time. And so you have sacrificed by giving support to President. You are sacrificing and supporting the President so that our nation may improve.”
He urged Bukola Saraki, President of the Senate, who was among the over 15 National Assembly members and politicians that graced the event to consider Ebonyi State as one of the states with internally displaced persons to be assisted by the Federal Government.
Umahi disclosed that his government would soon send to the National Assembly, an official letter to that effect.
He said, “We have a lot of internally displaced persons; we have a lot of crises with our neighbours, call it Ikwo and Cross River axis; Benue, Abia, and the unfortunate Ezza/Ezillo war. This have resulted in a lot of causalities with many homes destroyed.”
Saraki, while commending Senator Ogba for his positive contributions in the Senate, assured that the National Assembly would do its best to assist Ebonyi State recover the over N25 billion it had spent on federal roads.
He reiterated that the National Assembly would not relent in making laws that would promote the unity of the country, despite ethnic, religious and party affiliations.
— Feb 8, 2016 @ 19:00 GMT