2016 budget will work if … —Fashola

From left, Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Fashola; Kwara State governor, Dr Abdulfatah Ahmed; Minister of State for Works, Power and Housing, Mr Mustapha Baba Sheuri; Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Power and Housing, Mr Magaji Abubakar and others, during the fifth National Council on Housing and Urban Development at the state Banquet Hall, Ilorin, on Thursday.

MINISTER of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, has warned that intent of the 2016 budget to promote inclusion and employment would be defeated if Nigerians continue to patronise foreign goods rather than locally-made ones and abdicate their responsibilities as builders to foreigners.

Fashola, speaking at the fifth meeting of National Council on Lands, Housing and Urban Development, said the budget would only succeed in pumping N1.8 trillion into capital expenditure, but the money would be transferred to foreign countries and their factories, where imported goods are made.

He, therefore, maintained  that building professionals would only partake in the benefits of government’s economic policies if they were willing to act, work and get their hands dirty by blasting rocks, moving sand, cement, iron rods, etc.

Speaking on the theme, “Building Adequate Capacity of Professionals, Artisans and Tradesmen in the built environment,” Fashola said the plan of the Federal Government to boost and stimulate the economy back to growth was evident in the commission of N1.8 trillion in the 2016 budget to capital expenditure.

“In 2016, about N1.8 trillion is planned for capital spending with a commitment to fund it. But, I must advise that inclusion and employment will not happen if the people for whom the budget is made abdicate the responsibility for building to foreigners, or prefer foreign goods to locally-made ones

“What will happen is that the budget will work, the money will be spent, and the benefit will be transferred to foreign countries and factories where the professionals reside or where their imported goods are made.

“So one objective of this council meeting and its theme is to emphasise to all members of the built environment that it is only those who are willing to act, who are willing to work and who are willing to get their hands dirty, by blasting rocks, moving sand, cement, iron rods, making doors, molding blocks, pouring concrete and so on that will readily find inclusion in this economic process,” he said.

On efforts of the ministry to ensure that Nigerians take up jobs in the country and build capacity for their inclusion, Fashola said the ministry continued to encourage the use of locally-made meters, wires and galvanised sheets for transmission equipment.

“Not only are we aggressively pursuing our roadmap of stable and ultimately uninterrupted power, the ministry has encouraged the use of locally-made meters, wires and galvanised sheets for transmission equipment and we are seeing some positive if not yet sufficient responses. This is the way to keep jobs at home and build capacity for inclusion,” he said.

“Our road construction is also based on achieving our economic objectives of growth through critical sectors in the short term. Therefore, with limited resources, we have chosen roads that connect states, roads that evacuate goods from sea and airports, roads that transport agricultural produce and roads that bear very heavy traffic.

“While we cannot cover all the roads across the country, you will agree with me that roads like Sokoto-Kotangora-Makera, Kano-Maiduguri, Jebba-Ilorin-Bode-Sadu, Ogbomoso-Oyo; Lagos-Ibadan; Loko- Oweto, second Niger Bridge, Enugu-Port Harcourt roads fall within this category,” Fashola added.

Also speaking, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State, who said lands, housing and urban development sector was vital to the transformation of the nation’s economy, added that “it is a key indicator of economic well-being, besides its other enormous economic potentials.”

He said as population grows at an exponential rate without an approximate growth in urban infrastructure, the current housing deficit of 17 million was certain to expand, adding that this would give opportunities for lucrative investment and critical jobs.