Nigerian Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola appeared to have angered many Nigerians with his latest comments on the state of the country’s roads.
On Wednesday, 6th August, the Minister, after the Federal Executive Council meeting, said that Nigerian roads were not as bad as people portrayed.
What exactly did the Minister say?
The Minister, who is a former Governor of Lagos State, reportedly stated that the roads were not that bad while reiterating that the paucity of funds and bureaucratic bottlenecks were major setbacks that stalled the process of road construction in the country.
The Minister’s statement reads: “The roads are not as bad as they are often portrayed. I know that this is going to be your headline, but the roads are not that bad.
“When I come here to announce that a particular amount was approved for a contract that doesn’t mean the amount has been paid contrary to what you suggest.
“You are mindful also that minister of finance, different arms of government are escalating the fiscal challenges we face as a nation in trying to fund the budget.
“You are also mindful that the last few budgets in Nigeria for almost 20 years have been deficit budgets and these are terminologies that are realities and I think we should acquaint ourselves with if we are not just to report the news but also educate the public.
“You must also be aware that between awarding a contract and also mobilizing to the site there is a distance. First of all, we have to have an agreement that is the relationship between the ministry of works or any other ministry and the ministry of justice, then there is a role that banks play, they have to give a guarantee.
“Building materials – rocks, laterite, quarry, iron rods have to be ordered, construction companies don’t keep them.
“The process of producing blasting rocks requires approval from the office of ministers of justice and even the office of the NSA to get approval to get dynamite. All of these are the things that go on. So the point that I am making to you is that there is a distance between approval, implementation, actual construction and the result.”
Meanwhile, Nigerians are not having it
Following the Minister’s comment on the state of Nigerian roads, Nigerians flooded to Twitter to express their displeasure. Here are some selected reactions.
Commenting on Nairametrics’ Twitter handle, popular Analyst and News Editor at Bloomberg, Paul Wallace, asked if the Minister had driven from Lagos to Seme.
Has he ever driven from Lagos to Seme?
— Paul Wallace (@PaulWallace123) November 7, 2019
Also, a twitter user, Demola Og, described the painful experiences and ordeal Lagos road users witness in the process of manoeuvring on the bad roads, while also avoiding motorcycle and tricycle riders.
Fashola said Lagos roads are not that bad….
That's why we can't drive straight
We'll have to go zigzag so we can avoid potholes
And while avoiding these portholes, we also have to avoid the impatient Keke and bike riders so they won't hit our side mirror!!!
— Mola | Your Favourite Yoruba Angel✨✨ (@damola_og) November 7, 2019
Further reacting to the Minister’s statement, Steve Osaz, knocked Fashola, accusing the Minister of not plying the roads to have a glimpse of how bad they are.
How is he supposed to know? Does he ply any of those roads? His primary route which is Lag-Abj, he does via air, so what is he talking about.
Fashola has now developed a reputation for talking nonsense and outright rubbish all the time.
— Stephen Osazuwa (@steveosaz) November 7, 2019
According to Segun Oladejo, the Minister needs to ply one of Nigerian roads before making such a statement.
I bet Fashola to take Lagos to Ilorin road in a public transport. That time we will know if Nigeria road is bad or not
— Segun | Legal 🔌 (@SegunOladejo_) November 7, 2019
Another Twitter user wondered why the Minister would make such a statement when the deplorable state of Nigerian roads make road users spend more time than expected.
Fashola is just being defensive by saying Nigerian roads aren't as bad as they're being portrayed simply cos he's the minister lol.
He himself knows the deplorable state of our roads.
A journey of 3 hours, one ends up spending 5+ hours cos of the bad roads
Oga Fashola FIX UP..
— Pastor Clinton😇 (@Pastor_CVB) November 7, 2019
A Twitter user, Mohammed. cited the deplorable major roads in the Northern part of Nigerian.
May be in south west, come to the north and see Kano-Maiduguri, Mokwa-Tegina, Tegina – birnin gwari, Bida- minna-lambata and minna- Abuja . You will cry blood 😭
— Mohammedking (@Mohamme21934668) November 6, 2019
In a similar fashion, this user knocked Fashola, stating that the Minister and leaders are not living in the present-day realities. According to him, they fly jets and ride on big cars to notice the bad states of the roads.
How will Nigeria make progress with this kind of mind set? These men are living in isolation of the present day realities we face everyday. They can afford to travel to London for medical check up, ride on jeeps, fly presidential jets… Well is a matter of three years?
— nwosu tobechukwu (@tobe4greatness) November 6, 2019
Abiahama, who claimed to have travelled to over 28 states, was appalled by such a statement from the former Governor, stating that it’s a pure misrepresentation of the realities on ground.
@tundefashola you are extremely wicked for saying this. Nigerians respected you alot as Governor, Lagos State but now power hv beclouded your mindset. How often do you travel by road Mr. Minister to have concluded that the roads are so not bad? I have traveled to over 28 States..
— Kobiko (@Abiahama) November 7, 2019