Reps Deputy Minority Leader calls for assent to Road Bills; Says Development can’t happen without reform

By Gloria Essien,

The Deputy minority leader of the House of Representatives, Toby Okechukwu has called for assent to Road Infrastructure Bills

He made the call when the President of the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), Rabiu Ali led a delegation of the association to present a letter of honorary fellowship of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) to him in Abuja.

Okechukwu said that the two bills, Roads Fund Bill and Road Authority Bill, passed into law by the national assembly to give a facelift to the sector were rejected adding that the bills when assented by President Muhammadu Buhari would fast-track more roads infrastructure in the country

He, therefore, appealed to the President and stakeholders to give attention to the Bills.

“When we came in as Committee of Works, we were able to diagnose the challenges in the industry, capacity, personal issues and how the profession is practiced. That was how we came up with the idea of amending the COREN act. We also diagnosed funding issues regarding roads construction, maintenance and we came up with roads fund bill. We also dealt with the issue of organizational structure of that outfit that will maintain and develop roads. We also came up with the idea of roads authority bill. Those bills passed all through the platforms of national assembly, in the house and in the Senate. It was passed to Mr. President, unfortunately, we were not on the same page or they could not be up to speed regarding approving it. Luckily, COREN bill passed and it’s now an act of the parliament and I am happy that you are here to follow it up. So, it is our pray that the roads fund bill and roads authority bill should be paid attention to. There is no way you can develop growth in this country without dealing with the issue of reforms in the system and those acts were meant to cure that. So, I am really happy that at least one is down, then, the other two to go. We must follow up the activism and the pressure from the press has to be momentous. Anybody who tells you that road construction in this country can get any golden era without those road reform bills passed into law or without Mr President signing it is joking.”

He appreciated COREN for the award, saying that engineering practice was significant to the development of any society.

Presenting the award letter earlier, Engr. Rabiu Ali said that the award was a sequel to Okechukwu’s contribution to engineering in Nigeria especially in amending the COREN act.

He said that engineering has received a boost with the new law.

“You worked so assiduously as if you were an engineer to that act passed through the House of Representatives. You did not only stop there, you escalated the bill to the Senate and used your position as chairman to impress upon your colleagues in the Senate to get the bill passed. And it was passed by the two houses of the national assembly and it went to the president for assent, you played a very big role in ensuring that the bill was assented to by the President. Sir, what you have done the Nigerian engineering family and profession as a whole can only be imagined. We appreciated it because no one that I know for thirty something year I have been in practice in engineering has contributed so much to the development of engineering practice in Nigeria like your good self. To think of it, you are not an engineer. You are a lawyer by profession. So, we thought and wondered how to show appreciation. In COREN, we do no give awards whether honorary or deserved or honors. So, we approached our colleagues in NSE. There are 4 grades of membership in NSE. The Fellowship grade is the highest grade of membership which is usually given to engineers who have reached a certain level in their areas of practice. And of course, non engineers like you who have made enormous contributions to the development engineering profession in Nigeria. NSE is 64 years today. It came into being in 1958. And since then, we have less than 20 honorary fellows of the Society and you are one of those 20 Honorary Fellows.

“The act that you have given us will go a long way in putting engineering in the front burner and in proper perspective in Nigeria. The fruits might not seen immediately but I want to inform that we have stated implementation of the act and we are already seeing signs that the act will change the face of engineering practice in Nigeria. So, we are here to deliver this letter for the award of honorary fellowship of NSE to you,“ he explained. (VoN)

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