Uche Usim, Abuja

To tackle the decaying infrastructure in the country, the Federal Government, on Monday, said it has, so far, released N995.665 billion from the N1.347 trillion earmarked for capital expenditure in the revised 2020 budget.

Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, made the disclosure in Abuja while  presenting a cheque of the N162. 667 billion realised from the 2020 Sukuk issuance.

According to the minister, President Muhammadu Buhari earlier directed the release of 50 per cent of the N1.347 trillion before the end of July 2020, adding that “the total capital release to date is N995. 665 billion, including Sukuk.”

She noted that the release of the N162.557 billion to the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing meant that the amount appropriated for road projects financed by Sukuk in the 2020 budget had been completed.

The minister further said: “The government has been greatly encouraged by the tremendous success recorded with regard to improvements in road infrastructure across the six geopolitical zones with the intervention of this special funding.

“Besides, the fact that the evidence of the use of the proceeds by way of works done are there for all to see, the comments and feedback received from commuters, transporters, other businesses, investors and other well-meaning Nigerians have been heart-warming.”

Also speaking at the event, the director-general of the Debt Management Office (DMO), Ms. Patience Oniha, described the development as a thrilling testament of the successful completion of the Third Sovereign Sukuk issued by her organisation last month on behalf of the federal government.

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She pointed out that the federal government had raised the sum of N362. 577 billion with the issuance of the third Sukuk, adding that the funds were for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of road projects across the six geo-political zones of Nigeria.

“The strong response to the Third Sovereign Sukuk for which a total subscription of N669.12 billion was received for the N150 billion that was offered, which represents a subscription level of 446.08 per cent, is indicative of good market awareness and acceptance of Sukuk as a financial product, both which are project-tied, to support the development of infrastructure and other capital projects.”

Receiving the symbolic cheque, Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) said that the event  was, “a clear evidence of transparency in the utilisation of Sukuk proceeds.”

He added that the federal government valued the trust of the Sukuk investors and that such a trust would not be misapplied in the 44 roads projects to benefit from the N162. 557 billion.

The minister described it as one of the ways that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration was distributing wealth among Nigerians through infrastructure financing.

He added that contractors would return to work and employ workers, quarry operators and transporters of construction materials would be engaged and commuters would experience improved travel time.

Fashola said the initiative has a ripple effect on the economy by ensuring job creation and economic growth.