The Quest For Infrastructural Developments and Project Backlogs: The Buhari’s Giant Stride
The growth of any nation hinges greatly on the level of infrastructures within its system and the rate at which their development can be met within the shortest time possible. Infrastructure is the backbone upon which every economy thrives as it creates the environment needed for the economic activities to thrive. No nation can be oyster-locked from the global community and hence, bilateral relationships also play a key role in the development of the infrastructures in any country, and Nigeria is no exception. Without the needed infrastructures, all factors associated with economic growth will be impeded. This makes the quest for infrastructural development a very essential key to national socio-economic growth.
Considering Nigeria’s infrastructural timeline from independence to date, in relation to proportionate revenue generation periodically, and the rate at which other peers (nations that have gotten their independence at about the same time as Nigeria), the story has not been a beautiful tale. The Presidential Projects Assessment Committee (PPAC) set up in 2011 reported that an estimated 11,886 abandoned federal projects in Nigeria would cost ₦7.78 trillion to complete. The immediate past administration of the PDP ignored the report and continued with the wanton abuse of office whereas the Buhari Administration has spent more than ₦2.7 trillion on infrastructural projects development across the country.
Some of these abandoned projects date back as far as 46 years ago like the case of Mambilla Hydroelectric Power Project in Taraba State which President Buhari has worked relentlessly to ensure that it gets completed, and the Naval Reference Hospital in Calabar which was conceived in 1974 and had construction works begun in 1980 but was also another infrastructure within the enclaves of abandonment until 2015 when Muhammadu Buhari became President and the construction work continued until it was completed in 2018 and commissioned by President Buhari himself. His tenacity towards the decay of infrastructures within the country is proved with the number of projects being commissioned monthly since he became President: he has proved himself, as history shall attest, a patriot.
There is also the Itakpe-Warri Standard Gauge railway project which was supposed to be the first standard gauge rail line in Africa had it been completed on schedule after it was awarded in 1987. But alas, as the story goes with infrastructural developments in Nigeria, it was also abandoned and has been completed by the Buhari Administration. It is currently under use. The Lagos-Kano Railway Modernization Project which agreement was signed in 2006 by President Obasanjo with the Chinese government was abandoned also.
The Chinese left the deal majorly because of the lackadaisical attitude of the then government towards the actualization of the project. The project was revived by President Muhammadu Buhari on his first visit to China in 2016 where he appealed to the Chinese government to dust off the files of the project as it remains very essential if Nigeria must meet up with the trend in global infrastructural development. The Lagos-Ibadan phase of the project has been on-going since then and work commences in Abeokuta in Ogun State. The other phases of the project which is Ibadan-Kaduna and Kaduna-Kano have been signed and modalities are being set for construction works to begin.
In the aspect of roads infrastructure, the list is extensive. Road contracts were awarded and monies released but the roads were never done. The records may, in some cases indicated that a particular project has been completed but in essence, the road might not have been graded. Of the entire road network in Nigeria totalling 193,200, only 28,980 Km of roads have been constructed between 1960 and 2015. Take the 93.6 Km Ilorin-Jebba-Mokwa Road for instance which was awarded in December 2013 and was at only 15.9% by May 2015 despite the surfeit of funds which the government was earning( it was estimated that the country earned about over 51 Trillion between 2010-2015).
The road has been completed and an extension of the contract has been awarded to CGC for the dualization of the Ilorin-Jebba-Mokwa-Bokani road from Kwara to Niger State at the cost of ₦130 billion. The Enugu-Port Harcourt Road which has also been in bad shape for decades is also under serious construction and reconstruction of the entire strip of the road.
The Kano-Jigawa-Bauchi-Yobe-Maiduguri Expressway is also under heavy construction at the various sections of the road. The Lagos-Ibadan Expressway is also undergoing massive construction work from the zeal in the current administration to obliterate the infrastructural burden of Nigerians. There is also the reconstruction of the Abuja-Kaduna-Kano Expressway into dual triple lane which has been awarded by the current administration and works begun immediately unlike in the past.
The power sector has no different story from what the other infrastructural sectors of the economy had faced in the past. In the Ministry of Power, there used to be power contracts where the project managers have no idea where the project site is located. The ad hoc Committee on Power Probe in the House of Representatives led by Hon. Ndudi Elumelu revealed that between June 1999 and May 2007, more than $16 billion was appropriated for the power sector and $13.278 billion released to that effect. And yet, there is no equivalent value of the released amount of money to the power in the country. Several monies were reportedly missing or unaccounted for from the power probe of the Elumelu Committee.
There also existed unfunded commitments of about $7.2 billion within the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP). These, and many more rot marred the actualization of the goals for the power sector in the past. The Zungeru Hydro Power Plant Project which had met poor determination towards completing it since it was awarded in 2013, is also on the list. The Zungeru power project is at about 50% completion and is billed to be completed in 2019 to increase the national grid by more than 700MW of electricity.
The Ajaokuta Steel Company was supposed to be the metallurgical hub in Africa, if only it had been completed. The steel company would have created a massive industrial and economic boom in the country that would be matched by no other sector in the Nigerian system. But it was also left to rot. The Buhari Administration has worked on the company and what remains is for the commencement of industrial scale production with the provision of iron pellets. All legal matters surrounding the operations of the company have been resolved by the current administration.
In the case of water resources projects, almost, if not all the water management projects started under the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) from 1994 to 1999, and headed by General Muhammadu Buhari (retired), were completely abandoned: the projects which would have broken the chains of insufficient clean water supply to all parts of Nigeria, both rural and urban settlements. These are the abandoned water projects that the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) is handling across the country.
It would definitely not be possible to give the cumbersome account of all mismanagement and misapplication of public funds that occurred which have led to the abandonment of about 12,000 projects littered around the country by May 2015. As many as the projects seem, the cost of executing each project was inflated beyond reason, in some cases under the NIPP averaging about 1000% increase than similar projects of the PHCN and out of proportion with similar projects from around the world: and monies had consistently been released without meeting the purpose. One of such instances is in the Afam-Ikot Ekpene 330Kv line which was hyper-inflated by more than 100%; the proposed supply of 9No GE frame 9 gas turbines and auxiliaries at the cost of $1.55 billion while GE had earlier supplied 18No turbines of same specifications including technical assistance and long-term services agreements for $404 million: and there were about 15 of similar projects discovered by the Elumelu-led committee with grand extortion of Nigeria’s public coffers. These are only a few of the cases of project hyper-inflation under the NIPP of the Obasanjo era which would have made power available to Nigerians. Monies were paid to contractors and other bodies by evading due process with “Waiver of Due Process Certification of Payment” system which was invented by the administration to override due process.
The habit of abandoning project was a serious menace in government. The list of federal projects abandoned can only be imagined as even after the PPAC report of 2011, an average of 100 federal projects have been abandoned until May 29, 2015. This reveals that the past administration was never ready to make amends towards the betterment of infrastructures in the country.
The pace with which infrastructural developments are on-going in all aspects of the economy is highly impressive. Within the last three and half years of President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria has seen massive construction projects as could have only been imagined before now. Some of the projects have been completed while others are still under construction across the federation.
Opposition is supposed to work towards national development with constructive criticism and not through mendacities as the PDP is scheming every day. They have been on a spree to alter documents and records, and try to make an impression that both presidential candidates of the APC and PDP are not innocent of corruption; that they own all projects that have been completed and commissioned by President Buhari in his three and half years in office which stands unprecedented; by concocting falsehoods on economic situation when the PDP administration has done statistically nothing compared to the earnings they made while the APC-led Buhari Administration has achieved a lot more than they did with the meagre resources at his disposal.
The apparent loss of confidence in the leadership of the PDP by the majority of Nigerians was strengthened by their ineptitude in governance and their affinity towards corruption with pride. The PDP is currently playing on the intelligence of Nigerians by trying to alter facts, figures and events in the recent past in order to sully the name of President Muhammadu Buhari which is also a lost course because President Buhari is a man who has built a reputation of credibility and trustworthiness over the years. This is the reputation Nigerians voted for and are currently reaping the benefits of; this is the reputation he is proving has yet to change in his person; this is the reputation that corrupt persons in our country fear and do not want him for a second term in office.
Any document which the desperate camp of the PDP presidential campaign team are trying to manoeuvre would only serve to increase the reverence and support for President Buhari. How can Nigerians trust them if they still lie to Nigerians blatantly about the obvious truths? Deceit won’t make Atiku president, so he with his team should think of what better ways to become a more formidable opposition than to mere lies and unwarranted trickery.
As it has always been, in all humility, I welcome constructive response(s) and superior argument(s) to the above submission .
May Nigeria Succeed !
By Ussiju Medaner
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