Former Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, says the strides recorded by President Muhammadu Buharis government could hardly be achieved by any other nation.
He stated this during a recent interview at his office in Abuja, the nations capital.
“This government is doing something that I don’t think many if any nation has done before. They are building the entire infrastructure at the same time ports, airports, rail, roads, power, all simultaneously at the same time.
“Often times, what most countries do is to finish one then go to the other. And it is because we have outgrown our infrastructure as a nation. And that is why you will see the commitment of the President to projects like the second Niger bridge, the Igbodo-Ogoni bridge, the Mambilla power plant, the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, all of these is going on at the same time,” he stated.
Fashola also reiterated the Presidents commitment to deliver more dividends of democracy to Nigerians to justify his second term mandate that began on May 29.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, says the Federal Government has placed the provision of infrastructural development in the country seriously.
Speaking at the commissioning ceremony of the operational vehicles at the headquarters of the Federal Road Safety Corps in Abuja, the SGF explained that the government is increasing its spending on road infrastructure to reduce crashes.
“We have also placed a high premium for the provision of fiscal stimulus for infrastructural development with particular attention to the national road transportation system.
“Government, therefore, is informed by the acute recognition of the critical place of road transportation in Nigeria’s historical and national life.
“Consequently, the Federal Government designs to invest in all areas designed to promote effective and efficient transportation system,” he stated.
The SGF noted that in 2018 alone, the current administration “constructed and completed an additional 1,513 kilometres of road, several bridges and rehabilitated 1,008 kilometres of roads across the country.”
He believes that the purchase and commissioning of 74 operational vehicles for FRSC will enhance traffic control on the roads, reduce crashes and ease the movement of goods and services across the country.
The minister, who doubles as the Director-General of the Muhammadu Buhari Campaign Organisation, asked the PDP to stop spreading what he described as “lies”.
He accused the main opposition party of being responsible for the hunger in the land, alleging that the PDP looted the nation’s treasury.
“We are hungry because PDP stole all our money and the economy crashed under PDP. Naira began to rise rapidly or fall rather against the Dollar under the PDP government,” Amaechi claimed.
“(Former President Olusegun) Obasanjo leftover $58bn in the Excess Crude Account. By the time PDP was handing over, they were handing over only $2.5bn to President Muhammadu Buhari.”
On infrastructure, the Minister revealed that President Buhari had approved the construction of the railway connecting Katsina to Gusau, as well as Sokoto to Kebbi states.
According to him, the project would provide at least 300,000 jobs for the people.
Amaechi also informed the gathering that the current administration has succeeded in banning the importation of foodstuffs like rice and chicken among others, thereby saving billions of naira in the process.
He called on Nigerians to vote for the President in the coming elections, to enable him to continue the work he has started.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, says the era in which the presence of the Federal Government is lacking in states is over.
Fashola stated this on Monday during an interview on Channels Television’s Business Morning, while explaining that various constructions are ongoing in all states across the country.
“I can tell you that road construction is going on in all the 36 states of the country. At least, there is one road connecting in one state or the other.
“In some states, there are three, in some states, there are five, in some states, there are eight. What you used to hear before that there is no federal presence in our states, you haven’t heard that lately because if we are not building a road in a state, we are building a house or intervening in a transmission system,” he said.
According to the minister, infrastructure is a crucial investment which successive governments have undertaken since the civil war that ended in 1970.
He, however, reiterated the commitment of the Federal Government in the delivery of infrastructure that will boost the economy and in turn, the wellbeing of Nigerians.
“With the rail coming, with the airports being completed, with the roads coming, you will see as we go down the line competitiveness in pricing and efficiency, manufacturing will pick up, jobs will come. If companies can move goods four times quicker than they used to, they will expand,” he said.
Chairman of the Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, has applauded the Federal Government for signing an executive order which now enables private companies to build roads in the country.
Mr Aliko who was a guest lecturer at the National Defense College in Abuja on Monday noted that logistics issues resulting from poor road infrastructure are a major difficulty that companies in Nigeria are grappling with.
According to him, the newly signed executive order will make it possible for private companies to build roads in order to ease the transportation of goods and services from the production point to the market.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday signed the Executive Order 007 allowing private companies to build roads which the government says it will pay back through tax relief.
The President admitted that the initiative had become imperative because funding infrastructure had become a burden which the government alone could no longer bear.
Read the President’s full statement below.
His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari
President, Federal Republic of Nigeria
At the Presidential Signing Ceremony Of The
Executive Order #007 Of 2019 on the Road Infrastructure Development & Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme,
In The Council Chambers, State House, Abuja, Friday, 25rd January 2019
1. It is my pleasure to welcome you to witness this Ceremony of signing into law of the Executive Order #7 of 2019 on the Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme.
2. This is another opportunity to demonstrate the commitment of this Administration to conceive, design, develop and deliver Public Private Partnerships with notable investors so as to close the road infrastructure gap in the transportation sector.
3. Since I oversaw the successful implementation of the Petroleum Trust Fund roads development programme in the 1990s, various models have been adopted in addressing this infrastructure gap. In recent years, our reliance on annual budgetary allocations to fund roads development has been disappointing, given that our budget proposals have not always been passed in an expeditious manner by the National Assembly.
4. There have also been revenue shortfalls that have hampered our efforts to fully fund critical projects. Furthermore, at the inception of this Administration, we met a significant backlog of local contractors’ debts, which we, as a responsible Administration, have undertaken to clear.
5. We did so with a view to improving the confidence of construction firms in the Federal Government, and to confirm our ability to honour financial commitments for infrastructure projects, as and when due.
6. Despite these challenges, this Administration remains committed to keeping our promises to deliver qualitative roads and transportation infrastructure to our citizens, communities and businesses. In this regard, we have consistently adopted innovative solutions to complement the annual budgetary spending on infrastructure.
7. You may recall that on 25th February 2018, I approved the establishment of a Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund, through which the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority is investing in critical Roads and Power Projects nationwide such as the 2nd Niger Bridge, Lagos to Ibadan Expressway, East-West Road, Abuja – Kano Road, and the Mambila Hydroelectric Power Project.
8. To date, N71 billion (Seventy-One Billion Naira) of funding of this N2.5 trillion (Two-point-Five Trillion Naira) initiative, has come from the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Dividend Account, the Federal Budget, as well as counterpart funds from China Exim, China Development Banks, and other development partners.
9. The N100bn (One Hundred Billion Naira) raised by the Debt Management Office through the Sukuk issuance in September 2017 has been fully deployed by the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing for 25 critical economic road projects located across each of the six Geo-political Zones.
10. Furthermore, in December 2018 we raised an additional N100bn (One Hundred Billion Naira) for funding of another set of 28 road projects also spread across the six Geo-Political Zones. Through these innovative funding mechanisms, we have been able to address the challenges of project funding, cost variation and completion risks that have plagued the development of the nation’s critical roads infrastructure assets.
11. Today’s event marks another milestone in changing the narrative that has dogged past efforts at developing critical roads infrastructure nationwide. Pursuant to the Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme, 19 Eligible Road Projects are to be undertaken by 6 leading manufacturing and construction firms, located in 11 States, and in each of the six Geo-political Zones.
12. Through this Scheme, companies that are willing and able to spend their own funds on constructing roads to their factories or farms, will recover their construction costs by paying reduced taxes, over a period of time. We shall ensure complete transparency in these set-offs.
13. I call on other local and international investors, as well as the State Governments, to embrace this roads infrastructure development Scheme. I personally invite you to submit viable proposals for more road projects, such that, in time, the scope of this initiative will cover all 36 States of the Federation.
14. I note the prudent fiscal risk management measures which the Minister of Finance has adopted to protect the integrity of this programme. The Minister has submitted to me, a Fiscal Implications Report that indicates how the programme’s tax credits are to be administered in a manner that does not impair our revenue projections.
15. The Minister has also laid out a set of revenue enhancement and other fiscal measures, which are targeted to increase revenues over the medium-term horizon pursuant to the Strategic Revenue Growth Initiatives programme, which she launched here in Abuja, on Wednesday, 23rd January 2019.
16. I have charged the Minister of Finance to ensure that the Management Committee, which is saddled with the responsibility of implementing this roads infrastructure development Scheme, is promptly inaugurated, so as to enable the swift and smooth take-off of this landmark initiative.
17. I trust that the members of the Management Committee, under the leadership of the Minister of Finance, as well as the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, will discharge their duties in a diligent, responsible and patriotic way.
18. In closing, I wish to express my gratitude to the participating Investors for their commitment to working with this Administration to develop and deliver critical roads infrastructure, in key economic hubs and industrial centers. I also thank the 11 State Governors, and their States, for their willingness to participate in the Pilot Phase of this programme.
19. I also thank Nigerians for the confidence reposed in this Administration’s strategy, under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, to ensure sustainable, inclusive and diversified growth, as well as to guarantee the socio-economic development of the nation.
20. We trust that as we shortly go to the polls, the Nigerian people will revalidate our mandate to continue to deliver on economic prosperity, national security and good governance, devoid of the bane of corruption.
21. I thank you most sincerely for your attention.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday told various labour unions not to distract his administration from fixing the nation’s infrastructure.
Buhari said this while receiving members of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
“In three and a half years, we have improved tremendously on what we met. We are trying to do infrastructure. No matter which part of the country you come from, you will see the efforts we are making in terms of roads.
“We are trying to fix rails, we are trying to do power, through the use of gas and solar. If you note what we have done in these three and a half years, you will not regret voting this administration into power.”
The President’s comment is in the wake of the ongoing strike embarked by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
ASUU had on November 5, 2018, commenced a nationwide industrial action following the inability of the Federal Government to respond to its demands.
Worried by the situation, President Buhari called on NANS to plead with ASUU to call off the strike “so that they don’t encroach on your efforts to qualify in time.”
He also urged the youths to start preparing themselves to lead the country, stressing that they have leadership traits for any position in the country.
“There is a tendency for you to think that you can do better than anybody, but it is very good for you to know the facts that leadership entails,” he said.
While reiterating his administration’s support to cater for the welfare of Nigerians, the President explained that it is the responsibility of the Federal Government to cater for the employed and the unemployed.
He also thanked the student for their continued support, adding that the country was about to attain food sufficiency and security under his leadership.
The Director of Media, Buhari Campaign Organisation, Mr. Festus Keyamo, says the Buhari administration is prudent with the nation’s resources while embarking on projects in parts of the country.
Keyamo who appeared as a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Monday stated that the Federal Government delivered infrastructural developments when the crude oil was as low as $28 per barrel.
He said, “This government has shown the determination and the will to squeeze water from stone. At a point when they started taking this very critical infrastructure across the country – rail, roads and power – oil dropped to 28 dollars per barrel.
“At that very critical time, they undertook such critical projects across the country. So it shows that it is a government that is very prudent in the management of resources.”
Keyamo’s comments come 24 hours after President Muhammadu Buhari revealed his administration’s plans for the next four years.
At an event tagged ‘The Next Level’, to mark the launch of his campaign ahead of the election, the President said his administration will remodel 10,000 schools every year.
The Buhari campaign spokesman stated that the President has plans to deliver more dividends of democracy to Nigerians.
According to him, the bane of Nigeria’s development has been the mismanagement of public funds.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday blamed the previous administrations for the infrastructural challenge facing the country.
According to him, it is sad that infrastructure went to rot completely within the same period when Nigeria has ‘humongous resources’ at its disposal between 1999 and 2014.
“Our focus now is on infrastructure; roads, rail, power, and others,” said the President who received the outgoing British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, in a farewell audience at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
He added, “How I wish we had fixed all those when we had money. What we earned between 1999 and 2014 is on record, but nothing was done to infrastructure.
“Now, we are doing a lot more, with a lot less resources. And we shall continue to do our best.”
The Federal Government remains focused on its plans and has taken steps to ensure that critical projects such as the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and the 2nd Niger Bridge do not suffer from lack of funds.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said this on Friday when he visited the Headquarters of Channels Television in Lagos.
“The good news is that we put together the Presidential Infrastructure Fund which is being managed by the Sovereign Investment Authority with a seed fund of $1.3 billion to ensure that five critical projects will not suffer from funding,” he said.
“They are the East-West Road, the 2nd Niger Bridge, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the Mambila Hydroelectric Power and the Abuja-Kano Road.”
Beyond the critical projects, the minister believes the Federal Government deserves credit for what it is doing in terms of infrastructure and how it approached projects started by previous administrations.
“The important thing is for the government to remain focused and have a blueprint. And it is to the credit of this administration that we did not abandon any project that we inherited,” he said.
“Most of the commissioning that we are doing today are projects that we met and adopted, some at 16 percent completion, some at 20 percent completion.”
Some of the projects such as the Abuja-Kaduna rail have been completed and others are being worked on.
The Minister recently led a team to inspect ongoing projects in parts of the country and he is pleased with the progress being made.
He said, “I was at Ilorin, Jebba, Mokwa road about three weeks ago. Those who are familiar with that road will tell you that, a year or two ago, it will take you four days, not hours, to travel from Ilorin to Jebba. Today, the 93 kilometre road has been completed and it takes you just under two hours to travel from Ilorin to Jebba and to Mokwa.
“I went with my team to visit the South-East and the South-South and the trip took us from Enugu to Onitsha where we went to inspect the 2nd Niger Bridge and the media saw that progress has been made since we came.
“Before we came in, only N200 million had been paid for that project. As of today, over N4.6 billion has been paid for that project.”
The second leg of the minister’s trip (inspecting projects) took him to the road from Enugu through Umuahia to Aba and from Aba to Port Harcourt.
“It is a 240 kilometre Road; and, averagely, we’ve been able to achieve about 38 to 40 percent completion,” he said, adding that funds secured by the government through the issuance of bonds would also be vital to the execution of projects.
“We secured a Sukuk bond of N100bn and we divided into six equal parts for each of the geopolitical zones to fund 25 critical roads and bridges in each zone.
“So, the government remains determined and focused on providing infrastructure, the government remains focused on providing power and our social investment programmes tries to ensure that no one is left behind.”
The Federal Government has reiterated its plans to address the infrastructural deficit in the country with the Chinese loan.
Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr Okechukwu Enelamah, during an appearance on Channels Television’s breakfast show, Sunrise Daily on Wednesday, said the Federal Government is currently implementing various projects across the country.
“The projects have been there. They have been conceptualized in the past. But honestly, as far as I can tell, I haven’t seen the degree of commitment to implementation,” he said.
“If you look at the railways, the Kaduna-Abuja has been finished, the Lagos-Ibadan is going on.
“And that is why this relationship with China on those infrastructural projects that are demonstrably useful must be done. If you look at Mambilla (power project), it has been there for well over 10 years almost abandoned.
“But now, there has been a re-commitment by both China and Nigeria to develop it that will generate a lot of power that will add to our national grid and that will make a huge difference because we still have a power deficit,” he added.
Enelamah’s comments come two weeks after President Muhammadu Buhari traveled to participate in the 7th Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing.
During the summit, the Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to provide $60 billion to finance Africa’s development over the next three years.
The financing will include $15 billion in “free assistance and interest-free loans”, he said, in remarks meant to ease growing concerns that China’s assistance to developing nations is putting them in debt.
Speaking about the Memorandum of Understanding between the Federal Government and German auto giant, Volkswagen, the minister explained that the car manufacturer believes Nigeria is a hub for the production of over two million vehicles.
According to him, the government needs to create an enabling environment for the deal to be effective by initiating certain policies.
The people of Kabayi community in Aso Pada district of Karu Local Government Area of Nasarawa State share a boundary with nation’s capital. Sadly for them, the proximity has not been as beneficial as they would have loved.
Residents of the community, numbering over 25,000, share a major predicament – lack of infrastructural development.
Bad roads, the absence of water channels, flooding and erosion plague Kabayi community.
For years, the residents say they have had to come together to provide basic amenities, including electricity, for themselves.
Now, they want the government to lift the weight of their shoulders.
“In this area, we have been trying our best. Whatever you see here, even the roads, it is the community that tried and did it. This light you are seeing including the transformer, we are the ones that bought it,” says a resident, Usman Suleiman.
“In short, there is nothing that we can show that the government has done for us in this community.”
Other residents who spoke with Channels Television share Suleiman’s sentiments.
Faced with more challenges than they can grapple with, they reached out repeatedly to the authorities.
According to them, those contacted include the Nasarawa State government, lawmakers and elected officials.
“We have written to some senators, we have written to the local government chairmen and to the councillors, but we have never gotten any attention from the government,” says another resident.
One of the major issues which residents of Kabayi battle with is flooding and by extension erosion.
It hasn’t always been this tough for the community, a growing population and new constructions are considered responsible for several problems.
Julius Otene and Leonard Ogu blame the flooding and erosion on a nearby road construction and the influx of people in the area.
“When people came here and built houses, they displaced the amount of places water used to percolate reduced, so the erosion came to the road. We have been maintaining it by ourselves using shovels, as you can see we were clearing the gutters, that has been our challenge,” says Ogu.
Otene shares what it is like when it rains.
“When rain falls, you need to be here, the level of the water goes up to the neck. I have entered it (the water) once and I couldn’t go back and I couldn’t move forward until I managed to grab a fence. Five to six years ago we weren’t experiencing this (flooding). It all started in the past two to three years after they made the Kabayi/Aso road,” Otene says.
“We have been in this area for more than 20 years. It was motorable before but, as time went on and population increased, flood and erosion kept increasing and eating up the road.
“This culvert we are standing on was built by me with the efforts of the community but we can’t keep pressing. Therefore, we are calling for the help of the government to put one or two things in place.”
The infrastructure challenges in the community have affected economic activities in the community, hospitals, and the size of the population, according to the residents.
“There was a hospital here before but because of the bad roads caused by heavy rains, the owner could not maintain it any longer and now the place is deserted. As you can see, people are suffering. If they get sick at night they must go as far as Mararraba as we don’t have any other place for medical attention,” a resident says.
Another resident, 45-year-old widow, Veronica Reuben, is faced with a new threat caused by the community’s flood problem – erosion.
She says although a portion of her house and land has been wiped away by erosion, she and her children continue to live there because they have nowhere else to go.
For the residents of Kabayi, their situation is now a matter of life and death.
According to them, floods caused by a downpour recently swept a 19-year-old girl away.
Her uncle, David Uzuegbu, says she was coming back from her workplace at Nyanya when she got stuck and swept away by the flood.
The Nasarawa State Commissioner of Information, Culture and Tourism, who also spoke to Channels Television, sympathises with the residents for their losses and challenges.
He promises that the government will continue to give the needed attention to affected areas, stressing, however, that not all issues can be resolved at once.
The commissioner, however, believes “Development efforts are a process”.
“What we are trying to emphasise is that this government, more than any other in the past, has invested a lot of time and resources to ensure that Karu receives attention,” he says.
“There are emerging communities that have developed over time and, probably, Kabayi is one of them. If they (residents of Kabayi) do not have government attention, I can assure them that the state and local government will look into in that direction.”