By Suleiman Umaru
In the last couple of weeks, Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant, SSA, to President Muhammadu Buhari, on Media and publicity and other top government functionaries involved in the management of the President’ information architecture have been eulogizing his achievements over the last four years.
They stopped short at describing him as the Nigeria messiah in the area of provision of basic infrastructural facilities in the country. Lai Mohammed, the minister of Information and Culture may have hit the nail on the head while addressing the press in Lagos on Monday, December 30, 2019, when he made bold to say that the ‘’ administration has been persistent in building and revamping the critical infrastructural facilities in the country’’. The minister had described the administration’s provision of basic infrastructural facilities in the country as ‘’very massive and worthy of praise by Nigerians’’.
According to him the Buhari led All Progressive Congress, APC, government has performed better than the previous administrations of former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Goodluck Jonathan and late Umaru Musa Yar’adua , elected under the platform of the People’s Democratic party, PDP, which ruled the country for about 16 years including other administrations in the” history of the nation ’’.
He may have also alluded to Ibrahim Babangida, a retired Army General, and a former Military head of state, who baptized himself as military President who had ruled the country for about eight years before being forced to relinquish power by the military top brass to a lame duck administration Headed by UAC Boardroom politician, Earnest Shonekan, from Ogun state.
Given an insider information of the performance of the administration over the last four years, he noted that so far, it had embarked on roads, rail, power and constructions of Dams which are too numerous to mention in different parts of the country.
In the area of power development, he disclosed that the government , and Siemens, a multinational power Company had signed an agreement to generate 11,000 MW by 2023, in order to support the activities of the 11 Transmission and the 11 Distribution Companies, DISCOS, carved out from the defunct, National Electric Power Authority, NEPA, but however, Concessioned to private operators.
Going by the agreement, the Multinational Power Company, he said is expected to support the Companies over the next four years in their operations and maintain soft ware to ensure uninterrupted power supply in the country.
Note that Dunlop, a tyre manufacturing Company and other high profile Multinational Companies operating in the country since the’ 50s had relocated their production plants to South Africa, Ghana and Coted’Ivoire to produce for the Nigeria market due to the high cost of production occasioned by poor electricity supply in the country. The situation became worse between 1980 and 2012.
Many believe that if the Buhari administration could fix the nation’s power sector as boasted by Mohammed, the minister of Information and Culture, it may encourage the run away companies to return to Nigeria to resume their business. The World Bank, in one of its meetings in NewYork, United States, had described Nigeria as a big market, stressing that that the day the government would get the power sector fixed , the country would be on the path of becoming one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
This may have informed why the Buhari led government had sought the approval of a $29.9 billion loan from the Paris Club which had been approved by the Ahmed Lawn led National Assembly to fix the broken down basic infrastructural facilities in the country.
Although, the external loan borrowing had been described in several quarters as a burden to the country, because of the yearly budgetary provision that would be made available to service it, but the minister would not agree with the critics.
Take for instance, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, which had said that going by the country’s local and external debt stock of N25.7 trillion, the government will continue to spend a huge chunk of its yearly revenue generations from both the oil and none oil sectors of the economy to service the debts. The minister was said to have told those that cares to listen that the current multi-billion dollars loan being sought by the government is aimed at ‘’revamping the country’s dilapidated roads, bridges, railways and power sector’’.
At present, the most visible of the project being executed by the administration but with the assistance of the Chinese government which had nominated the state owned Chinese Civil Engineering and Construction Company, CECC, as the Contractor is the railway project in different parts of the country.
An elated Mohammed had said that the laying of rail tracks on the Lagos – Ibadan Standard Guage Line, SGL. Has almost been completed. The Kwara state born politician may have told Nigerians lie when he opined that the ‘’test run has commenced’’.
Note that over the last one month, Workers plying the Lagos-Abeokuta express way had not been finding it easy getting to their places of work because of the on-going construction works at the railway site in Lagos. The laying of rail line may have been completed in some parts of the country including the Abeokuta axis but remains a pipe dream in the Lagos axis.
Mohammed may have gladdened the heart of Nigerians when he revealed that the Construction firms, both indigenous and foreign, contracted by the government ,to fix the country’s bad roads across the country have mobilised at the various Construction sites . He cited the Lagos-Badagry, Port Harcourt –Enugu and Port Harcourt -Aba as well as the Okene- Auchi roads where work is seriously going on.
The minister who could not hide his feelings averred that ‘’in the face of massive infrastructural decay in the country, ‘’no responsible government will sit by and do nothing’’, indirectly describing past administrations as responsible.
Recall that the world bank had described Nigeria as next to the Central African country of Cameroon as one of the countries in the African Continenet having bad roads. Recall that the issue of bad roads in the country remains a source of problem to officials of the Federal Rad And Safety Commission, FRSC, because of the numerous accidents over the years..