Nigeria’s $29.96bn infrastructure loan

It is no longer in doubt that President Muhammadu Buhari’s unflinching commitment to execute ongoing infrastructural development projects across the length and breadth of the country regardless of whether the regions voted for him or not is unshaken. Since he came on board on May 29, 2015, President Buhari has continuously worked towards completing all PDP abandoned projects and also completing the ones initiated by his administration.

Convinced by the need to complete all ongoing projects and their expected impact on the lives of Nigerians, PMB recently asked the Senate to approve an external loan of $29.96 billion to execute key Infrastructural development projects across the country. On the senseless noise of over bloated debt hanging on the neck of Nigeria, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo once made it clear at a function at the University of Ibadan that the Buhari administration inherited a debt of $63bn from the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan. He said that the debt rose to $73b in 2018 with a meagre $10b under Buhari’s watch.

Giving a breakdown of the debt profile of Nigeria, Professor Osinbajo said that Nigeria’s debt stood at $35bn in 2010, $41bn in 2011, $48bn in 2012, $64bn in 2013 and $67.7bn in 2014 but as at handover, it was $63.8bn. Regrettably, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar claimed that President Buhari’s administration took more loans in the last three years than the preceding 30 years. A press statement by Buhari Media Organisation, BMO, described Atiku’s statement as “a co-mixture of outright lies and conjectures.”

Debunking Atiku’s claims, BMO cautioned the former vice president to always check his facts and figures before making them public in view of his status and caliber, adding that Atiku has a ‘penchant for twisting facts for political expediency.’ A press statement signed by Hakeem Bello, the Minister’s Special Adviser, Communications, quoted the minister telling the council that in order to accomplish the objective of completing the prioritised projects in scheduled time, an additional N255.6 billion would be needed to close the funding gap for the projects. He pointed out that the amount was the difference between the appropriation for the project in the 2020 budget, which stands N157.05 billion and the actual estimate for the completion of the projects which stands at N412.64 billion.

Some of the projects include road; The East-West Road; dualization of Lokoja-Okene-Auchi-Benin Road; dualisation Of Ibadan-Ilorin-Jebba Road and dualization of Suleja-Minna road. Others in the power sector include Mambilla Hydro power station; 2,500 KM power transmission lines and power transformers across Nigeria. In the rail sector, projects include standard gauge Ibadan-Kano rail line and Calabar-Port Harcourt, Aba-Makurdi-Bauchi-Maiduguri rail line.

Also included is funding and upgrades of 18 federal universities and total overhauling of Ajaokuta Steel Company. It is for this reason that the need for a speedy consideration and passage of the request by President Buhari to the Senate cannot be over-emphasised. The advantages to be derived from the completion of the projects which cut across regions, states, communities is multi fold. Apart from generation of employment and an increase in the income of communities, lives will be saved from road accidents and also properties that may likely be destroyed as a result.

Speaking at a recent Federal Executive Council session in Abuja, Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola disclosed that the federal government is currently undertaking 524 Highway, Bridge Projects across the country. Every state including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has at least three ongoing highway, bridge projects being executed by the federal government while 80 Projects were prioritized to enhance ease of doing business

Projects include 27 Sovereign SUKUK funded, 47 scheduled for substantial completion in 2020/2021, four major bridges including the second Niger Bridge and two roads leading to the ports, while 43 federal tertiary institutions are benefiting from rehabilitation of internal roads with 10 already completed.

The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has updated the Federal Executive Council on the ongoing road and bridge construction/rehabilitation projects nationwide, highlighting 80 of them as priority projects scheduled for completion in the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

Fashola, who gave the updates in a presentation he made before the council, said a total of 524 road and bridge projects were currently going on across the country, adding that every state in the federation including the FCT has at least three such ongoing projects. According to the minister, “The projects on completion will bring about reduced travel time, lower vehicle operating costs and improve the comfort of road users as well as improve the ease of doing business in the country and ultimately boost the Nigerian economy”.

He noted that federal roads and bridges are major arterial routes that connect all states in Nigeria including the Federal Capital Territory, adding that the routes and bridges linked cities with high economic activities and carried majority of Heavy Goods Vehicles which gradually dispersed through the link routes to different parts of the country.

The minister listed some of the roads to include Lagos-Ibadan-Ilorin-Jebba-Kotangora-Jega-Sokoto-Niger Border; Warri-Benin-Lokoja-Abuja-Kaduna-Kano-Daura-Niger border; Port Harcourt-Aba-Umuahia-Okigwe-Oturkpo-Makurdi-Akwanga-Jos-Bauchi-Maiduguri-Gamboru and Calabar-Ikom-Ogoja-Katsina Ala-Jalingo-Yola-Bama-Maiduguri. Some of the projects scheduled for substantial completion in 2020/2021 and other priority projects, according to the Minister, include rehabilitation of Alesi-Ugep (Iyamoyung-Ugep) Section in Cross River state, construction of Yenegwe-Okaki-Kolo-Nembe-Brass Road and completion of rehabilitation of Ada-Okere-Ukoni-Amedokhiom Old Road, Uromi, Edo state.

My honest and patriotic advise to the Distinguished Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is to rise up to the challenge and do the needful in earnest by overwhelmingly consenting to the request so that funding will be made available for the projects to continue while new ones will take off immediately for the overall development of the country. Only then will Nigerians remember the senators as rising above all political, regional, religious sentiments for the good of Nigeria.

Ilallah writes from Emeka Anyaoku Street, Maitama, Abuja via [email protected]

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