What happened to President Muhammadu Buhari’s assertions that he is a responsive President?
As the May 29 handover date for the inauguration of a new president approaches, Mr. President has begun to grant himself pass marks in the style of Donald Trump, the most competent, smartest, most handsome, and the most President in the United States of America has ever had. Trump is ironically only addressed seriously these days as the most in two things: self-delusion and a danger to democracy.
President Buhari recently claimed that if it weren’t for his government, Nigerians would already be walking from Lagos to Abuja due to the lack of a proper road. Why is this desperate allegation being made? To put things in their appropriate context, we must examine the safety of that crucial road. If the president is implying that the Lagos-Abuja highway has been completed, then his Minister of Works must have deceived him.
That famed Lagos–Ibadan expressway, yep, it’s 127.6 kilometers long (79.3 miles). Now consider this: repair work has been ongoing there, on the same length of the road, since 2013, a period of nine years. Buhari has been in charge for seven and a half of the nine years thus far. Last year, Works Minister Babatunde Fashola announced that the expressway’s renovation would be completed by 2022. Buhari, on the other hand, has given himself full marks without waiting for the road to be fully restored.
That’s a new one on me. The Lagos-Ibadan expressway is only a portion of the distance between Lagos and Abuja. So, what is the status of the various segments of the route that travels from Lagos to Abuja? Regardless of whatever route you choose to go to Abuja from Lagos, it is riddled with potholes; whether you drive through Ibadan and then to Ilorin, or through Bida and then to Abuja.
The same horror would be experienced if you traveled from Ibadan to Akure and then connected to Lokoja, or if you traveled from Shagamu through Benin and Auchi, Okene before connecting to Okene and then on to Abuja. Yes, the Shagamu-Benin section will bring some relief, and I applaud Buhari for that, but you won’t be able to speed on that road nonstop as we used to when it was less than ten years old.
The Abuja-Lokoja leg of the Abuja-Lagos route is also significant. It was given a contract to dualize it 16 years ago. According to a report published in the Vanguard on April 1st, 2021, the Director of Highway, Construction and Rehabilitation, Ministry of Works and Housing, Engr. Funso Adebiyi assured that the road projects would be completed in December 2021 while inspecting section one of the project (Zuba-Gwagwalada-Sheda axis).
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No, it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke; I know the reporter who broke the news, and he’s dead serious. The Federal Executive Council (FEC) re-awarded the contract for a 49-kilometer segment of Abaji to Kotokarfi, a portion of the Abuja-Lokoja highway, to Messers Galt on Wednesday, February 23rd, for N56.175 billion.
The contract for the same portion was originally granted in 2006 but was later canceled and represented for implementation by the Ministry of Works and Housing. This is also part of the Abuja-Lagos Highway!
The 209-kilometer stretch that connects Benin City by-pass to Okene By-Pass is now a particularly lengthy segment of the Lagos-Abuja Road. It’s been mostly forgotten about.
So, which route between Abuja and Lagos was Mr. President referring to? Mr. President, on the other hand, indicated that he concentrated on national infrastructure to aid Nigeria’s development. That’s all well and good, but he has to be warned that his efforts so far have fallen well short of what Nigeria deserves. Not only is the Lagos-Abuja route bad, but practically every road in Nigeria is bad. For years, the Onitsha-Enugu and eventually Port Harcourt expressways have been in disrepair. President Goodluck Jonathan never finished the East-West road. However, he has been out of Aso Rock since 2015, a period of more than seven years.
The completion of the Second Niger Bridge in “quarter one in 2022” should be one of Buhari’s key boasting rights (according to the Works Minister). This month marks the conclusion of the quarter! Beyond that, this government will finish on May 29, 2023, so if caution is not exercised, another administration may claim credit for constructing that crucial bridge, which, oddly, does not include a train segment.
So, when it comes to the Abuja-Lagos road project, Buhari has nothing to brag about. It will only become worse if he starts claiming that he restructured Nigeria’s infrastructure. This is because the fundamental physical and organizational structures and facilities required for the running of a society or industry, such as buildings, roads, and power sources, are all included under the umbrella word infrastructure. Highways, streets, and roads, bridges, Mass Transit systems, Airports, and Airways, water supply and other aspects of water resources, waste management and wastewater management, power generation and transmission, telecommunications, and hazardous waste removal and storage are all part of a country’s social and economic infrastructure. Petrol refineries are also considered part of the national infrastructure.
All previous administrations have failed miserably when it comes to infrastructure. Unfortunately, the Buhari government only has until May of next year to follow in their footsteps. So it only has a few months to work some magic and get itself out of the quagmire in which it finds itself in terms of infrastructure development. Consider the provision of power.
I should also point out that I haven’t mentioned the question of national security. No, I’m not that evil; that would lower Buhari’s record down, far into the gutter. Buhari and his advisers should brag less and work harder.
Pay greater attention to those who go about in the shoe of insufficiency in the country and know where it pinches. Only scumbags will criticize a good president… Nigerians are not opportunists. They are in desperate need of solid leadership.
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