The development of critical infrastructure is a great global challenge of our time. There is an essential and growing demand for infrastructure to address key global issues such as climate change, energy demands, water and food shortages, mass urbanisation and economic and social development. To satisfy this demand effectively and deliver lasting economic and social development Nigeria needs the collective leadership, experience and creativity of the infrastructure community.
Around the world investment in infrastructure has always played a leading role in economic development, basic infrastructure – roads, railways, airports, energy generation and supply, water supply, sanitation, etc and underpins sustainable development and economic transformation of emerging economies.
Speaking at an advocacy media launch organised by a leading national non-governmental organisation (NGO), the African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (Centre LSD) on its project, Voice to the People (V2P), being carried out with support from Christian Aid and Department for International Development (DFID), the centre’s programme officer, Mrs Victoria Udoh, said identified poor infrastructure was the cause of under-development in the regions.
She identified some factors responsible for poor infrastructural development to include interference by the political class; economic outlook; infrastructure development; gully erosion; security; regional economic platform; gender development among others.
Speaking to journalists, the LSD’s programme officer said the objective of the project was to empower the poor and the marginalized to be able to hold duty bearers to account to achieve improved service delivery.
According to her, the second phase of the V2P project being implemented in three states in two regions; Anambra and Enugu states in South East and Kaduna State in North West targets education, agriculture, health and infrastructure.
She said: “In attempting to have a better understanding of the specific developmental issues, the centre commissioned a research on situational analysis focusing on regional development in the South East and North West geopolitical zones of Nigeria. This is because understanding the dynamics of the regions may arguably necessitate a deliberate intervention in terms of resource allocation or reallocation, opportunities distribution, and overall development pattern in line with the achievement of national and global goals.”
Giving policy recommendations on the analysis carried out in the South East, under political governance, Udoh stressed the need for a deliberate confidence building mechanism between the political and traditional leaders and the youth to narrow the gap of suspicion and discontent from the people, saying transparency and accountability in political governance at state and local government levels were essential to whittle down the corrupt practices in government, and build trust between the leaders and the electorates.
Speaking on economic outlook, she advised the state governors to deploy policy tools to create friendly environment to promote entrepreneurship and investments; create new tax policies to encourage small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) to survive the harsh economic and fiscal conditions prevalent in the country, arising from the economic recession and operationalize the Onitsha Port to boost economic activities in the region and lower costs of goods.
On infrastructural development, she urged the Federal Government to release funds in the budget for the rehabilitation of the many federal highways in the region.
“The is the need to prioritize the second Niger bridge by the federal government which is critical to the socio-economic well-being of the people in the region; and the need for the state governments in the region to re-awaken the industrial invention and adaptation skills of the people, as exemplified during the civil war period. The government should take the lead in harnessing the huge professional, academic and manufacturing talents of Ndigbo and systematically change the focus of development in the region,” she added.
Giving recommendations for North West regional integration, she pointed out the need for regional integration framework apart from the tenets of good governance lacking in the region, saying the region also lacks a comprehensive plan for growth and development even in agriculture where all states in the region do collaborate.
“In other words, the North West needs a regional integration framework that goes beyond agriculture and incorporates all other sectors of the regional economy. Such framework must be focused on exploiting whatever synergies may exist to promote food security in terms of agriculture but at the same time look for more substantial sources of revenue that will enable the region take care of the multiplicity of problems already identified for growth and development,” she stated. She further said such regional integration must improve based on the experiences of braced and dawn.
According to her, “For the success of the regional group, there is the need for peace; the conflicts (ethno-religious) which have affected transport networks, communications and other basic infrastructure need to be peacefully resolved.
“Ways must be found to involve the private Sector and civil Society Organizations (the third sector) in the integration process. It should not be expected that all private sector groups will favour regional integration. The participation of different groups including NGOs, community-based organizations (CBOs) as well as faith-based organizations (FBOs) should be encouraged as this can help to foster peace and reduce conflicts.”
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