Infrastructure, no doubt, is fundamental to the growth and development of any nation as it is indispensable to social, economic, political and cultural advancements.
Perhaps, it is in light of this that President Muhammadu Buhari has demonstrated an unwavering determination to initiate and fund infrastructural projects. The need to have in place functional facilities ought to be apparent, something that does not require too much expertise to fathom, but has clearly been undermined by inadequate funds for speedy implementation and execution, high and cascading inflation, fall in crude oil price and, not forgetting, the almost empty treasury the current administration inherited from the previous Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governments.
President Buhari, being a visionary and unrelenting nation builder, displayed boldness and sensitivity to the plight of the masses in securing loans to facilitate relevant infrastructure and hopefully ensure a better tomorrow.
According to the Debt Management Office (DMO), the country’s debt was N21.73 trillion on December 13, 2017, compared with what it earlier stood at on June 30, 2015 – N12.12 trillion. This means that within 30 months, between July 2015 and the end of 2017, Nigeria’s debt profile increased by 79.25 percent or N9.61 trillion.
By the close of last year, external debt alone accounted for 26.64 percent of borrowing, a figure up from 20.04 percent in 2016. In the same period, domestic debt was 73.36 percent as against 76.96 percent in 2016. These monies, unlike the ones secured by some past administrations that ended in personal pockets, are now being channeled into the implementation of capital projects and human capacity interventions.
Even though the anxiety of Nigerians is understandable, the dividends of these efforts will surely manifest in due course with strict monitoring, supervision, accountability and transparency. Development of this nature embodies long term projects and its values are long-lasting.
We should not deny the fact that the Buhari administration has shown enough commitment to boosting the infrastructural capacity of the country. Within the 2016 and 2017 fiscal years alone, it spent N2.7 trillion on agriculture and other critical amenities.
They include the construction and rehabilitation of railway lines in various parts of the country which will, no doubt, enhance safe and fast transportation of perishable agricultural products like onions, tomatoes, pineapples, mangoes and oranges. Apart from helping to curb wastage, this particular effort can ensure that these commodities are consumed fresh and also processed in good time.
A related intervention of this government is the Anchor Borrowers Scheme sponsored by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), a single-digit interest instrument, aimed at enhancing the production of important farm produce like rice, cowpea, groundnut, cassava and soya beans. Poultry is not left out in this plan. From 2015, the programme has gulped N107 billion, remarkably with excellent impact and outcomes.
To further underscore the centrality of road transportation to the nation’s socio-political wellbeing, this government, in my view, has made courageous moves to secure a stronger future. About $1.3 billion has been committed to five vital projects from the National Sovereign Investment Fund.
They are the second Niger Bridge, East-West Road, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and Abuja-Kano Expressway. Allowance has also been made for the Mambilla Power Project, a venture that is expected to provide multi-faceted benefits to the people, corporate organisations and governments in Nigeria.
And in a country known for waste and lack of continuity in governance, it is noteworthy that the present government, as part of its development policies, continues to revive and complete projects abandoned by previous administrations. The Oyo-Ogbomosho and Enugu-Port Harcourt expressways are some of the instances.
Nurturing a nation’s infrastructural development is a continuous process that should not be hampered by change in administration or government. However, the financial recklessness of the administration that handed the baton of leadership to the present one has now made it difficult to proceed unhindered with more result-oriented goals.
It should not be forgotten too quickly that President Buhari’s administration was literally compelled to start from ground zero to where we are today. Even then, the achievements recorded so far strides were made possible by the relentless anti-corruption wars that have curtailed shady practices in government and have seen the investigation and prosecution of past and present corrupt officials.
It is inspiring to see that these setbacks are being challenged frontally by the undying determination of this administration to usher the nation into a new era symbolised by the countless opportunities that abound in Nigeria today.
Surely, official efforts have been greatly improved upon by technology. Under Buhari’s administration, the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector, for the first time in Nigeria’s history, contributed 11.81 percent growth in the second quarter of 2018 to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and has assisted in saving 24.7 billion naira monthly.
That aspect of the economy has also helped in the consolidation of government accounts and elimination of ghost workers from Federal Government payroll.
A closer look at similar accomplishments of this administration in less than four years would reveal that they are indeed praiseworthy. They are too numerous to mention all here. The few examples outlined earlier ought to convince even ardent or habitual critics of this government that giant steps are being taken towards genuine, lasting social and economic prosperity.
These and many more are the efforts of the Buhari administration in the area of infrastructure in Nigeria. Following facts, instead of fiction, about the ongoing projects is a sure way to calming our anxiety and objectively assessing growth and development in our dear nation, Nigeria.
That will reconnect us to the reality that development is a process, a journey, and not magic. This level of awareness becomes our shield against disruptive and venomous lies of the enemies of the country.
If Buhari and his team have been able to make this difference within the short time they have operated, what stops well-meaning Nigerians from clamouring for them to continue with the good work next year? That sounds biased. But then, there is nothing wrong with partisanship that is rooted in truth or hard facts.
Ebube, public analyst, writes from Abuja.
– Abba Mahmood returns next week
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