I was part of the crew from versatile media that listened to the state of infrastructure in 3 states in Nigeria as covered by the DFID and Christian Aid funded programme Voice to the People (V2P).
The press briefing held at the African centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (Centre LSD) in Abuja.
I got emotional and yet hopeful as especially the road Enugu-Portharcourt express way that have remained a death trap for over 15 years was mentioned and I cannot help but lend my voice in this well-timed need.
(Long Read Alert)
The Programme Director, of Centre LSD Mr. Monday Osasah was on hand to educate the press on their findings and resolutions on how to bring the sufferings of Nigerians to an end as it relates infrastructure such as roads, water supply, health care facilities in the 3 above named states in Nigeria.
Let me let you read the report and make informed decisions:
On behalf of the African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development (Centre LSD), I welcome you to this press briefing on the state of infrastructure in the Voice to the People (V2P) focal states of Anambra, Enugu and Kaduna, where the project is currently being implemented. The V2P project as you may be aware is a governance project that is based on four thematic which are; Health, Education, Agriculture and Infrastructure. The idea of the thematic stems from the belief that any country or state that is desirous of development, must focus on these areas. The V2P project therefore is conceptualized with an overarching goal of empowering the poor and marginalized to hold duty bearers accountable to achieve improved service delivery. Today’s briefing, will focus on the infrastructural thematic, looking at the state of federal infrastructure in the respective states zeroing on electricity, road, health and water infrastructure.
State of affairs
A lot can be inferred about the health of a nation looking at the condition of its infrastructure. Nigeria has a total road network of 194,200 kilometers, comprising 34,123 km federal roads, 30,500 km state roads, and 129,577 km local government roads. The country has an extensive infrastructure of roads, railroads, airports, water, electricity, health and communication networks. Currently, many of the roads like some other infrastructure in the country are in a bad shape because of poor maintenance and years of heavy traffic. Key statistics indicates that Nigeria has a large number of uncompleted roads which has been under construction and rehabilitation for over ten years. Ironically, the cost of road construction in Nigeria is far higher than other African countries, a reason why so many of our roads are still not constructed or rehabilitated due to the high cost.
In fact, there is huge deficit in both physical and social infrastructure (basic social amenities critical to human existence and societal growth which are best served by government through taxes by the citizenry). They include good roads, railways, waterways, housing, potable water and power. A cardinal objective of the Nigerian government since the commencement of the 4th Republic is to leverage on its immense natural and human capital endowments as a leading African nation to join the league of the 20 largest economies in the world by 2020. But it is unfortunate that these bold initiatives and huge financial investment in the last seventeen years of democracy has resulted to nothing substantial, as the negligence of Nigeria's existing infrastructure is nearing criminal proportions.
President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2016 Budget Speech promised to increase investments to the roads and other infrastructure sectors. Also in the MTEF 2016-2018, the Federal Government of Nigeria also stated its commitment to improve transportation infrastructure; and the completion of infrastructure critical to the development of trade and commerce and inter-state roads linking critical commercial centers. It promised to set up an Infrastructure Development Fund (IDF) to warehouse funds for capital development and thereby guarantee certainty in funding for critical infrastructure including roads. The question is the status of the IDF?
The South East: Within the framework of the Nigerian state, the Ndigbos are the dominant people of the South East geopolitical zone, made up of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo States. They are strategic in the historical, cultural and socio – political evolution of the country. The South-East zone, with its defining characteristics and indices of development, is popular with its high population density and skill for commerce and manufacturing.
Despite this, the South East is wallowing in deep infrastructural deficit ranging from roads, sanitation, water and power supply. The Enugu-Onitsha Road is right now in a mess. Though the road has featured consistently in federal government budgets even in recent times, and has been awarded several times, the situation of the road remains appalling. Enugu -Port Harcourt and Enugu-Nsukka-Oturkpo Roads are also not left out. Report had it that travelling through the Enugu-Port Harcourt road is a nightmare. The Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) is presently overwhelmed by the deluge of potholes on the Enugu-Nsukka-Oturkpo road as they have given up on the patching of the road. The Owerri-Port Harcourt; and Aba-Ikot Ekpene) are also flashpoints. The federal roads in the South-East are all deplorable. The few of them that are asphalted and made usable were done by host States’ Governors with their unpaid reimbursement sums running into tens of billions of naira.
The Akanu Ibiam International Airport that serve the entire South Eastern part of the country is also not in a befitting state. The airport currently has no perimeter fencing and this makes the tarmac accessible by anybody. The roof of the airport also leaks, and during the rains it constitute a lot of challenge to workers and users. While these remain a huge concern, the electricity situation in the South East is also very worrisome. Monies are paid by citizens for services not rendered. Where electricity meters are paid for, getting them from the electricity distribution for use by consumers is a challenge as the companies are more interested in the estimated billing system. Thus, Hotels in the region run mostly on generators.
The second Niger bridge project initiated to ease traffic congestion is still the way it is after the ground-breaking ceremony by former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2014. Lack of political will is fingered as the underlining reason for the inaction. In a related fashion, water infrastructure in the South-Eastern part of the country is problematic. Waterboards which use to service the people with portable water have dried up and gone moribund, Citizens have thus resorted to self-help by sinking their own boreholes and digging local wells for those who are unable to afford digging boreholes.
North West: The North-West region of Nigeria covers seven states including Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi, Kaduna, Katsina, Kano and Jigawa. The region is blessed with different types of physical, material, natural and human resources. Agriculture is the dominant occupation of the people of the North-West with subsistence crops including millet, guinea-corn, rice, maize and yams; cash crops - peanuts, cotton, tobacco and gum Arabic.
Like the South East, lack of extensive infrastructure like roads, railroads, airports, and communication networks in the North-West region have resulted in lower output. The Nnamdi Azikiwe Bypass has been in a terrible state for years now. However, reprieve is coming with the closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International airport in Abuja and the subsequent diversion of flights to the Kaduna Airport. This development has resulted to the commencement of construction work on the road. But the Birningwari road connecting Kaduna and Niger State that serve motorist conveying goods to the South and back to the North is in a sorry state. The deplorable situation of the road has made it a haven of robbers, though the Buhari led government has started some work on the road, the situation is not yet “uhuru”. The Zaria-kaduna road has also deteriorated terribly. Potholes are everywhere, questioning whether FERMA is still in existence. Patching of roads which is their stock in trade on that road is now completely absent. The same is the tale of the kano-Kaduna road. The rail systems are not any better as they are not working and are underutilized despite attempts by governments at states and federal level to bring them back to life. Some of the new rail projects are abandoned while attempts to refurbish old ones are done half-haphazardly. The region currently has two dry ports approved including one in Kano and Funtua in Katsina State.
On water, the situation in most state of the North West is worrisome. Water Boards are no more functional. Sinking of borehole is now the order of the day a situation expert have said may result in over abstraction of ground water, which effects include land subsidence, salt intrusion, aquifer depletion and water quality degradation amongst other environmental hazards. Zaria has consistently suffered from lack of portable water, yet nothing is done even with the several budgetary provisions for the purpose. Health infrastructure in the region appear to fare better. The General hospitals are faring better than the Primary Health Care Centres. The good news about the General hospitals in the State and region is traceable to the intervention of several development agencies.
As for electricity, there is reported improvement. Most urban centres right now enjoy power for close to 12 hours. In the rural areas, power on daily basis is enjoyed for at least six hours.
There is no doubting the fact that Nigeria’s infrastructure is generally in a deplorable state. The country’s infrastructural needs across every geopolitical zone including the South East and North West are evident from the issues raised above. The target of becoming one of the top 20 economies in the world by 2020 with a minimum GDP of $900 billion and a per capita income of no less than $4000 per annum will be challenging with the level of infrastructural deficit we currently have in the country. We therefore call on other stakeholders including other CSOs, NLC, NBA, Media and other citizens group to join us in pressurizing government to live up to its billing by developing the nation’s infrastructure.
2016 ANALYSIS OF BUDGETARY ALLOCATIONS FOR MAJOR SOUTH-EAST & NORTH-WEST INFRACSRUTURAL PROJECTS
|1.||MOPWH162020962||Concession of 2nd Niger Bridge in Anambra & Delta States Including payment of compensation and consultancy||Ground breaking ceremony in 2014||N13,136,816,518|
|2.||MOPWH162020983||Rehabilitation of Enugu-Port Harcourt Dual Carriageway Section I: Lokpanta-Umuahia in Abia State C/No. 6208||Only one lane has been done. The construction is at a slow pace.||N2,774,495,649|
|3.||MOPWH162020981||Construction of Kaduna Eastern Bypass C/No/5346||Currently on going||N2,427, 683,693|
|4.||MOPWH16415516||Rehabilitation of Sharada-Madobi-Kwanar Dangora Kaduna State.||Currently on going||N2,000,000,000|
|Dualization of Enugu (9th Mile) – Obollo Afor- Otukpo-Makurdi Road. A 119km long single carriageway.||Development phase: Building operate transfer.|
Fed. Min. of Works
|7.||MOPWH164015403||Rehabilitation of Abuja-Kaduna Roads||Currently on-going||N1,220,167,334|