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Mismanaging infrastructure deficit

NIGERIANS are hurt about the inadequacy of basic facilities the country requires to run effectively. Their absence affects economic and social life. Many Nigerians consider the situation irredeemable.

Unknown to them, the country has added to infrastructure challenges by mismanaging the few that are available or refusing to create linkages that could result in their optimal use.

Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State told the Annual Nigerian Guild of Editors Conference in Uyo about disconnection between the federal and state governments in managing infrastructure nationwide. Two other governors at the event — Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan (Delta) and Air Commodore Jonah Jang (Plateau) — confirmed the situation.

The concern was roads. Uyo has been cut off from Calabar (Cross River State), Aba and Umuahia (both in Abia State). The roads are all federal, but Akpabio said the Federal Ministry of Works turned down his requests to fix the roads, even if Abuja does not refund the expenses.

Uduaghan spoke of the Warri-Asaba Expressway, a federal road, he had envisioned to evacuate goods from Warri Ports to connect markets in Onitsha and Nnewi. The Federal Ministry of Works told him to hands off the road.

Jang said the same Federal Ministry of Works said he would not get refunds for federal roads that he did in Plateau State, which President Goodluck Jonathan promised to pay for, when he commissioned them.

More governors have more stories to tell about their dealings with the Federal Government. Even with electricity, whatever states generate from independent power plants, is lost in the inability of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria to provide enough transmission and distribution facilities.

Interestingly, the three concerned state governments belong to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the President’s party. If it is impossible to agree about developing the country among key officials of the PDP, what happens when governors of non-PDP states are in the same quagmire?

The road links through Abia, Akwa Ibom and Cross River states would improve their economies, and possibly create better image of PDP among the people. Why would the Federal Government reject something that simple and that could improve the economy?

A trip to Calabar, which ordinarily is less than an hour from Uyo, now takes about five hours. Motorists avoid going to Aba from Akwa Ibom. Should governments not be eager to address the situation? Obviously, decision-makers in Abuja cannot appreciate these challenges and their implications as much as those they affect.

The Federal Government should be grateful for partnerships with states that could improve infrastructure, especially with federal roads that are becoming death traps nationwide.

Initiatives like the ones in Asaba, Jos and Uyo should be encouraged not discouraged.


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