By Kingsley Adegboye
Stakeholders who gathered at the just concluded maiden edition of the Nigerian Infrastructure Development Awards NIDA, held in Lagos have emphasised the need for rapid infrastructural development across the country to ensure national development.
The theme of the event organised by Prospers Strategy Limited was “Solid Infrastructural Backbone as Catalyst for National Development”.
In his keynote address, Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, who was represented by the Director of Federal Highways, South West, Engr. Funsho Adebiyi, said the Buhari administration has embarked on massive infrastructural projects across the nation to ensure national development.
Fashola added that the administration is equally playing the pivotal role in ensuring the allocation of resources to enable it deliver on its mandate at a time the country is earning much less revenue from oil, pointing out however that, “I will like to focus on the larger picture of the resolve to renew Nigeria’s ageing infrastructure, most of which were built over four decades ago.
“I speak of projects like the Kano-Maiduguri Highway, the Enugu-Port-Harcourt Road, the East-West Road, the Lagos-Ibadan Highway, the Benin-Okene-Lokoja Highway, the 2nd Niger Bridge, the Loko-Oweto Bridge and others. I speak also of difficult projects that appeared to have defied every attempt to start them like the Bobo-Bonny Bridge, which has now commenced, and the Mambilla Hydro Power project which contract has been signed.
“These projects and many others like our rail projects from Lagos to Kano, Port-Harcourt to Maiduguri, and Air and Sea ports at various stages of completion, will from the foundation for building our prosperity and national development. These foundations will be so strong that they will ensure that we are able, in the near and long terms, to deal with adverse economic seasons.
“They will help to diversify Nigeria’s economy away bfrom oil dependence, and open new opportunities of prosperity for N igerians in sectors like tourism, agriculture, transport, logistics and manufacturing”, Fashola noted.
The Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission NCC, Senator Olabiyi Durojaye who was the chairman of the night, pointed out that infrastructural development is very critical to the development of the nation, stressing however, that it is one thing to have infrastructure, but it is another thing to develop it to the benefit of the nation.
Durojaye therefore called on private and public sector players in infrastructure segment of the national economy to come together to take infrastructure development to global level, pointing out that Nigeria cannot afford to be left behind in the quest for infrastructure development as obtainable globally.
Chief Executive Officer of Prospers Strategy Limited, organisers of the event, Mr. Lanre Alabi, while welcoming the audience, said the event, themed “Solid Infrastructural Backbone as Catalyst for National Development”, is part of a broad programme to X-ray topical infrastructure issues facing the nation and boost the growth and development of infrastructure in Nigeria.
According to Alabi, “It offers a unique platform for technocrats, innovators and administrators, companies and groups whose mandate and activities impact on the improvement and development of infrastructure in Nigeria”.
Alabi informed that NIDA had identified corporate organisations, government agencies and individuals who had made huge and outstanding impact in the Nigerian infrastructural development sector over the years. “We have identified key personalities, top government officials, government agencies, private sector players and innovators who have played iconic and notable roles through strategic policy formulation, progarmme implementation, project execution in the development of infrastructure in Nigeria.
“Our focus is to honour the best, boldest, creative and outstanding projects that have impacted on the well-being of the people. Many infrastructural projects have projected the nation to the outside world and have birthed many other businesses. The presence of these high-impacting infrastructure investments cut across transportation, telecommunication, energy and power, oil and gas, aviation, agriculture, health, housing and entertainment.
Fashola, Governors Willie Obiano (Anambra) and Akinwunmi Ambode (Lagos) were among those honoured at the event for their contributions to infrastructural development.