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Executive Order on infrastructure needs a push

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SINCE the Private/Public Partnership model of infrastructural development was introduced in Nigeria in the President Olusegun Obasanjo era, we have strongly and consistently advocated for the strengthening of this model as a means of fast-tracking Nigeria’s exit from its severe infrastructure deficit.

Nigeria started falling behind in infrastructure development due to its dependence on government funding through its corruption-and red tape-riddled annual budgetary allocations.

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The 2016-2017 World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index ranked Nigeria 132 out of 138 countries, though we have recorded marginal gains of recent.

Apart from the controversial Murtala Muhammed Airport terminal, Ikeja, MMA2, constructed by Bi-Courtney Services under the PPP arrangement, very few new projects have been produced through this model which is the rave in most rapidly-developing countries.

We are already beginning to reap the benefits of PPP following President Muhammadu Buhari’s Executive Order No. 007 of 2019, also known as the Companies Income Tax (Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme) issued on January 25, 2019.

The Executive Order was designed to empower private companies to finance the construction or refurbishment of Federal roads designated as “Eligible Roads” under the scheme and recoup their investments through the deduction of the approved total costs expended on the project from their annual company income taxes.

Some road construction projects financed by private companies and non-profit organisations are either going on, or at different stages of completion.

The first phase of the road construction by the Dangote Group from the Apapa Ports through Oworonshoki down to the Toll Gate on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, is in progress.

It is Nigeria’s first heavy concrete road of up to 35 kilometers designed to last at least 100 years.

Also, a N650 million road project financed by Bishop David Oyedepo in Ota, Ogun State, stretching from Oju-Ore Junction, Idi-Iroko Expressway to Lagos through the Navy School of Music to African Independent Television, Alagbado Lagos, has reportedly been completed. Also, in June 2016, the Dangote Group commissioned its 24 km concrete-surfaced Itori-Ibeshe road in Ogun State.

The PPP has already shown elements of promise, and it will take us places if given the necessary push.

In pursuit of this Executive Order, we call on the Federal Government to crank the Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission, ICRC, to bring more companies into this effort ably pioneered by Dangote Group.

That way, Nigerians will begin to enjoy a new lease of life while using our roads and highways.

We have no doubt that Nigerians who once paid tolls on Federal expressways in the past will be willing to pay again if these roads are motorable.

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The Federal Government should make the environment conducive and safe for investors to join in rebuilding our infrastructure.

Vanguard

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