President Buhari, listen to Nigerians and their cries
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President Buhari, listen to Nigerians and their cries






By Tony Eluemunor

Whatever happened to all the claims that President Muhammadu Buhari is a listening President?

Well, as the May 29, handover day when a new president would be inaugurated is fast approaching, Mr. President has begun to award himself pass marks in the style of the ablest, brightest, handsomest and in fact the ‘mostest’ President the United States of America has ever had, Donald Trump. Ironically, Trump is seriously mentioned these days only as the ‘mostest’ in two things; self-delusion and as a threat to democracy.

The most recent claim from President Buhari is that were it not for his administration, Nigerians would by now be walking from Lagos to Abuja for the absence of a good road. Why this desperate claim? To put things in their proper perspectives, we have to survey the wholesomeness of that vital road. If by the Lagos-Abuja bragging, the president means that he has completed the Lagos-Ibadan expressway; his Minister of Works must have misled him.

That road, yes, that famous Lagos–Ibadan expressway is 127.6-kilometre-long (79.3 mile). Now wait for this; repair work has been going on there, yes on that same particular stretch of road since 2013, that is for nine long years. So far, Buhari has been in power for seven and half years of those nine years. Last year, the Works Minister, Babatunde Fashola promised that the reconstruction work on the expressway would end in 2022. But without waiting for the expressway to be fully repaired, Buhari has awarded himself full marks.

Now, that is surprising. The Lagos-Ibadan expressway is a small fraction of the length of the Lagos–Abuja road. So, what is the state of the fractions of the entire road that leads to Abuja from Lagos? Choose whichever direction in which you would decide to travel to Abuja from Lagos, and it is pot hole-filled; whether you travel through Ibadan and from there to Ilorin and Bida and from there to.


Abuja, or if you go from Ibadan through Akure and then connect to Lokoja or you head towards Shagamu to Benin and Auchi, Okene before connecting to Okene and then on to Abuja, it is the same nightmare that would be experienced. Yes, the Shagamu-Benin stretch would provide you with some succour and I thank Buhari for that, but you can’t actually speed on that road non-stop as we used to do when the road was less than 10 years old.

Another important segment of that Abuja-Lagos road is the Abuja-Lokoja section. The contract to dualise it was awarded 16 years ago. An April 1st 2021 report in the Vanguard, had the Director of Highway, Construction and Rehabilitation, Ministry of Works and Housing, Engr. Funso Adebiyi, who while inspecting section one of the project (Zuba-Gwagwalada-Sheda axis) assured the road projects would be completed in 2021 December.

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No, it was no April Fool prank for I know the Reporter who filed that story, and he is as serious as they come. Yet, Wednesday, February 23rd, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) re-awarded the contract on a 49 kilometres section of Abaji to Kotokarfi, a part of the Abuja-Lokoja highway, in favour of Messers Galt for N56.175 billion.

That contract for that same segment was first awarded in 2006, but was terminated and represented for execution by the Ministry of Works and Housing. This is a part of that same Abuja-Lagos Road!

Now, a very long section of that Lagos-Abuja Road is the 209-kilometre stretch which carries traffic from Benin City by-pass to Okene By-Pass. It has largely been abandoned.

So, which Abuja-Lagos road was Mr. President talking about? Well, Mr. President explained that he focused on the national infrastructure to help Nigeria develop. That is all well and good, but he must be told that his efforts so far have been much, much (and much again) less than Nigeria deserves. It is not just that the Lagos-Abuja road is terrible, almost every road is terrible. The Onitsha-Enugu and then on to Port Harcourt expressway has remained dilapidated for years. The East-West road was never completed by President Goodluck Jonathan. But then, he has been out of Aso Rock since 2015, seven plus years ago.

One major bragging right Buhari may earn, should come from the completion of the Second Niger Bridge in “quarter one in 2022” (according to the Works Minister). The quarter ends this month! Beyond that, this administration ends May 29, 2023—so, if care is not taken, another administration may take the glory for completing that consequential bridge, which surprisingly, has no section for rail

lines.

So, Buhari has nothing to boast about on the Abuja-Lagos expressway project. And it will become worse if he begins to make claims that he rejigged Nigeria’s infrastructure. This is because the basic physical and organisational structures and facilities such as buildings, roads, power supplies needed for the operation of a society or enterprise are all subsumed in that all-encompassing term: infrastructure. The social and economic infrastructure of a country includes highways, streets, and roads, bridges, Mass Transit systems, Airports, and Airways, water supply and other aspects of water resources, waste management and waste water management, power generation and transmission, telecommunications, hazardous waste removal and storage. Even petrol refineries are part of the national infrastructure.

On Infrastructure alone, all past administrations failed woefully. Unfortunately, the Buhari administration has just until May next year to join them in that dismal record. So, it has just a few months left to pull off some magic and pull itself out of the gutter in which it dwells as regards its infrastructural development record. Think electricity provision for instance.

And note that I have not brought in the national insecurity issue. No, I’m not that wicked; that would sink the Buhari record deep, deep beyond even the gutter. Buhari and his aides should boast less and

listen more to the people who wear the shoe of inadequacy in the country, and so know where it pinches. Only ingrates will not praise a good president…and Nigerians are not ingrates. They are craving for good leadership.


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