Dichotomy Of Nigeria’s Glorified Infrastructural Development On Paper By Jimoh Abiodun Babatunde

It’s no longer a mirage for any nation that seeks to be industrialized to have a formidable road network as a priority on its national agenda. Findings have shown over the years that there is a corresponding synergy between formidable road network and industrialization. The latter can not be attained without the former and as such, it is only wise and logical for an underdeveloped/developing state to prioritize the former.

The importance of a formidable road network to the growth and development of a nation can not be over emphasized as it contributes immensely to the movement of goods and services as well as the movement of persons from one region to the other. As simplified as this seems even to a layman, the multiplier effect on the economy at large can not be down played nor ignored.

This piece is not to bore you with what having a formidable road network across states of the federation will do for us as a nation but rather draw our attention to and critically look at what seems to have become a norm in our beloved nation. It’s gradually becoming a norm these days to have ‘glorified infrastructural development on paper.’ A ‘glorified infrastructural development on paper’ year after year so beautifully crafted that fills one’s mind with hope of exiting the infrastructural deficit dilemma that one’s nation found herself in a short while.

Over the years, our nation have budgeted trillions of naira to tackle the infrastructural deficit yet, year-in year-out, we have come to realize that there’s little or nothing to show for the trillions ‘claimed’ to have been spent. The deplorable state of our roads across Nigeria only prompts a number of legitimate questions from the teaming population. Questions like, where are the roads the government built as proposed in the budget? How many road are yet to be completed? Why does it seem like our roads still remained the same? These are some of the questions that easily come to the minds of Nigerians everyday as they suffer the avoidable ordeal of deplorable roads across the federation.

Since the inception of the Buhari-led administration, all we have been made to understand was that the previous administration are to be blamed for the ordeal of infrastructural deficit. Well, Nigerians have different take on that assertion today. However, regardless of your assertion, it’s important to move on from the past and focus on shaping our future. Therefore, I strongly believe that there is need to critically inquire what the Buhari-led administration have done to salvage the situation of deplorable roads across the Nigerian states. It will, however, be illogical to say that our infrastructural deficit can be salvaged in four years, rather, it will be right to say that by now we should have seen considerable improvements on the deplorable state of our roads.

According to data gathered from a civic organisation, BudgITng, it might interest you to recall that Buhari-led federal government allocated N362.39bn as capital expenditure for the 2015 fiscal year. Also in 2016, capital expenditure allocated to the Ministry of Works, Power and Housing stood at N422,964,928,495. Meanwhile, in 2017 this administration allocated N279.94bn for the construction of roads across the Nigerian states.

Furthermore, in 2018, the Buhari led federal government allocated N682.96bn as capital expenditure for the ministry of power, works and housing. This happened to be the largest capital expenditure allocation since the inception of the Buhari led administration in 2015. The federal government has also allocated N408.03bn as capital expenditure for the ministry of power, works and housing for the 2019 fiscal year.

Minister of Power, Works & Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola,SAN(2nd left), Deputy Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Hon. Chris Emeka Azubogu (right), Director of Highways,Construction & Rehabilitation, Engr. Yemi Oguntominiyi (left) and Managing Director, Dantata & Sawoe Nigeria Limited, Mr Udo Heidschuster(2nd right), during the Hon. Minister’s inspection of the ongoing dualization of Kano Western by Pass in Kano State being part of Highway Projects in the North West Zone on Sunday, 11th March 2018.

Despite the trillions of naira that have been spent on capital projects of which road construction and rehabilitation is among, one will only expect to have seen commensurate result in road infrastructure rather, the deplorable state of our roads remained unchanged. This brings us back to the ideal of what seems to have become a norm in Nigeria; ‘glorified infrastructural development on paper.’ Year in, year out, all we hear is how billions of naira were allocated for the construction of roads across states of the federation and yet Nigerians are still in constant groaning of deplorable state of the roads for which billions of naira have been ‘supposedly’ spent. For how long shall we continue on this lane?

Despite the trillions of naira supposedly said to have been spent on construction and rehabilitation of roads across Nigeria, one will only exepect by now that the road from Lagos to Abuja, or the roads linking the West to the East would have been remedied from their sorry state. Major connecting roads such as, the Benin Ore road, Lokoja down to the West, even Abuja to Jos, Jos to Zaria just to mention a few are all nothing to write home about. The deplorable state of these roads have caused great loss of lives and property of Nigerians and will continue to be death traps and den of unspeakable mischiefs for evil perpetrators. The irony of this preventable dilemma prior to this time has been that the Nigerian masses were always the victims of the ordeal of the deplorable state of roads across Nigeria, not until the tide changed when a member of the political class lost his life and that of his family members to this ravaging dilemma of bad roads.

As a nation that hopes to be industrialized in the future, it is high time we moved from the practice of having beautifully crafted infrastructural development on paper without corresponding results to show for it. One can only ponder as to why and what’s wrong? If we could have claimed to have spent so much on roads infrastructure and there is little or nothing to show for it, then, it high time we started to look critically at the factors that could be responsible. It is also largely not enough to be president and just sit back in Aso Rock and be ditching out directives for development. There is need for the president to show some level of seriousness to the course. The president and his cabinet members should go on routine survey of the state of our major roads in Nigeria so as to afford him and his team a better understanding and also enables him appreciate the plight of the citizenry. Moreover, he will only be performing his duty for which he was elected to the honorable office. I believe strongly that a trip from Aso Rock to Lagos via road will be enough to prove to the president that all we have been doing for decades has been promoting a ‘glorified infrastructural development on paper’ without corresponding results on ground. He will also be able to see for himself that even his own administration is guilty of this bandwagon that is ravaging our growth as a nation. Some might argue that the president has ministers saddled with this responsibility, well said, there are ministers but you will agree with me that third party report is nothing to be compared to an account of personal experience.

It is never too late for us as a nation to get it right, all that is needed is to start doing the right things the right way.

Jimoh Abiodun Babatunde is a Media expert, seasoned Journalist, Child Right advocate, Social and Political commentator. Email: iamabiodunbabatunde@gmail.com

Opinions expressed in this article are solely the writer’s, not ALEDEH’S

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