When the President Muhammadu Buhari administration assumed office in 2015, the total budget for Federal Roads by the outgoing PDP government of former President Goodluck Jonathan was 18 billion Naira, which is only about 25% of the Lagos State roads budget for that year. The APC Legacy Awareness and Campaign, a voluntary think-tank group of the governing party, can report that this was the infrastructure situation that the APC administration of President Buhari inherited. The persistent skeletal funding translated to abandoned or slow-moving road projects across the country.
Therefore, the APC administration of PresidentBuhari’s first priorities were to increase the amount of funding available for road projects, while also ensuring the resumption of work on abandoned projects. In 2016, the President’s first full year in office, the roads budget went up to 260 billion Naira, for which about 200 billion Naira was released.
Since then the Buhari Administration has cumulatively devoted significantly more resources to road and transport infrastructure than any other administration since 1999, and the results are starting to emerge, in roads, bridges, highways, rail lines and stations, and air and sea port upgrades.
In the area of roads and bridges, work has since resumed on several stalled, abandoned or solution-defying road projects that were inherited, like the Loko-Oweto Bridge, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Sagamu-Benin Expressway, the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway, Onitsha-Enugu Expressway, Kano-Maiduguri Expressway, Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Expressway, Obajana-Kabba Road, Ilorin-Jebba Road, Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki Road, and several others are in progress, with some already close to completion.
A brand new bridge in Ikom, Cross River State, has just been completed, to replace a dilapidated steel truss bridge originally built five decades ago, as has a new border bridge linking Nigeria and Cameroon, in the spirit of regional integration.
Construction work on the Second Niger Bridge, a contract awarded multiple times between 2002 and 2015, but constantly stalled for lack of funding, finally kicked off in 2018, with guaranteed funding, for the first time in the history of the project. In 2017, construction finally commenced on the Bodo-Bonny Bridges and Road (linking Bonny Island to the Rivers Mainland), a project first mooted decades ago, and awarded a number of times without success, prior to the Buhari Administration.
Currently, according to the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, there are around 900 active road contracts, covering the construction, reconstruction or rehabilitation of more than 13,000km of Federal roads and highways across the country, out of a total of 35,000km of Federal roads in existence.
To break the financing jinx for large-scale infrastructure projects, the Buhari Administration has implemented a number of landmark and innovative methods, including the following:
● Setting up the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF), in 2018, with $650m in seed funding
● Deploying and executing Presidential Executive Order 7, the Road Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme
● Launching the Highway Development and Maintenance Initiative (HDMI)
● Approving the establishment of a multi-billion dollar Infrastructure Corporation, InfraCorp, to mobilize and deploy funds towards viable, transformational infrastructure projects
● Issuance of Sovereign Sukuk Bonds (the first in the country’s history) dedicated to road infrastructure
● Approving the National Public Buildings Maintenance Policy, the first in the country, to create an economy out of infrastructure maintenance.
All of these initiatives have been carefully designed and introduced to ensure that financing is no longer a challenge for road construction, rehabilitation and maintenance, and to make the private sector a key partner alongside the Government in the development of critical road infrastructure.
President Buhari’s infrastructure vision is a carryover of the groundbreaking legacy of his days in charge of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), one of the most impactful infrastructure interventions ever seen in Nigeria between Independence and the start of the fourth Republic.
Today, two decades after the PTF was rested, the President is surpassing his own infrastructure records, and Nigerians are invited to follow the progress of these projects, and enjoy the emerging benefits, in terms of jobs, improved journey times, enhanced logistics, and a boost to local and sub-national economies.
The President is determined to set new standards in terms of federal commitment to upgrading national infrastructure, and there is now no doubt that some of the projects Nigerians have most looked forward to in decades, will be completed and commissioned in the time between now and May 29, 2023, when the President’s second and final term in office comes to an end.
Barr. Ismail Ahmed
Mr. Lanre Issa-Onilu
Mr. Tolu Ogunlesi
Mr. Salihu Moh. Lukman
August 4, 2021