Raheem Akingbolu

For Public–Private Partnership (PPP), to work for infrastructure delivery in Nigeria, there is urgent need for stakeholders to prioritise the review of existing legal framework, address adaptive and social challenges, effective communication and stakeholder management as well as gender and social inclusion, experts have stated.

These experts spoke at a two-day colloquium organised by the Center for Ethics and Sustainable Development (CESD), held at the University of Lagos. The theme of the forum was; ‘Reshaping the Infrastructure Delivery Landscape for Sustainable Development in Nigeria.

Some local and international bodies, include; Australia Awards Africa, Access Bank Plc, Globacom Nigeria Limited and Keystone Bank Plc, supported the colloquium.

A PPIP expert and Professor at the University of Queensland Business School, Brisbane, Australia, Neil Paulsen, said communication among all parties must be effectively carried out in order to foster easier and faster infrastructure delivery. He also emphasised the need to identify potential stakeholders and involve developmental institutions to facilitate proper delivery.

“One of the key success points of ensuring effective communication is Consensus-building and Stakeholder Engagement. Again, in all PPP initiatives, there must be clear and visible benefits for all stakeholders. That is why effective communication must be a two-way street in which the stakeholders must be kept abreast of information. Above all, infrastructure projects must make good sense to stakeholders,” Prof. Paulsen said.

While emphasising the importance of feedback mechanisms, the university don singled out tools which provide effective communication to include; information, consultation involvement, collaboration and empowerment. He also pointed out that communication for diverse audiences must be taken into account.

Earlier, the convener of the initiative, Dr. Olajumoke Akiode, who spoke on Gender and Social Inclusion (GESI) in Infrastructure Delivery, emphasised that gender and social inclusion was a collaborative and inclusive means of infrastructure delivery that caters to the concerns and needs of all stakeholders- men, women, the disabled, and other vulnerable groups. A 360 degree way of thinking that leads to better practice and outcomes should foster inclusion and empowerment of women and other vulnerable groups.

Infrastructure delivery is essentially about the people, their concerns, issues and needs should be incorporated into the project design. It is essential that Policy makers, financiers and project designers become GESI aware” Akiode said.

She added that GESI mainstreaming begins with the government and its inclusion in Infrastructure delivery would ensure that policy makers, project designers and other stakeholders wear the “others” shoes

A Lagos based legal practitioner, Mr. Babatunde Ogala, urged the government to review laws relating to infrastructural development in the country, arguing that most of the existing laws are outdated.

Ogala said legislative decisions that prevent development and implementations should be amended in order to achieve sustainable legal framework for infrastructure delivery in Nigeria.
Ogala said security, law and order are key items which ensure good delivery of infrastructural projects and a holistic approach to reshaping infrastructure delivery is essential.

On his part, Mr. Vince Onyejeli, Associate Director, KPMG Nigeria & West Africa, who spoke on “Traditional and PPIP Procurement Models: Adaptive and Social Challenges”, stated that PPP encompasses the participation and collaboration of all key players in the society. He said funding is a critical issue which needs to be addressed in its entirety. He also emphasized that social challenges responsible for infrastructure deficit include varied interests that defeat the purpose of PPP projects by making them more expensive than traditional procurement, political interference, improper management of stakeholders both those who will be impacted negatively or positively and those who will benefit from the projects

“Weak legal framework is also a problem. For instance, we have an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) which does not include the social sides. The existing laws do not put organizations under any obligation to attend to the social impact assessment of projects. The way forward is to adopt the social side of EIA, SEIA.” Onyejei stated.

Speaking on “Capital projects financing alternatives and risk management, Mr.BiodunOtunola, MD/CEO Planet Projects Ltd, said it is essential to look inward and develop a PPP model that can be workable for the Nigerian economy.

Otunola emphasised that moneys recovered from massive debt can be used to develop infrastructure.
“The best method of ensuring the free flow of execution of projects should be utilised in order to attract FDI. And the second option is to de-risk the country; whereby foreign reserves can serve as guarantee for PPP projects.” He said.

Mr. Anayo Nwosu, AGM Corporate Banking, Keystone Bank emphasized the necessity of feasibility studies in determining bankable PPP projects. He identified the steps involved as follows- Project overview, economic feasibility, political and total viability.