Fashola: Buhari’s Investment in Infrastructure about to Pay Off

Babatunde Raji Fashola

Chineme Okafor in Abuja

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, yesterday said that the investments made so far by President Muhammadu Buhari, in Nigeria’s road, housing and power sectors would soon come to full fruition, thus urging Nigerians to give the administration some more time for that to happen.

Speaking to reporters at a press briefing in Abuja, Fashola who claimed that the government inherited an infrastructure budget of N18.132 billion in 2015, and expanded it to N394 billion in 2018, had done well in fixing Nigeria’s poor infrastructure.

He said the expansive infrastructure budget was possible despite the government earning less revenue as a result of a dip in oil prices, and then blamed past governments for not effectively utilising revenue earned from crude oil sales to develop the country’s roads, power and housing infrastructure.

While presenting what he termed as a three-year scorecard of his ministry, Fashola said the government had initiated and implemented a good policy to upgrade the country’s infrastructure stock, but would now need Nigerians to give it some more to become fruitful and beneficial to the country and its citizens.

“We have prepared for the worst and we now hope for the best. The success of our plans now depend on the cooperation of road users who must drive carefully and energy users who must conserve energy when not needed.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we came to this job in November 2015 with a mountain to climb. With careful thinking, planning, and a dedicated team of public officers, we have a firm foothold on our way to the top. Our policies have shown what is possible with critical sectors recording growth,” said Fashola.

“What remains is time that it takes for the full harvest of the fruits of our policies in plenitude and prosperity of our people. We cannot go back to the bottom of the mountain when the plateau is now within reach,” he added.

While fielding questions from reporters on the poor road networks in the country, the minister admitted this existed, but blamed the past administrations for the situation.

He said: “Yes, we know they are bad. There is no magic to it. If those who came before us had done their work, we won’t meet bad road. That is the simple truth. We earned $100 per barrel of crude oil for about five years.

“We knew what other countries like Abu Dhabi (UAE), Saudi Arabia did with their own, what did we do with ours? So, this is a president and a government that is now trying to do more with less that it has. So, give us some time, we will get there.”

He explained the federal government was doing road projects across every state of the federation especially abandoned projects like the Lagos – Ibadan Expressway; the Second Niger Bridge; Enugu-Port Harcourt Road; and Jebba-Mokwa Road, among others.

According to him, in 2016, about 277 kilometres of road was constructed, 345 kilometres rehabilitated, while 17,749 people were employed in the process.

For 2017, he said 488 kilometres of roads were constructed while 256 kilometres were rehabilitated and 31,227 persons engaged in the process.

And, so far in 2018, he added that 497 kilometres of road has been constructed, 284 kilometres rehabilitated and 30,402 persons employed. He said the figure could rise in December due to more rehabilitation projects going on nationwide.

In the power sectors, the minister said: “With regard to power, we have improved on what we met, by increasing generation from 4,000MW to 7,000MW, transmission from 5,000MW to 7,000MW and distribution from 2690 MW to 5,222MW.”

Turning to the housing sector, he stated: “Let me also point out that our pilot National Housing Programme has led to a nationwide housing construction being undertaken in the 34 states where we have received land. No less than 1,000 people are employed on each site apart from the staff of the successful contractors.”

“These sites are an ecosystem of human enterprise, where artisans, vendors, suppliers and craftsmen converge to partake of opportunities and contribute to nation building. These are some of the most vulnerable people for whom President Buhari has delivered.

Our parastatals like the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) and the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) are also contributing. Policies like the reduction of equity contribution from five per cent to zero per cent for those seeking mortgage loans of up to N5 million, and reduction from 15 per cent to 10 per cent for those seeking loans over N5 million are helping to ease access to housing.”