James Emejo in Abuja
The federal government has expressed its determination to put an end to what it described as lack of competence on the part of the public sector compared to their private sector counterparts.
This, according to the government, leads to situations whereby the country had been denied value for money and often ended up being short-changed in the execution of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs).
Permanent Secretary, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Political and Economic Affairs, Mr. Gabriel Aduda, said worried by the development, government has taken steps boost the negotiation skills of the public sector to enable them secure better deals for the country going forward.
Speaking at the opening of a Public Private Partnership Financing Policy and Law Masterclass organised by the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), he stressed the need for the country to seize the opportunity in PPPs to bridge its huge infrastructure deficit.
He said: “Often times, between the two basic participants, the private and public sector, you find adequate knowledge coming from the investor end and often times, government on the other hand is lightly equipped. But we are saying not anymore.
“So we want to see how government can better equip itself to enhance its negotiation skills and methodologies such that whenever we engage in PPPs, we ensure that government is getting value for money and that government is not being short-changed and that at the end of the day, they will ensure economic growth and Nigeria is better for it.”
Aduda said: “The truth of the matter is that we cannot afford to be left behind. The only way we can meet our infrastructure development needs as a nation is to go on public private partnerships.
“The infrastructure masterplan says we have a backlog that is estimated at about $3 trillion and that is a lot of money.
“Government will not be so rich enough to provide that kind of money. The only way we would be able to do and meet our infra deficit is to join hands with the private sector for PPP to be able to pull our weight and be able to deliver on infrastructure.
“And as we all know, expand and provision of infrastructure directly turns into job creation, opening up spaces and opportunities, overall economic growth a day so we cannot afford to be behind. This is what developed nations have done and that is what we need to do.”
However, the Director General/Chief Executive, ICRC, Mr. Chidi Izuwah, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his continued to support the ICRC particularly the recently establishment of the ICRC infrastructure academy.
He said the idea was to capacitate Nigerians in Infrastructure delivery similar to the Project Academy in the UK.
He said: “So that public servants and the private sector have the capacity because that’s essentially the most important thing.
“In 2018, we have done very well… But we need to build on the successes because the infrastructure is huge and it is only when we accelerate in a massive manner that infrastructure delivery that we can create a Nigeria of our dream and take the country to the next level.”
He said massive infrastructure projects should be expected this year following the signing of Executive Order 007 by Buhari.
“We are also looking at the health and education sectors and across the entire infrastructure space you will see many more projects.
“These will change the landscape and shipping in Nigeria. We cannot solve the traffic problems in Lagos if we don’t have alternative port and routes to evacuate and bring goods into our country.”