The delay in the completion of the Kaduna-Zaria-Kano expressway is a major topic in the northern part of Nigeria. Recently, I witnessed a debate between two friends in Jimeta, Yola, Adamawa State, on the completion of the expressway. The duo debated the role of Abubakar D. Aliyu, Minister of State for Works and Housing in the delayed completion of the expressway, considering the fact that he is from the north.
Whenever the unpalatable tale of the delay of the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing projects in the north is mentioned, Aliyu’s name often pops up. This may be due to no other reason than he is from the north; a politician, an accomplished engineer, a member of the Council of Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), and has the record of being the longest-serving deputy governor in Nigeria – 10 and a half years as the deputy governor of Yobe State. With the aforementioned, Aliyu cannot run away from being mentioned and looked upon for criticism and some explanations.
When asked, the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing explained why the construction work on the Kaduna-Zaria-Kano expressway is taking long to complete. They clarified that the project did not begin early as planned because some members of the National Assembly demanded the expansion of the road from two lanes to three lanes, to which the executive obliged.
After the directive from the presidency, there was a need to redesign and accommodate the expansion. The redesigning meant the realignment of 40 different bridges on the road and other technical readjustments. After undergoing all the processes of procurement for redesigning to three lanes, the ministry received another instruction to revert to two lanes due to paucity of funds. These were the major reasons for the delay.
Apart from popping up in debates on the state of federal roads, Aliyu’s name comes up frequently in Adamawa State. Though having Yobe State as state of origin, Abubakar and his late brother, former governor of Yobe State, Senator Mamman Ali were born and raised in Jimeta-Yola. Many people in Jimeta pay attention to their affairs, as they are seen as role models. In his current position, Abubakar has gone through the mills to contribute to the ministry’s policies and programs on highway construction and rehabilitation; infrastructural planning and design; and the monitoring and maintenance of federal roads and bridges, nationwide. Aliyu has been actively involved in driving initiatives aimed at improving the country’s infrastructure. The Jimeta-raised technocrat was integral to the plans by the federal government to build 500 houses for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Zamfara, Borno, Adamawa and Katsina States, including the construction of affordable housing nationwide. He is also contributing in driving the federal government’s wider target to cut the housing deficit in the country by 20 million in 2033. As a seasoned engineer, Aliyu is a round peg in a round hole in the ministry of works and housing. With the bureaucracy of the Nigerian administrative system, which often delays achieving monumental projects like the Kaduna-Zaria-Kano expressway, the country needs the expertise of technocrats like Aliyu to take its infrastructure development to the next level.
Zayyad I. Muhammad, Jimeta, Adamawa State