Tinubu: Today is My Day to Boast, The Deal is Done, The Dream is Realisable

*Flags off Lagos-Calabar coastal highway 

*FG directs sections 3 and 4 of highway to start from Akwa Ibom, Cross River

*Virtually commissions design, procurement for 1,000km Sokoto-Badagry highway, 461km Enugu-Abakaliki-Ogoja road, reconstruction of 330 roads, bridges across geo-political zonesR

Deji Elumoye in Abuja and Bennett Oghifo in Lagos

A visibly excited President Bola Tinubu described Monday’s flag-off of the 700-kilometre Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway as his day to boast, saying the deal is done, and the project is realisable.

Tinubu spoke from the Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island, Lagos, end of the project, which would traverse nine states along Nigeria’s coastal shoreline, while linking the A1, A2, A3, and A4 highway corridors vertically crossing the western, central and eastern regions of the country, north to south.

But Minister of Works, David Umahi, announced that the president had directed that sections three and four of the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway project should commence from Akwa Ibom and Cross River states, respectively. 

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar had questioned the rationale behind the commencement of the coastal highway from Lagos, instead of Calabar, the Cross River State capital.

At yesterday’s flag-off, Tinubu disclosed that the project would revolutionise transportation in Nigeria and bolster the unique economic strength of each zone. He added that the project was more than a mere road, but a symbol of hope, unity, and prosperity of the country.

He also virtually commissioned the design and the procurement for the 1,000-kilometre Sokoto-Badagry highway.

Tinubu commissioned the 461 kilometres Enugu-Abakaliki-Ogoja road, as well as the reconstruction of 330 roads and bridges across the six geo-political zones. He also inaugurated the 36.02 kilometres Apapa-Oworonshoki-Ojota expressway in Lagos, and the just renovated Third Mainland Bridge. 

The president stated, “Today is my day to boast. The deal is done. The dream is realisable. The determination to build a nation of prosperity is possible. We said we would build this road, and we are determined to do it. 

“Do not be afraid. We will do this road, and it will be a success for Nigeria, and we will do even more of this.”

The president said the project would give future generations a good landmark and memory to treasure while serving as a good precedent set for others to follow in timely provision of world-class infrastructure.

He said, “We have a road that will outlive all of us here. That is how to build the future. This project is more than a mere road. It is a symbol of hope, unity, and prosperity. 

“It will connect communities, bring prosperity to people, and create opportunities for millions of our people. For our nation to excel, we just have to be bold and courageous in our endeavours.”

Listing the benefits and opportunities to be created by the construction of the 700-kilometre road, Tinubu said it would provide direct employment for thousands of people and indirect jobs for tens of thousands. 

He added that it would open economic opportunities for millions of people, fast-track economic development, provide 30 million people with improved access to production and marketing centres, and facilitate the free movement of people.

Tinubu said the project would also complement the expansion of the country’s maritime industry in the wake of the recent decision by the United Nations to grant Nigeria an extension of its continental shelf by an additional 16,300 square kilometres.

“We must take advantage of these opportunities,” the president said, adding that the establishment of more export processing zones along the coastal states must be a priority for the country.

Tinubu commended Umahi for his diligent efforts towards the qualitative execution of the strategic coastal highway project. 

He also applauded the chairman of Hitech Construction Company, Ambassador Gilbert Chagoury, and Engr. Ronald Chagoury, whose company was handling the project, for being worthy stakeholders and for believing in the future of Nigeria. 

“Together, we worked to tame the Atlantic, and we turned a disaster into a great asset of value. We lost weight and took insults, but eventually, we tamed the Atlantic. We achieved our goals,” the president said.

He recounted how the indigenous company successfully executed a project to prevent the Atlantic Ocean from encroaching on critical sections of the Lagos shoreline.  

Earlier, Umahi announced that the president had directed that sections three and four of the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway project should commence from Akwa Ibom and Cross River states, respectively. 

Emphasising that due process was followed in awarding the contract for this transformative project, the minister described Tinubu as a visionary and courageous leader.

Umahi disclosed that over 40 new projects were ongoing across the country and all compensations up to kilometre six of the Lagos-Calabar project had been paid. 

The Oniru of Iruland in Lagos State, Oba Abdulwasiu Lawal, whose domain the road would pass through, assured the president that the community would ensure the removal of all bottlenecks. He stated that his people had made painful sacrifices for the project to materialise and called for adequate compensation to them.

In separate remarks, three governors –Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq of Kwara, and Hope Uzodinma of Imo – described the wide-ranging support from sub-nationals as a vote of confidence and support for the landmark project. 

Starting from Lagos and terminating in Cross River State, the coastal highway will include a spur to the North-central part of the country.

From Victoria Island, Tinubu also performed the virtual flag-off of the design and procurement for the 1,000 kilometres Sokoto-Badagry Highway, which is expected to connect Sokoto to Badagry in Lagos State, passing through Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, and Oyo states.

In addition, Tinubu virtually flagged off the design and procurement for the 461 kilometres Enugu-Abakaliki-Ogoja Road, which would traverse Benue, Kogi, and Nasarawa states, and terminate at Apo, in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The president, who was in Lagos to inaugurate and flag-off projects as part of activities marking his administration’s first anniversary, also performed the virtual flag-off of the reconstruction and rehabilitation of 330 roads and bridges across the six geo-political zones of the country.

Tinubu  seized the opportunity to inaugurate the newly reconstructed 36.02 kilometre Apapa-Oworonshoki-Ojota-Oshodi Expressway, connecting Nigeria’s premier ports – Apapa and Tin Can Island – to larger parts of Lagos State. 

A statement by Tinubu’s media adviser, Ajuri Ngelale, said the president, who performed the symbolic unveiling of the plaque of the concrete-paved road at the Gbagada stretch, also virtually inaugurated the recently rehabilitated Third Mainland Bridge. 

Tinubu, who was represented by Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio, said the Apapa-Oworonshoki-Ojota Expressway would enhance access to the ports, boost commercial activities, and spur economic development.

Originally constructed between 1975 and 1978, the road had deteriorated significantly over the years, causing severe delay in the evacuation of goods from Apapa Wharf. 

The reconstruction of the road was executed in four sections, using Continuously Reinforced Concrete Pavement (CRCP), by Dangote Industries Limited under the tax credit method of infrastructure funding, with Hitech Construction Nigeria Limited as the subcontractor.

The rehabilitated Third Mainland Bridge, the longest of three bridges connecting Lagos Island to the mainland, spans about 11.8 kilometres. It was commissioned by President Shehu Shagari in 1980 and completed by General Ibrahim Babangida in 1990.

The bridge recently underwent significant rehabilitation, starting during the days of the Muhammadu Buhari administration, to improve its structural integrity and extend the lifespan.

Akpabio said regarding the rehabilitation, “This is a great feat by any standards, and it is all for Nigeria. I congratulate the Ministry of Works and the contractors for the great work. 

”It is not only in Lagos that these good things are happening. From the Presidential Villa in Asokoro to the AYA Roundabout in the capital city (Abuja), you will notice a great deal of work and some of these projects will be commissioned this week.”

Umahi explained the reason for the use of concrete technology in constructing the road, and spoke on its durability, as well as the rising cost of bitumen used in making asphalt. 

“We want our contractors to migrate to the use of concrete technology for road construction,” the minister said, while describing the inauguration of the road as another plus on the utility of tax credits in the country. 

On the Third Mainland Bridge, he said the project went beyond mere rehabilitation. 

“We had to replace all the expansion joints, and we also noticed that over the years all the maintenance on the bridge was only for the surface and that created a lot of super elevation, potholes, and increased the dead load on the bridge, resulting in increased deflection,” he said. 

In his remarks, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Works, Dr. Yakubu Kofarmata, announced that Tinubu had directed the ministry to complete Abuja-Kano Road within one year. 

Kofarmata said, “What we are witnessing today is Nigeria working under the Renewed Hope Agenda of this administration, and the determination to have a better Nigeria where infrastructural facilities are functioning.”

Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr. Femi Hamzat, expressed gratitude to the president and the Federal Ministry of Works for fixing the roads, thereby reducing travel time from seven hours to one hour and 15 minutes.

Hamzat stated, “About two years ago, a lot of companies on the Apapa-Oworonshoki-Ojota Road moved from this axis because of the deplorable state of the road. 

“We are grateful to Mr. President, the Ministry of Works, Dangote Group, and Hitech Construction Limited for the current state of the road and also for the Third Mainland Bridge.”

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