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Setback for infrastructure development as ICRC boss, Izuwah, dies at 55

... friends, colleagues mourn

The director- general/chief executive of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Chidi Izuwah, has passed on at the age of 55. The sad event took place Tuesday, March 16, 2021, after a protracted illness, according to sources within the organisation.

His death marks a huge setback to the nation’s quest for infrastructure development, a project that the late Izuwah was passionate about. In the last two years, his efforts yielded over $15 billion to the national treasury. Two months ago, his Commission began the process of concessioning 12 key federal roads through Public-Private Partnership (PPP) estimated to generate millions of naira to the economy and improve road infrastructure.

In a message to staff of the Commission on Tuesday, Mike Ohiani, acting director-general of the Commission, wrote: “With a heavy heart I announce the passing away of our DG, Engr. Chidi Izuwah. You will be notified in due course about the burial arrangement. May his soul rest in peace amen.”

Known for his anti-corruption posture, his recent timely intervention through the Federal Ministry of Finance to block sources of revenue leakage by streamlining the receipt of all revenues from the PPPs yielded positive result with a sum of N2,400,689,340.00 being paid into a Special Concession Account (SCA) within few months of its operation. The special account was Izuwah’s initiative for which he made so many enemies.

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Before then, funds generated from PPPs were neither accounted for nor the whereabouts of such funds known both to the government and the public.

According to the late director-general, “Prior to opening of the account, the revenue accruing to government via concession and PPP arrangements is not known and this had led to abuse and leakages by Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and Concessionaires.”

He listed the benefits of the SCA to include, effective monitoring of revenue accruing to Government from PPP projects, assisting Government in economic planning, national budgeting and redistribution of income/revenue allocation, supporting the Federal Government Economic Recovery & Growth Plan (ERGP) initiative on infrastructure provision, providing information to policy & decision makers, among others.

Izuwah was appointed substantive DG of the ICRC by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019 upon confirmation by the Senate. Prior to that he was executive director, Public Private Partnership Resource Department, and director, Support Services Department in the Commission. And that was after an impactful period of exceptional achievements in acting capacity including the declaration of the ICRC as the African Infrastructure Regulator of the Year 2018 by Africa Investor Magazine,

He joined the ICRC in 2009 as the pioneer executive director, Public Private Partnership Resource Department (ED P3RD) where he set up the Department from scratch. In this role, he was responsible for catalysing Public and Private expertise and resources towards putting in place a world class PPP pre-contract regulatory framework and guidelines for driving the preparation and development phase of Federal PPP Projects. During his period as ED P3RD, the ICRC was declared the African PPP Champion for the year 2010. Engr. Izuwah was the ED P3RD until June 2016 when he was made the Executive Director, Support Services Department (EDSS).

A graduate of Civil Engineering from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and a Master’s degree in Hydraulic Engineering from the University of New Castle Upon Tyne in the United Kingdom, Izuwah is a Harvard, Wharton, Columbia University and Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad Executive Education Alumni.

He started his career as a lecturer in Fluvial Hydraulics and Water Power Engineering at the University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria in 1986. Thereafter, he held several senior oil & gas asset management positions in a career spanning over 21 years with SPDC (Shell Nigeria). He was at various times Project Manager and Contract Manager for the Deepwater Bonga Mooring and Installation Contract, in this role Izuwah led the team that towed and moored the Bonga FPSO (the largest FPSO in the world then) offshore Nigeria. He also led the team that fabricated the Bonga SPM Buoy (largest and most technological advanced deepwater offloading buoy then). Both the Bonga FPSO and SPM Buoy are currently serving the nation producing and exporting crude from the world class Bonga field and earning huge revenues for Nigeria’s development and prosperity.

Already, reactions have trailed the announcement of Izuwah’s death. Emeka Wogu, former minister of labour and productivity, Victor Ndoma-Egba, former Senate leader and chairman, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and Nkechi Nwogu, chairman, Governing Council, University of Calabar, all described Izuwah’s death as very sad and pathetic. Wogu said it was regrettable that the ICRC DG, died fighting corruption in Nigeria, stressing that his efforts in improving the level of infrastructure development in Nigeria would not be in vain.

Also reacting to the death, Manji Yarling, a close aide of the late DG and acting head of media, ICRC, said, “We were told yesterday (Tuesday) in the office platform that he was back to Nigeria and was recuperating and we were happy. We had no idea that the recuperation will be in eternity as at today.”

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