• Monday, May 27, 2024
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Everything about Lagos-Calabar coastal highway has wrong smells

Video: Lagos coastal highway demolition: FG flag off N2.75bn compensation to property owners

Anger with which Minister of Works David Umahi addresses the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway project unleashes pungent smells that are entirely unpleasant. They have cast a pall of mystery on the project that is clothed with an urgency that is unbecomingly breath-taking.

Call the Coastal Highway project Umahi’s delight. He likes to be at the centre of things, talk about big projects with a finality that forecloses anyone saying a thing about anything.

Umahi is not used to being questioned. His eight-year reign of Ebonyi State over was imperial, impervious, with dashes of perceptibility. It was beneath Umahi to be questioned.

Now he is being challenged. Journalists he would have incarcerated until their leaders genuflected for their release are asking him questions about his project. What do they know? Who are they?

Are they by any chance bigger than the President who has told him to proceed with the project? Umahi has really suffered in accepting an appointment that gives people the opportunity to question a former Deputy Governor, two-term Governor, former Senator, former presidential aspirant.

A garrulous fellow who makes his day listening to his own voice, he takes pride in elevating his participation in lawlessness. Re-elected in 2019 as Governor, on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, he was proud of fraternising with the All Progressives Congress, APC.

Umahi told a delegation from Ishielu and Onicha Local Government Area of the State, “Stay in one place. If you say you dey there (APC), know I am already there. If you go to APC, I am an APC member. If you go to PDP, I am there”. He made this position on APC known in early January 2020.

“I am the only person that does anti-party and nothing will happen. Any other person that does anti-party is gone. So, I am representing you in APC while you all stay in PDP. If you like, go and write it on social media.”

Only the emperor of Ebonyi could do whatever he liked. It was at the same event that he disclosed that he sent handsome Christmas gifts to APC leaders. One can imagine what else he brags about as his political achievements.

The Coastal Highway project could be an Umahi introduction to most Nigerians but he has adequately proven his belief in speaking before thinking.

Umahi is unable to explain anything about the Coastal Highway beyond defending what does not make any sense. His commitment to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu comes with the readiness to pause his own thinking unless it pleases the President.

What is so important about the Coastal Highway that it is priority over security and the attendant food scarcity? How did Hi Tech Construction Limited qualify for such complex project? Which other companies bided with Hi Tech? Who set the cost of the project at N15 trillion? Who is lending Nigeria the money?

These questions irritate Umahi to no end. He obviously thinks he is still in Ebonyi where the unstated consequences of asking questions were too weighty for anyone to scrutinise Umahi’s decisions.

Demolition of the Landmark Beach facilities, and the associated businesses, the loss of jobs, show government’s haste to do whatever it wants to do without thinking about the impact on the people.

A government that is promoting a $10 billion Diaspora Fund and inviting investors to Nigeria has made the demolition of one of Africa’s most iconic tourism facilities – worth over $100 million – a national assignment demanding full attention and to be executed with flourish. What message does the demolition send to investors?

Here are some of the putrescence of the project that Umahi cannot deodorise –

Is there an Environmental Social Impact Assessment, ESIA, report on the project? When an Arise TV reporter asked Umahi, he was enraged. Was there a report? Could the Minister share it with the media? It was for the government to issue the report, not the reporter, not the media, Umahi retorted, barely hiding his anger.

An effort may be on-going to produce an ESIA report. Umahi did not wait for the report to commerce demolition. How can a coastline construction, stretching over 753km, on uncharted terrain, be executed without an ESIA, contrary to our laws?

There is evidence that the project has no ESIA.

Again, why is this hurry about the project as if its non-execution will be the cessation of Nigeria’s existence?

Let us be fair to the hardly working Minister of Works to establish that the Ministry has commenced the processes for ESIA and RAP as the letter below shows.

FEDERAL MINISTRY OF WORKS

OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL CONTROLLER, LAGOS

E-mail: [email protected]

Telephon…………………..

Ref No.:.

Date: 18TH April, 20

LAGOS-CALABAR COASTAL HIGHWAY PROJECT PHASE 1: SECTION 1: AHMADU BELLO WAY TO ELEKO VILLAGE AREA IN THE LEKKI PENINSULA (CH 0+000-CH.

47+474)

INVITATION LETTER FOR SCOPING WORKSHOP FOR THE ESIA AND RAP STUDIES OF THE LAGOS-CALABAR COASTAL HIGHWAY PROJECT

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN

The Federal Ministry of Works (FMW) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is pleased to invite you to participate in a Scoping Workshop for the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) and Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) studies of the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway Project.

This workshop is a crucial step in the development process of this major infrastructure project and will provide a platform for stakeholders to engage, contribute, and shape the future of the project.

The Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway is a transformative project to enhance connectivity, economic growth, and transportation efficiency in Nigeria’s coastal states. Spanning a distance of 753 km, the highway will connect major cities and regions, including Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa-lbom, and Cross River States. The project footprint is divided into different sections. The first begins at Eko Atlantic’s Ahmadu Bello Road (0.0km) and terminates at Ibeju Lekki (47.5km). The second Section 2 begins at the point Section 1 stops and terminates at the Ogun State Border with Lagos State. These imply that Sections 1 and 2 are within Lagos State, Nigeria.

The ESIA and RAP studies are being conducted to ensure that the project is developed in a responsible and sustainable manner, in line with local regulations in Nigeria as well as international standards and frameworks. The ESIA will assess the project’s potential environmental and social impacts and propose mitigation measures, while the RAP will outline the compensation and assistance measures for people affected by land acquisition, involuntary resettlement, or loss of assets. These studies are essential for guiding the project’s implementation towards a sustainable development.

The Scoping Workshop details are as follows:

Date: Saturday, April 20, 2024

Location: Eko Hotel Grand Ball Room

. Time: 10:00 AM

For any inquiries or request further information about the project, you can send an email to [email protected]

Engr. (Mrs) O. I. Kesha

Federal Controller of Works, Lagos

Address: Federal Ministry of Works, Field Headquarters, Glass House, 2nd Floor

The invitation to stakeholders emphasises the imperatives of the ESIA and RAP for critical decisions on the project. Did Umahi, the engineer, not the politician, wait for the reports?

Are we to believe the reports were concluded in one week, and got the approval of the Ministry of Environment in that time frame? Which ESIA and RAP studies is Umahi using to implement this project?

Nigerians need answers. Our safety is at stake apart from the N15 trillion that may be thrown into the sea in the name of a project that courts malodorous scents.

Finally…

THE exceptional achievement of the immediate past Anambra State Commissioner of Police Aderemi Adeoye in establishing a cooperative club worth N20 billion is about to be lost in Adeoye’s denial that the business was worth that much. Controversies, a petition over the investment club have been parts of the tail-end of Adeoye’s career. He has challenged anyone with a clip of where he claimed to be a billionaire to produce it. Did the reports of the prosperity of the resourceful officer embarrass the police?

Isiguzo is a major commentator on minor issues