• Monday, March 04, 2024
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BusinessDay

Infrastructure master plan: Shifting the buck to NASS

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Without any iota of doubt, Nigeria is faced with a myriad of challenges, one of which borders on infrastructure. As a  leading African, and indeed black  nation, it is quite disturbing that successive leadership in the country has not done enough to tackle this major problem, which today has left the country with poor and decrepit infrastructure. From infrastructure such as energy, (power, oil and gas), transport (roads, rail, ports and airports), housing, water to Information and Communication Technology (ICT), it is very obvious that the nation is not harnessing these resources and synergising rightly.

Succinctly put, the state of this infrastructure has become so sordid owing to lack of sustainability and adequate planning. And in realisation of this missing link in the nation’s infrastructure plan, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, precisely in July 2012, approved that the National Planning Commission (NPC) take the centre stage or driver’s seat in the realisation of this laudable project code named National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan (NIIMP) for the country.

With various segments of the society making input, the road to the making was tough, rough, undulating and challenging, yet quite rewarding.  The commission, in collaboration with the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), developed a framework for the NIIMP, after which it consulted widely with major key stakeholders in the infrastructure sector and harvesting ideas to enrich the framework. Working groups on various thematic areas of infrastructure also did a yeoman job.

And in demonstration of the Jonathan administration’s avowed commitment to realising this, the project saw the light of the day less than three weeks of appointment of Dr. Sulaiman Olanrewaju Abubakar as the Minister/Deputy Chairman of the commission. This followed the adoption of the draft by the National Economic Council (NEC), but not without further and rigorous scrutiny.

Coming rather at an injury time, the minister’s background as an academic has properly prepared him for the challenges of getting things in place in the nation’s data base as the commission is often prided.

And in less than another three weeks again, the Federal Executive  Council (FEC) just last Wednesday  ratified the programme of action for accelerated development of the infrastructure , pushing the buck to the legislature to quickly pass a law to that effect upon receipt of an executive bill still being expected  from the president.

Addressing journalists at the end of the FEC meeting, the minister reiterated that the plan  will be implemented over a period of thirty years (2014–2043), hinting that it will adopt a coordinated approach to its development and will among others, address lack of linkages in the infrastructure sector, based on the country’s  economic growth, projection and   aspirations.

Yes, a whooping N485 trillion ($3.05trillion), as ratified by FEC to leapfrog the project, could appear massive, but the benefits of this can’t be quantified in terms of the dynamism it will bring into the nation’s economy. A breakdown of this figure shows that $166.1 billion would be needed to implement its first phase, covering 2014-2018.

This current initiative, which in a way appears novel in Nigeria, has been the practice globally with notable countries like Malaysia, India, Singapore and China, which today are industrial giants having gone through that path.  Apart from just supporting the growth of the national economy, the adoption of NIIMP in those countries has been accompanied by a remarkable private sector inflow of investment for infrastructure development.

More than any other thing, the NIIMP also enhances competitiveness of these countries, and as part of expected benefits, a prioritized projects and programmes whose implementation will address the current deficit in infrastructure in the country has emerge from the plan to change Nigeria for the better..

For the youthful minister, haphazard or staggered planning will only leave the country more disorganised, and leaving it off the Vision 20:20:20 track.  The reality is that this master plan is one that must be fully supported and backed by all stakeholders, because the future of Nigeria and its people truly lie on this

With the assurance from the executive that the NIIMP Bill would soon be forwarded to the National Assembly for proper documentation and framework to give it a legal bite, it is jut hoped that the legislature would speed up work and get same passed very quickly. Certainly, this is an injury time and Nigerians can’t afford to wait any farther. Definitely, the choice of Sulaiman to succeed Shamsudeen Usman, another egghead who started the project, is certainly a right one in the right direction.

 Abdulrahman is special assistant (media) to the honourable minister of national planning 08033489034