President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday said that the recent data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) that Nigeria’s economy grew by 3.4 per cent in 2021 was a testament that his efforts at revamping the country’s infrastructural base was working.
In his acceptance speech at the 7th Edition of the African Road Builders Conference and Trophee Babacar Ndiaye award in Abuja, Buhari stressed that the policies and programmes that had been inaugurated over the years were beginning to bear fruits.
The Babacar Ndiaye Africa Road Builders Award is organised by Acturoutes, an information platform on infrastructure and roads in Africa, and Media for Infrastructure and Finance in Africa (MIFA), a network of African journalists specialised in road infrastructure.
Sponsored by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the award was created in honour of Babacar Ndiaye, President of the AfDB Group from 1985 to 1995.
“Our most recent GDP results of 3.40 per cent, the biggest in the last seven years clearly show that the construction sub-sectors and related sub-sectors of the economy were among the big performers of the growth surge,” the president said.
Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN) expressed delight that Nigeria had begun playing her membership and leadership role in African institutions and in the pursuit of achieving their objectives.
The president stated that Nigeria’s collaboration with the AfDB had been productive and results are now manifest in projects like the Mfum-Bamenda Bridge that connects Nigeria and the Republic of Cameroon.
He acknowledged the support of the bank in financing feasibilities, consultancies and pre-construction work on the Lagos-Abidjan corridor comprising Nigeria, the Republic of Benin, Togo, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire which is part of Trans African Highway No. 7 from Dakar in Senegal to Lagos in Nigeria.
He listed the Lagos-Badagry corridor, Second River Niger Bridge, the Enugu – Abakaliki to Mfum Highway, the 375Km Abuja to Kano road, the Apapa-Oworonshoki Highway, the Suleja-Minna Highway, the Calabar-Itu-Odukpani Highway as some examples of over 13,000 kilometres of road and bridge construction, expansion and rehabilitation nationwide.
“They have been a major boost for the growth of our economy, keeping people at work; driving a supply value chain, stimulating productivity at quarries, cement factories, steel factories, and the petroleum sectors for lubricants, fuel and bitumen.
“Very evidently, infrastructure investment is good for the economy. By building roads, we are building economies,” the president said.
Speaking on the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF), Managing Director of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), Uche Orji, said projects worth about N1.52 trillion were ongoing nationwide, but had recently been reworked to about N1.26 trillion.
According to him, the ongoing projects are expected to have positive social and economic nationwide impact on the Nigerian economy, including creation of jobs and facilitation of poverty alleviation.
“The PIDF will complete four critical projects costing a total of $5.6 billion (N2.3 trillion). The financing of these projects has the potential to yield between 274, 000 and 616,000 new direct and indirect jobs.
“It will boost economic activity and spur an increase in investments, agriculture and trade between the commercial cities due to the improved and quicker access to market.
“The roads will significantly open the economic corridors leading to massive improvement in manufacturing, trading and commercial activities driven by the ease of movement of people, services and raw materials.
“They will drive economic growth through diversification: the increased economic activity will contribute to
the growth and diversification of the Nigerian economy and attract investments to drive infrastructure development,” he noted.
Quoting AfDB and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Orji stated that for every $1.00 billion invested in infrastructure in developing economies, between 49,000 and 110,000 jobs are created.
Speaking on: “The Need for Road Investments and Effects on Energy Distribution,” Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, Mallam Mele Kyari said that in order to address the plight faced by petroleum product marketers in transportation which affects nationwide distributand, the NNPC recently keyed into the Federal Government Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme.
Under the scheme, he reiterated that the NNPC is providing funding to the tune of N621 billion for the rehabilitation of 1,804.6 Km of identified federal roads which are also critical to NNPC’s operations spread across 15 states.
He explained that the benefits of NNPC’s participation in the scheme include sustaining energy security through efficient distribution of petroleum products across the country and also improving other economic activities that are dependent on road transportation and social benefits
Kyari said that road infrastructure remains one of the most critical aspects of national development which unlocks many socio-economic benefits for the Nigerian citizens, adding that the NNPC will continue to play its role as an enabler.
Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja