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Afenifere: The Tinubu Administration’s ₦1trillion contract, a tint of personal interests as his policies continues to starve the country.

How would President Tinubu award to his bosom friend a Trillion Naira contract while the lives of millions of our people and their livelihoods are systematically being destroyed in the name of cost cutting by removing subsidies and the devaluation of the Naira?

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Mogaji Gboyega Adejumo
National Publicity Secretary, Afenifere.

Prince Justice Faloye
Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Afenifere.

There was a brief renewed hope on Monday 26 February 2024 that President Tinubu was about to curb the rising wasteful high cost of governance by promising to implement the 2012 Steve Oronsaye Report commissioned by President Jonathan. Even though there was some justified skepticism since Buhari’s APC had also used the same report as a distraction. However any glimmer of hope that president Tinubu had turned to true progressive change was extinguished when he awarded the N1 trillion Coastal Highway project to Hitech Construction Ltd owned by Chagoury his bosom friend. A brazen conflict of interest and corrupt abuse of power?

How would President Tinubu award to his bosom friend a Trillion Naira contract while the lives of millions of our people and their livelihoods are systematically being destroyed in the name of cost cutting by removing subsidies and the devaluation of the Naira?

This paradoxical situation raises a number of questions to whether the huge project is justified in our development plans, and whether a proper competitive tendering and bidding process was conducted before such a huge contract was awarded to HITECH, a construction company, known for one of the highest rates, several times the world benchmark. President Tinubu has been perceived to have been behind the award of juicy road construction projects for Hitech in most of the Southwestern states where the APC has being in government.

Aside querying whether the contract was nepotistic and not conforming with the best practices all over the world, We, The People of Nigeria, must ask whether the contract has any productive added value and multiplier effects, even at these precarious times

First and foremost, there is already an uncompleted dual carriageway all the way from Lagos to Port Harcourt known as the East-West Road, which runs parallel a few kilometers alongside this new proposed coastal highway. The East-West Road goes from Lagos to Shagamu to Ore to Benin to Warri to Ughelli to Elele and finally to Port Harcourt, which is a pertinent and productive project, designed to ensure economic connectivity and growth, weaving through the largest industrial hubs in the southwest, southeast and the southsouth zones. However, the Tinubu’s Administration’s proposed Coastal Highway appears to pass through Igbokoda in southwest, and probably Warri before getting to Port Harcourt, a trifling venture not showing any worthwhile incremental benefit or development to industrial towns and cities along its way.
A safely international comparison with best practices using The USA, UK and other Developed Nations reveal the use of interstate trunk roads linking coastal cities from the interior like the originally intended East-West Road — In The USA there is the I-95 (Maine-NY-Florida) along the interior of the East Coast, I-5 (Seattle-LA) along the West Coast interior, AI (M) from London to Edinburgh. None of these countries builds a strictly coastal highway of few tows and cities like the one proposed by the Tinubu administration because it is simply wasteful!

The most important economic empowering infrastructure needed by the South is the Lagos-Calabar railway, not another new highway. Along with modern practices, the railways to carry heavy haulage is always going to be the best infrastructure compared to roads which in Nigeria do not appear to last half their lifetime due to heavy trucks and trailers with their weights, more than a little too much for our roads, mostly built without adequate drainage systems.

President Jonathan in 2014 signed the Lagos-Calabar railway contract to be financed and built by the Chinese, but the APC sabotaged and cancelled the contract. Apart from being a more efficient transport mode, the way towards industrialization is a comprehensive railway system that must be initiated with three East-West railway lines – Lagos-Calabar, Ilorin-Yola and Sokoto-Maiduguri, which will enable states, towns and private sector build feeder routes to every nook and corner of Nigeria. Railways are the launchpad for industrialization in every developing country seeking to pertinently industrialize after identifying the active and potential hubs, bearing in mind that iron, metal, heavy manufacturing are part of its huge multiplier effects that will spur rapid growth within a decade. With further huge employment and income multiplier effects in other sectors adequate measures must be taken to include the growing number of automobile assembly plants, particularly in the southeast, incorporating the access to the seaports and railways the need for transportation to and fro of spares and assembled products with minimal ease.

The Newly formed Economic Advisory Council and The Oronsaye Report

It appears once again that this administration never truly prepared for governance. What we see time and time again is management of the reactive kind. For a president elect that had a period of three months before Inauguration to rustle up, in panic, a so-called tripartite economic advisory team amidst a tanking-out of the national economy only shows that:
1. Showmanship, a la “fuel subsidy is gone!” disguised as action precedes thought and reflection in the rule book of this regime;
2. The regime had no economic plan worth the name, ab initio; and
3. In the past eight months, the economy had been left in the hands of incompetent economic gamblers, bootleggers and buccaneers and mere bag carriers, toying with the lives of 200 million Nigerians.

It is not when a vehicle stalls or runs into a ditch that you start to ask if the driver was drunk or not, or to frantically go searching for where the toolbox is. Eight precious and irreplaceable months have been lost already, when party hacks bumped into each other, pretending to be running an economy. We can only hope that the remiss does not prove fatal…

President Tinubu is showing himself to be hardly up to the task of running the affairs of our country. Even the touted “Full adoption of the Oronsaye Report”, as announced by his government, is believed to be insincere and a distraction from his economic policy failure. Rolling from two popular but disastrous economic policies – subsidy removal and Naira devaluation – he will be worsening the economic situation by laying off hundreds of thousands of Nigerians, without creating alternative jobs. And so, the question arises:
1. Did the president not know he will be implementing the Oronsaye report before creating new ministries!??
2. The president it appears could not have been committed to “FULL IMPLEMENTATION OF THE ORONSAYE REPORT”, when he appointed 48 ministers…. Or he was!??
3. Are we not being sent on yet another “Àródan”, a wild goose chase. An administration, adroit at gaslighting the people with self effacing policies, hardly capable of being straight, faced with a day before a nationwide strike, did the usual distraction by dropping the promise of implementing the Oronsaye report on the laps of hapless, quick-to-fall-for-the-flair citizenry!??
4. A day after the “Full implementation of the Oronsaye report”, same government also announced that, “no one will lose his or her job”, is it not imperative therefore to ask, is it possible to commit to the Full implementation of the Oronsaye report, without downsizing!?? And to also ask, is not not because of the over bloated civil service and to curb the wastage in the system that the Oronsaye report states clearly as at then that the full implementation of the report will lead to government saving ₦Billions of Naira!??
5. The Tinubu administration also announced the setting up of an 8 man panel to come up with recommendations on how to fully implement the Oronsaye report. Is this not tantamount to the issuing of another “White paper”, the third to be issued on the same report since 2014!??

A Government White Paper is a document putting forward proposals for law-making in a policy area. It serves as a way the government comes up set a set of rules to regulate and implement a decision. President Tinubu’s White paper is going to be the third with yet a large sums of money set a side for yet another exercise that may yet turn out to be a mere distraction.

Chief Femi Falana has pointed out that the policy is outdated, Otiose since at the time it was written, it “recommended the reduction of 263 agencies to 161″, but now twelve years after, ‘the number of ministries, departments and agencies have increased to 1,316”, with even Tinubu creating new ministries and agencies. Tinubu must ensure he does his homework, unlike with fuel subsidu removal and floating Naira, he should analyze the socioeconomic impact including multipler effects of laying off hundreds of thousands people on the economy.

It is true that the Civil Service is bloated with 1.5 million workers but in the absence of industrial jobs, it is like an employment subsidy to spread income. Just like the subsidy issue is tied to government inefficiency in building and operating local refineries and corruption in subsidy payments, the government failure to lay an industrial foundation to provide employment resulted in the over-absorption of labour into civil service.


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