PRIORITISATION AND OPTIMISATION PROBLEMS IN HIGHWAY INFRASTUCTURES FUNDING IN NIGERIA

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29TH November, 2016, I was at home preparing for work, a discussion ensued about the state of Nigerian highways on Radio Nigeria Network. In the news, they emphasized urgency for the reintroduction of toll gates across the country.

If my memory serves me right, around 2004, the government of former president Obasanjo used public funds to demolish these toll facilities on the ground of low or lack of remittance to the government cover, now the present government is thinking of using people’s funds to rebuild toll gates. This comes as a result of inconsistency in public policies. Let me try and think for the former president more succinctly, the proceeds from tolls were not declared fairly and transparently to the Federal government of Nigeria. Who is then to be blamed for this? Government or the people? Who bears the burden of ineffectiveness in government? You and I get punished for the error we never committed. Let this be clear, I am not against the reintroduction of toll gates, in fact I see it as one of the ways of achieving sustainable highway infrastructure finance in Nigeria.

Where I have problem is the procurement strategy for highways infrastructures in Nigeria. I will get to this in more details later. ⁠⁠⁠The Nigerian people have not enjoyed the benefits commensurate with the level of government spending on road and other infrastructure projects across the country. According to Federal Ministry of Power Works and Housing, 17% of roads belong to the Federal government, 16% belong to the State government, while 67% belong to the local government.

Paucity of funds to the government cover makes it unavoidable to look elsewhere in sourcing for funding to our infrastructural deficits. The traditional approach where government bears all the risks, and provides all the cash has failed sustainability test.

Public Private partnership (PPP) is however a suggested and possible alternative in procuring infrastructure. PPP is defined as “a contractual arrangement between a public-sector agency and private sector concern, whereby resources and risks are shared for the purpose of delivering a public service, or for developing public infrastructure.”

PPP is not one cap fit all, but it is recommended that commercially viable projects can be procured through this mechanism. The success of PPP is unequivocally dependent on legal and institutional framework for it to thrive. Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, (ICRC) needs to be strengthen for better performance. Creation of PPP departments at various agencies of government that saddled with procurement of built assets would be a great gain.

The attainment of sustainable infrastructure is infeasible even if Federal Government devote the whole 2017 budget of 7.28trillion on construction. Private sector participation in term of capital assistance, bridging skills gap, and assistance in policy and framework formation are therefore important.

Topnotch!

AYODELE FALEYE,PMP

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Ayo Faleye

A writer

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