December 10, 2013 | Opinion/Feature
LEKKI PORT: DECOUPLING POLITICS AND GOVERNANCE
It is common, passing through some of the nation's State capitals, especially those governed by opposition political parties such as the All Progressives Congress (APC), to see sign-boards with the inscription: 'This road belongs to the Federal Government, please, accept our apologies.' The road in question is usually bad, pot-holed and in dire need of repairs. So, the message from the State Government is loud and clear, simply that the responsibility for maintaining the road is that of the agents of the Federal Government and not theirs. FGN is, therefore, to blame. In situations where some of the States Governments undertake repairs, the blame-game shifts to unrestrained media publicity of outstanding debts owed by the Federal Government. Not surprisingly, Comrade Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has become the most notorious leader in the practice of frivolous accusations of Federal Government agencies as owing the State unremitted taxes and levies or bickering over who takes credits for the construction of roads in Benin City. The Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has also made similar allegations against the Federal Government, the last one being that his State was owed N6 billion, allegedly incurred in the repair of federal roads. So also has Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State cried out, in his case, that the Federal Government was owing his State as much as N51 billion as at April, 2013. In fairness to the Governors, if the Federal Government is owing them, it should be honourable enough to settle its debts, and promptly too. However, the State Governors must realise that any project they execute in their domain is done for the wellbeing of their own people, whether or not it is labelled federal or state road. After all, don't the people of Edo State travel on federal roads? Besides, governance is collaborative and what matters is the collective interest of the people rather than who does what. Service to the people must not be politicized. It is interesting that while the State Governors (all of them APC) are eager to paint the Federal Government as a chronic debtor, none is honest enough to admit that there are Federal Government projects that have transformed the lives of their people. Isn't it ironical that almost at the same time that Governor Fashola was crying over the debt of N51 billion, the same Federal Government was putting final touches to a N221.9 billion ($1.4 billion) project of Deep Sea Port in Lagos? According to available information, the Lekki Deep Sea Port, which will be implemented through a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement, is expected to take four years to complete. By the arrangement, the Federal Government will contribute 20 percent equity, Lagos State 18.5 percent while the private investors are to contribute 61 percent. When completed, the new port, the first of its kind in the West African sub-region, will have the capacity to handle four million tons of cargo. More importantly, the Lekki Port is expected to create jobs for not less than 162,000 Nigerians. It is, therefore, a project of immense benefit, not only to Lagos State but also to the economy of Nigeria. The Lekki Port Project is a typical example of President Jonathan's Transformation Agenda, the spread of which goes to all the States of the Federation, without discrimination. Thus, at the 2nd North-East Economic Summit, held in Gombe early in December, 2013, the President unfolded a special intervention programme, targeted at accelerating the pace of socio-economic development in the North-East Geo-political Zone, which includes Borno and Yobe States governed by the opposition APC. The President pledged the support and cooperation of the Federal Government and urged the people to work hard in harnessing their abundant human and material resources for the sustainable development of the zone. Even the Edo State Government that has never let go an opportunity to castigate the Jonathan administration, the presence of the Federal Government is almost everywhere. As the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku rightly observed during his National Good Governance Tour of Edo State: 'The State is one of the luckiest in the federation, having benefited immensely from two major road construction projects. The first one is the Lagos Road which takes off from the centre of Benin City through Ore-Sagamu to Lagos and the second one is the Benin-Auchi-Okene-Abuja Road.' That major projects such as the Lekki Deep Sea Port, massive road construction (Lagos-Benin/Abuja-Benin) and economic revitalisation of North-East States are being executed mainly in opposition APC States, shows clearly that President Jonathan has decoupled governance and politics. This is commendable, considering that the opposition elements in the various States governed by the APC are determined to make a political capital out of every perceived shortcoming of the Federal Government. Written By Francis Ehigiator [email protected]
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