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Implementing national infrastructure master plan - National Mirror

By The Citizen
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For some time now, the Minister of National Planning and Deputy Chairman, National Planning Commission (NPC), Dr. Abubakar Sulaiman, has been speaking on the National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan (NIIMP). Nigeria, he said, required roughly $3.05 trillion (N485 trillion) to deliver quality infrastructure to the citizenry in the next 30 years. The implementation of the first phase of the NIIMP, which would cover between 2014 and 2018, would gulp N166 billion, according to reports.

While the public sector would finance the plan to the tune of 52 percent from sources like the Sovereign Wealth Fund, Debt Management Office (DMO), etc., the private sector would foot the remaining 48 percent. Compared to countries like Japan, Singapore and China, among others, whose performance in infrastructure is put at 70 per cent, the authorities say Nigeria's stands at 25 per cent. Indeed, one recent research work indicated that based on the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook (2008) report, Thailand climbed-up the global competitiveness ranking index from the 32nd position to 27th at the end of 2007. Thailand's infrastructure ranking, according to the work, supported the fact that the development of infrastructure directly affect national competitiveness, and that the origin of each fast growing economy is rooted in its well-managed infrastructure.

If effectively and properly implemented over the projected 30-year period, Sulaiman said, the NIIMP would create about 25 million jobs in both the agricultural and mining sectors of the economy, while an additional 600,000 jobs were expected to be created in the construction segment to aid the maintenance and expansion of existing infrastructure within the next five years. '…Over 1,000 stakeholders, including foreign consultants and those within, politicians, irrespective of political affiliations, technocrats, bureaucrats and all others, were brought into the picture by Mr. President to ensure the right environment is provided', the minister stated. The Federal Executive Council (FEC) recently ratified the 2014- 2043 national infrastructure plan, which had earlier been adopted by the National Economic Council (NEC).

Globally, infrastructure development is eminently recognised for its major role in facilitating the logistics, communication and access to energy needs of nations. It contributes to economic growth and, by implication, poverty reduction. Experts say it is not only vital to national development, but positively or negatively affects national (business) competitiveness; and that it has been proved that the mechanism of each fast growing country runs by well-managed infrastructure.

In Nigeria, however, growing and transforming transport (roads, railway, sea and airports), power, oils and gas, housing, water infrastructures, to mention a few, have been on recess for decades. Only information and communication technology (ICT) is thriving, but in an inhospitable business climate and at very huge expense to the consumers of ICT products. It will, therefore, be to the eternal credit of the Dr. Goodluck Jonathan administration, if in the spirit of the NIIMP, the Federal Government and other tiers of government take deliberate steps to create the enabling environment needed for businesses to thrive in the country. Like the authorities themselves recognise, for private sector participation in national development to flourish, institutions, structures, processes and capacities to ensure effective regulations, enforcement of standards and coordination of the implementation of the infrastructure master plan, need to be strengthened.

Policy failures in the past are occasioned, not necessarily by the lack of support by Nigerians, but by lack of political will and somersaults at the implementation stage. Truly, improved infrastructure services would accelerate economic growth and significantly raise the standard of living of the people. But is the FG ready to walk its talk? According to the minister, 'over 1,000 stakeholders, including foreign consultants and those within, politicians, irrespective of political affiliations, technocrats, bureaucrats and all others, were brought into the (NIIMP) picture'; but it has to be so because sufferings engendered by epileptic electricity supply, decrepit and craters' riddled road networks, unserviceable railway system and the absence of potable water, among others, cut across political, economic, ethnic, religious and other divides. That all such stakeholders gathered to fashion the infrastructure roadmap underscores the dire need to beat the nation into the line of development, which for several years has eluded us. This latest opportunity should not be allowed to slip away.