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Reps reveals Nigeria’s biggest challenge

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The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Works, Toby Okechukwu, on Thursday in Abuja said funding infrastructure was one of Nigeria’s major challenge.

Okechukwu made the disclosure at the 3rd Annual Lecture of the “Just Friends Club of Nigeria (JFCN)”, with the theme “ Resolving the Infrastructure Deficit in Nigeria- A Pragmatic Approach.’’

“The major challenge we have is not the lack of expertise but the major challenge we have is how we get about it and we must be sure about what we want to do.

“And the way to go about it is not looking for expertise, we have people who are very experienced and the challenge we have is funding what we need, how do we pay.

“At the legislative level, what we have done is to move for a Road Fund Bill which we had a public hearing and we got the Ministry of Works to warehouse a technical committee for the bill.

“The bill was laid on Wednesday for the final consideration by the House of Representatives and it will be our pleasure that the President, Muhammadu Buhari signs it.

“This is because annual appropriation with regard to road development and maintenance is not sufficient,’’ he said.

While commending the organisers of the forum, Okechukwu said the forum was such that would constructively engage the government in proffering solutions to Nigeria’s major challenge.

On borrowing to fund the budget, he said a focused and targeted approach was important to ensure what the country was borrowing for was measurable.

He reiterated that the annual budget was not sufficient in maintaining the country’s infrastructure, adding that the money that would be generated when the President signs the bill would augment.

Also speaking, Mr Chidi Izuwah, the Director-General, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) said functional infrastructure services remained the bedrock of any meaningful economic growth and development.

Izuwah said:“the real sector of any economy depends basically on functional infrastructure services such as good roads, constant power supply, and efficient transportation network.

“Indeed, infrastructure development will not only serve as catalyst for the productive capacity of the economy, it will accelerate employment generation and alleviation of poverty.

“Today, Nigeria is rated among nations with high infrastructure deficit. The economy is persistently weakened by numerous constraints which inhibit the nation’s productive capacity and its ability to create jobs and reduce poverty.

“ It has been estimated that the total amount of funds required to provide quality infrastructure in Nigeria over the next six years is about 100 billion dollars.

“The reality of today is that the Government cannot on its own close the infrastructure gap in the country without the infusion of private capital into the economy. ‘’

According to the ICRC boss, PPP is critical, especially at such a time as this when the Buhari’s led administration is restoring a culture of transparency and accountability in the country.

He reiterated that PPP interestingly could be applied in virtually every sector of our economy where the aim was to provide effective, efficient and affordable services to the citizens.

Izuwah said in spite of the obvious challenges, the present government was irrevocably committed to collaborate with the private sector to address Nigeria’s infrastructure gap.

He urged the private sector to leverage the enormous opportunities provided by the current infrastructure deficit to partner with the government to move the nation’s infrastructure development to the next level.

Earlier, Mr Jerome Green-Amakwe, the President of JFCN, commended stakeholders present at the forum while urging that a workable advice be generated to solving Nigeria’s infrastructure deficit.

“This year’s lecture will be an agenda setting for the next level of the second tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari.

“And we have no doubt that the speakers will provide a rich and workable advice to the government and its agencies.’’

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