The Federal Government has restated its commitment to the development of infrastructure through Public Private Partnerships (PPP) in order to bridge the huge gap in the nation’s infrastructure base and by so doing, alleviate the challenges facing stakeholders in their strive to boost the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The Acting Director General, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Mr. Michael Ohiani, made this promise in his keynote address virtually delivered at the WorldStage Economic Summit 2022.
To support his views, the infrastructure expert cited the 2021-2025 National Development Plan (NDP) which is designed to encourage more private sector participation in national infrastructure development as part of the proofs that government was totally committed to addressing the infrastructure deficit in the country.
Ohiani, who spoke at the forum with the theme ‘Nigeria’s Economy: Bridging The Infrastructural Gap’, was represented by the Head, Special Projects & Acting Coordinator, NII3P (a PPP Training Institute of ICRC), Dr. Amanze Okere, said the NDP had a projected N348.1 trillion out of which the entire government would provide about N49 trillion, while the balance is expected to be provided by the organized private sector.
According to him, this funding arrangement for the implementation of the plan is based on the fact has government cannot financially provide for the needed infrastructure quantum and speed.
The Director General pointed out that though infrastructure remained the hub of economic growth and development of any nation, but that despite the production of several development plans by Nigeria, “unfortunately, we have not yet up-scaled our infrastructure stock to the level which would drive the economy as expected.
“It is also common knowledge that the Government alone cannot afford to provide the funding necessary to bring our infrastructure up to the level that it needs to be in order to stimulate much needed economic growth”, he added.
Ohiani recalled that the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (Establishment etc) Act of 2005 came into existence to enable private sector participation in the development and operation of critical infrastructure, which was hitherto the obligation of the government to provide.
In his lead paper, Dr. Oluseye Ajuwon, a senior Lecturer at the University of Lagos, identified underdevelopment of physical infrastructure as the major constraints to Nigeria economic and social development over the years, lamenting that “these critical infrastructure have gradually decayed over time due to neglect.”
According to him, the poor performance and inefficiency in the operation of the nation’s infrastructure has been described as major constraints to industrial performance and productivity growth, thereby causing average growth rate of the national economy to stagnate and stunt around 5.0% for many years.
He elaborated: “This is because the state of our infrastructure does not encourage investment. Unfortunately, we have now added insecurity to the problem of inadequate and decayed infrastructure.”
On the way forward, the economic expert said the desire for true patriotic leadership in Nigeria remained the most needed for ensuring sustainable infrastructure development, adding that the Nigerian government must commit to providing good governance and ensuring public infrastructures are well protected, managed, and maintained.
Ajuwon further stressed: “On-going and future developments should be closely monitored while ensuring that the projects are awarded on merits, and practical timelines are given and strictly followed for completion.
“The government should continue in its fight against corruption and addressing excessive spending in governance. Also, government facilities should be appropriately managed and put into effective and efficient use.
“Furthermore, credit facilities for infrastructural projects should be made easily accessible with minimum interest rates”, the expert added.
In his opening remarks at the forum, President/CEO of World Stage, Segun Adeleye, said the 2022 summit came at a critical time when politics had overshadowed other activities as Nigeria prepares for the general election in 2023.
Adeleye, who elaborated on the constraints to Nigeria’s infrastructure development over the years but more particularly the impact of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war on the global economic space and the rising inflation at the domestic level, said a collaborative funding model would help in bridging the existing huge infrastructure gap in the country.
He expressed optimism that resolutions of this summit on how to close the nation’s infrastructure gap would be handy for a new government come 2023 in creating jobs, adding that “if the country can get it right with infrastructure, every other thing will fall in place.”
L-R: Mr Soji Adeleye, CEO, Alfe City Institution, Dr Oluseye Samuel Ajuwon, lecturer/researcher in Economics, University of Lagos; Mrs Maureen Chigbo, Publisher Realnews Magazine and Mr Dare Mayowa, Publisher, Global Financial Digest during panel discussion at the WorldStage Economic Summit 2022, held at the Ibis Hotels, Ikeja, Lagos on June 22, 2022.