Although out-going President Muhammadu Buhari, recently gave Nigeria parting gifts in seven legacy projects, there are still scores of them strewn across the country.
Notably, there are several unfinished railway projects strewn around the country. President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration had embarked on the construction of six major railway projects across the country expected to gulp $26 billion at completion.
The projects include the Lagos-Kano standard rail line project covering 1,402 kilometres awarded at the cost of $2.3 billion to the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC); the Abuja-Itakpe-Warri rail line project with a contract value of $3.90 billion being constructed by China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC), CCECC, Julius Berger, Sinohydro Corporation and General Electric; and the 1,443 kilometres Port-Harcourt to Maiduguri rail line project at a contract value of $3.2 billion.
Others are the Kano-Maradi and Kano- Kaduna standard-gauge railway projects; the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Railway Project II at a contract value of $11.10 billion covering 650 kilometres, as well as the 334 kilometre Ogun Intercity Railway Line with contract estimated at $3.51 billion to be constructed by CCECC.
The Port-Harcourt to Maiduguri; Kaduna-Kano-Maradi; Ogun Intercity and the Lagos-Calabar coastal rail lines are currently under construction or awaiting funding.
But will Tinubu continue Buhari’s legacy? The erstwhile minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has posited that it would cost the federal government $33 billion to cover the entire country with rail transportation.
There can be no gainsaying the fact that such a project would open up the country to trade and development.
Despite the huge resources already expended on the revitalisation of the projects, activities on the rail tracks and terminals are almost non-existent.
There are still other legacy projects that need the government’s attention. For example, the National Library, which has cost N18 billion is yet to be completed. Situated on Plot 35 in the Central Business District, Abuja, the National Library of Nigeria headquarters building has become a dream deferred.
The contract for the building was awarded in 2006 to Messes Reynolds Construction Company (RCC) at the cost of N8.590billion, but construction was stalled because of the government’s inability to fund the contract. In 2008, the contractor demanded an upward review of the amount.
The ministry of education later reviewed the design of the property, leading to the upward review of the project to N18billion in 2009 following approval by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), with a completion period of 21 months effective from July 2010.
The Apo-Karshi Road, which cost N6.4 billion, is another uncompleted project. The Apo-Karshi stretch of road was first awarded at the cost of N6.4 billion to an indigenous construction firm (Kakarta Engineering Limited).
The road project, according to the FCT administration, was to ease the perennial gridlock being experienced by motorists on the AYA-Nyanya-Mararaba-Keffi road.
However, the construction of the road later stopped after the 2015 general election, a situation, which resulted in a public outcry, especially among motorists/civil servants as traffic along the Nyanya-Mararaba-Keffi road worsens and almost becomes a nightmare.
On assumption of office as FCT minister, Muhammad Musa Bello, on May 2015, ordered the contractor back to the site to continue with the construction of the Apo-Karshi road project, but since then, the completion of the road project has continued to witness a slow pace.
After the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on February 16, 2021, the minister had, while addressing newsmen pledged that the Apo- Karshi road would be completed before the rainy season set in.
Bello had attributed the delay in the completion of the road project to the error of design whereby a huge rock outcrops on the alignment of the road.
The Millennium Tower, which cost N69.3 billion, is also yet to be completed. The Millennium Tower, an extensive project, was initiated in 2005 by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration. The Tower was designed to be the tallest tower in Abuja at 170 meters (560ft) with an estimated cost of N69.3bn.
For several years, the government did not make budgetary provisions for the complex, thereby forcing Salini Nigeria Limited, the Italian firm handling the construction, to suspend work after over N35.7billion had gone into it.
Analysts said with the current inflation in the prices of building materials, an additional N56billion would be needed to complete the project.
Two major gas projects, the Olokola Liquefied Natural Gas (OK LNG) project and the West African Gas Pipeline (WAGP), capable of making gas a critical catalyst in Nigeria’s economy are currently rotting away with a loss of about N64.96 billion in 2020 despite processing zero gas.
The OK LNG project (construction and operation of a Four Train LNG plant) and the WAGP (provision of gas transportation) were expected to spur domestic gas demand, generate electricity and strengthen Nigeria’s revenue base.
Had the two projects been allowed to come on stream, some stakeholders said it would definitely have served as a major contributor to Nigeria’s economic development and put Nigeria at the forefront of Africa’s gas production.
Also, the N7billion ministry of agriculture headquarters, estimated to cost N7.075 billion, is yet to be completed. The building was to serve as the corporate headquarters of the ministry of agriculture because for over 20 years the ministry operated from a single three-floor complex within the premises of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) and spent over N400million annually in rents for some of its departments.
However, since acquiring the building years ago, the building has been abandoned, with nothing done to uplift the structure for administrative use. It was discovered that the building is gradually becoming dilapidated, with the roof already falling off.
Recently, President Muhammadu Buhari, commissioned the 2nd Niger Bridge, the Lokoja Oweto Bridge, the Ikom Bridge in Cross River State, the Kano/Kaduna Dual Expressway, the Federal Secretariat in Awka, Anambra State, the Federal Secretariat in Gusau, and the Federal Secretariat in Yenogoa.
But many Nigerians are in wonderment whether the incoming president would continue with Buhari’s legacy to make more legacy projects viable.
For example, whereas many economic observers and agents speak positively about President Buhari’s apropos rail projects, they have largely become failed at viability, no thanks to widespread insecurity in the country.
Meanwhile, experts have tasked the incoming president, Bola Tinubu to tackle Nigeria’s perennial challenge of growing enough food for self-sufficiency, power, and the growing debt burden.
Nigeria, as a country with immense potential, faces significant challenges in key sectors such as agriculture, power generation, and debt management. An economic affairs analyst, Dr. Pascal Njoku, told NATIONAL ECONOMY that addressing these challenges requires a comprehensive approach that encompasses strategic planning, policy reforms, and targeted investments. He said by prioritising sustainable agricultural practices, promoting renewable energy sources, and implementing prudent debt management strategies, Nigeria can unlock its potential for economic growth and development.
He said agriculture holds great promise for Nigeria’s economy, as it can provide food security, create employment opportunities, and contribute to export earnings. He said to solve the problems plaguing the agriculture sector, the following steps can be taken:
Investment In Infrastructure: Enhancing rural infrastructure, including irrigation systems, transportation networks, and storage facilities, will improve farmers’ productivity and reduce post-harvest losses.
Access To Finance: Facilitating access to affordable credit and financial services for farmers, particularly small-scale farmers, will enable them to adopt modern farming techniques, purchase quality inputs, and expand their operations.
Research And Development: Strengthening agricultural research institutions and promoting innovation in farming practices, crop varieties, and livestock breeds will enhance productivity, sustainability, and resilience in the sector.
Market Linkages: Establishing efficient and transparent agricultural markets, along with promoting agro-processing industries, will enable farmers to access better prices for their produce and add value to agricultural products.
Dr. Paul Owhobete, also an economist, told NATIONAL ECONOMY that Nigeria’s power sector faces persistent challenges of inadequate generation capacity, unreliable distribution networks, and high energy costs. He said Nigeria needs to promote renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and biomass, which can provide clean and sustainable power solutions while reducing dependence on fossil fuels.
He urged encouraging private sector participation in power generation and distribution through transparent and competitive processes, which will enhance efficiency, attract investments, and improve service delivery.
Owhobete also said expanding the power grid to underserved areas and investing in transmission and distribution infrastructure will ensure broader access to electricity and enhance reliability. He added that implementing energy efficiency measures across industries, commercial buildings, and households will optimise energy consumption and reduce waste.
Speaking about Nigeria’s debt conundrum, the managing director of Cashlinks, Dr. Peter Oghale, said Nigeria’s debt burden has been a growing concern. He said to address this issue and ensure sustainable debt management, the government has to adapt to fiscal discipline. According to him, implementing prudent fiscal policies, including effective revenue mobilisation, rationalising public expenditure, and reducing wasteful spending, will help contain the growth of public debt.
He added that the government must conduct regular debt sustainability analyses to assess the affordability and risks associated with borrowing and align borrowing strategies with long-term development objectives.
“Improving the transparency of debt-related information, including borrowing terms, conditions, and debt servicing obligations, will foster accountability and reduce the risk of debt distress. Promoting economic diversification and reducing reliance on oil revenues will enhance Nigeria’s capacity to generate domestic resources and reduce the need for excessive borrowing,” he said.
David Omale, a social affairs analyst, said tackling the challenges in Nigeria’s agriculture, power generation, and debt management requires a multifaceted approach that encompasses strategic planning, policy reforms, and targeted investments. He said Tinubu should revitalise agriculture, promote renewable energy sources, and implement prudent debt management strategies. He said by doing that, Nigeria can unlock its potential for sustainable economic growth, create jobs, and improve living standards, adding that these efforts will not only address immediate challenges but also pave the way for a resilient and prosperous future for the country and its people.