President Muhammadu Buhari has taken a firm stance on Nigeria’s debt profile, defending his administration’s focus on infrastructure development as a deliberate strategy to combat poverty and stimulate economic growth. Speaking at the virtual commissioning of several projects, including bridges, secretariats, and a road, President Buhari addressed criticisms of the country’s debt, emphasizing that the debts were incurred transparently and tied to visible infrastructure projects.
Infrastructure Investments for Prosperity
President Buhari highlighted that many prosperous nations have built their wealth through investments in infrastructure, some of which were funded by debts repaid over time. He proudly stated that during his tenure, Nigeria’s infrastructure stock has doubled from 20% to over 40% of the GDP, a significant achievement. He stressed that the projects being commissioned signify the government’s commitment to delivering prosperity and improving business efficiency.
The Significance of the Projects
The President explained the purpose of the three commissioned bridges. The Ikom Bridge aims to boost trade around the Calabar Port and enhance transport connectivity between the South-South, North Central, and Northeast regions. The Second Niger Bridge, a long-awaited reality, provides a preferred route for travelers crossing from the Southeast to the Southwest. The Loko-Oweto Bridge shortens travel time for those journeying from Benue to Nasarawa and the Federal Capital Territory, bypassing Lafia and connecting to Keffi and Abuja.
Utilizing Recovered Assets and Dividend Income
President Buhari highlighted the funding sources for these projects, including dividend income from investments in the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG), repatriated funds from overseas, and recoveries from successfully prosecuted proceeds of crime. He emphasized the government’s commitment to utilizing recovered assets for the common good and investing dividend income in lasting assets that benefit future generations.
Efficiency and Cost Reduction
The President also commissioned three Federal Secretariats in Anambra, Bayelsa, and Zamfara States, aiming to reduce the cost of governance by consolidating federal civil servants in one location. This move is expected to enhance service delivery and decrease expenditures on rent for office spaces. The secretariats were named after distinguished Nigerians: Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan Federal Secretariat, Ebele Okeke Federal Secretariat, and Malam Yahaya Gusau Federal Secretariat.
Positive Impacts of Infrastructure Development
Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, highlighted the economic benefits generated by the construction of these infrastructure projects. The projects have created employment opportunities and led to increased property values in the surrounding areas. Travel time has been significantly reduced, and local communities have experienced improved livelihoods.
Support and Goodwill Messages
The event was attended by governors, ministers, and traditional rulers who delivered goodwill messages in support of the projects and the government’s efforts to uplift the nation.