By Vitalis Obidiaghaa
Just recently, I came across a news report by the News Agency of Nigeria, published by the Guardian Newspapers on September 18, 2023, with the title; “FG to Construct Super Highways on Abuja-Lagos, Port Harcourt-Lagos.” According to the report, the Minister of Works, Senator Dave Umahi, stated that the Federal Government is set to construct Super Highways from Abuja to Lagos, and from Port Harcourt to Lagos. The Minister disclosed this to State House Correspondents on Sunday, September 17, 2023, after a meeting with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in Abuja.
According to the Minister, the Super Highways, which would be done through a Public Private Partnership scheme, would have state of art facilities for the comfort of the travelling public. Senator Umahi, who observed that the highways which are designed for high speed traveling, will have more than one lane for each direction of traffic and a safety strip dividing the two directions, also assured Nigerians that the government has got commitments from stakeholders to make the project a success within a reasonable period of time.
The above report, which comes as an encouraging news to all Nigerians, signifies Senator Umahi’s quest to use his expertise as a thoroughbred structural engineer to transform Nigeria’s road infrastructure, easing the pains that Nigerians have gone through over the years, due to poor road networks. This becomes even more heart-warming when one considers the fact that the Abuja to Lagos, and Port Harcourt to Lagos roads, do not only serve as strategic connecting links between our nation’s capital and the two major economic cities in the South, they also serve as connecting links to several states and economic corridors within our nation.
Informed minds know that one of the key indicators for measuring a nation’s developmental quest is to examine the effort such nation makes towards her infrastructural development. This is predicated on the fact that a good road network, apart from providing comfort for the travelling public, also serves as a vital catalyst for production and service delivery. That, perhaps, explains why Mr. President stated during his campaign, that his intention was to “modernise and expand public infrastructure so that the rest of the economy can grow at an optimal rate,” —a promise he is now determined to fulfill by the appointment of Senator Umahi as the Minister of Works.
For many stakeholders, especially those who are concerned about the state of Nigeria’s infrastructural development, President Tinubu’s decision to appoint Umeahi as the Minister of Works did not come as a surprise, it was a decision that was well received by our citizens, earning Mr President the commendation of many, because of the track-record of the former governor. For those who have followed Senator Umahi’s exceptional performance as the governor of Ebonyi State, especially in the area of infrastructural development, they knew that Mr. President, being a man who knows how to identify and deploy talents, would give the esteemed structural engineer the serious responsibility of leading Nigeria’s infrastructural development effort. That singular decision by Mr. President confirms his determination to introduce big ideas towards the transformation of Nigeria’s road infrastructural networks, giving our citizens reasons to have hope in Nigeria once again, in line with his Renewed Hope Agenda.
So far, Senator Umahi has proven that he understands the weight of the responsibility and trust that Mr. President has bestowed on him, being one of the front-line ministers in Tinubu’s cabinet. And he is blazing the trail. From his inspection tour of the major federal roads across the nation, to the introduction of concrete technology and the engagement with contractors and other key stakeholders from the six geo-political zones, it is clear to all stakeholders that it is no longer business as usual at the Federal Ministry of Works, Senator Umahi is determined to make a difference.
That difference can be seen both in his words and actions since he resumed duty as the Minister of Works. In his quest to make a difference, he has confronted the contractors who seem to have vested interest in maintaining the status quo, challenging them to brace up for the new order of things for the ultimate benefit of our nation. He has not minced words in voicing out his displeasure at the current state of our roads, which were done by contractors who placed pecuniary gains above our collective national interest.
Speaking during a meeting with contractors from the six geo-political zones at the ministry’s headquarters in Abuja recently, Senator Umahi made known his dissatisfaction on the poor jobs done by some contractors over the years, expressing his dismay at how contractors cheat Nigerians with the poor-quality materials they use to construct roads in the country. Speaking further, he stated that he “travelled from Abuja to Benin through Lokoja road and shed tears on the pains that Nigerians have been suffering on federal roads for years.” This is just as he declared that no existing federal road can last up to seven years.
Umahi’s position is never superficial, it is based on the findings gathered during his recent road inspection tour, crisscrossing the entire nation. According to Umahi, “some roads are riddled with potholes and have deteriorated into “boreholes.” But the good news is that we now have in Umahi, a man who clearly understands the responsibility Mr. President has given him, —a responsibility that would play a key role towards the fulfilment of Mr. President’s Renewed Hope Agenda. We are, therefore, not surprised when we hear him say that “we are gradually moving to a new era of concrete roads in the country, which is tagged: Renewed Hope Reinforced Concrete Agenda. This idea is that of President Bola Tinubu and we are going to enforce it.” This is why every Nigerian citizen should give him the support he deserves.
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