The federal government has stressed the need for adequate local and foreign investments in infrastructure to boost the nation’s economy.
The minister of works, Mr. Mike Onolememen, disclosed this in Benin City, in a keynote lecture at the 2014 Professor Ambrose Alli Distinguished Annual Leadership Lecture Series, organised by the Visionary Leadership Services.
Onolememen, whose lecture was entitled, “Leadership, Good Governance, and Infrastructure Development in Nigeria,” stated that good and sustainable infrastructure was necessary in the country to serve as a catalyst for economic growth and generate wealth for the country.
Recalling the state of infrastructure found in the nation’s rail lines, power sector, sea and airports decades ago, the minister noted that the federal government had focused its attention on infrastructural development in the last few years following the realisation that it holds the key to the actualisation of government’s transformation agenda and Nigeria’s vision 20:2020, under the leadership of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
He said, “Infrastructure stock in Nigeria today is far from being adequate. This is even more evident when compared to countries such as Brazil, Turkey, India, and South Africa. A look at some of the statistics indicates the inadequacies of infrastructure in Nigeria.
“In the road sector for example, Nigeria has a total of about 200, 000 kilometres of roads, out of which only 65, 000 kilometres are paved in bitumen. For Nigeria to be among the first 20 economies in the world, our road infrastructure needs to grow from 200, 000 kilometres to about 300, 000 kilometres.”
While calling for more private sector funds through Public Private Partnership(PPP) to supplement the increasingly limited resources of the government, Onolememen disclosed that the federal government had provided an enabling environment for investors, in form of enactment of laws and reforms, which had accounted for the success recorded by some domestic and foreign investors.
The minister said, “The federal government of Nigeria is willing to forge a healthy collaboration between the private sector and the public sector to create a mutually beneficial ‘win-win’ relationship in the development of key national infrastructures that will aid economic growth in our country.
“Specifically, the Federal Government of Nigeria has taken a number of steps not only to ensure that direct foreign investment (DFIs) and Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) thrive in the development of infrastructure and the real sector in Nigeria, but also to guarantee transparency and accountability, the hallmark of good governance in the process.”
Onolememen also lauded the virtues of the late Professor Alli, whom he described as a “transformational leader”, whose leadership was grounded in moral foundations and based on “idealised influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation and individual consideration.”
He said, “Clearly, the late former governor who came to power under the banner of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) was a servant-leader, who delivered on his party’s manifestos – the four cardinal programmes of free education, free healthcare services, integrated rural development, and full and gainful employment.”
Earlier, the president of the Visionary Leadership Services, Mr. Joseph Anetor, explained that the lecture series was organised to immortalise the late former governor of old Bendel State, since his demise 25 years ago, and provide solutions to Nigeria’s leadership challenges and raise the consciousness of Nigerians to demand good governance from their leaders.
Anetor said, “As an organisation, this is one of the ways of making our contributions towards the development of our country. It is a commitment we have made. We remain resolute in this, and will continue to put more vigour to ensure that we continue to deliver on this mandate, in spite of the daunting odds.”