Home Opinion Cycle of flyovers: Don’t Nigerian leaders have any ideas except to build roads , flyovers 
Opinion - 4 weeks ago

Cycle of flyovers: Don’t Nigerian leaders have any ideas except to build roads , flyovers 

 

 

By Dr Abubakar Alkali

 

 

‘Why can’t Nigerian leaders build manufacturing industries and factories for job creation to deal with the current unprecedented hunger in the land?’

‘The solution to Nigeria’s poverty challenges is not to purchase Toyota Prado SUVs for every governor, senator, member House Of Representatives  and literally every senior public office holder challenges is to build factories, imparts skills on the youths through a purposeful skills acquisition programme.

To start with, road construction is not bad although I have strong reservation about building flyovers all over the place just to create the impression that the ‘Governor is working’ The question is ‘of what significance will flyovers (and even roads) be when majority of Nigerians have no jobs?

A major aspect to note about the cycle of flyovers in Nigeria is that all these Tibet’s are constructed within the state capital.

There is no local government area or city (to my knowledge) outside the state capital that has flyover. Ostensibly, these flyovers and road networks are always meant to showcase a false picture of the level of poverty and hoodwinks the unsuspecting members of the public that ‘Mr Governor is working’ while in reality his people are hungry and angry.

The National  Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported a population-to-unemployment rate of 77.1% in Q2 of 2023. This rate keeps rising as our universities and other institutions of higher learning keep churning out graduates annually with no jobs and no future.

Sometimes, you will have to ask whether these flyovers and roads requiring huge capital are constructed so that government can ‘squeeze money out’ of the treasury’ through inflated contracts and white elephant projects.

Most times, these roads and flyovers are never completed. Leaving the uncompleted project – road or flyover – for the next governor to complete. That’s after using the project to obtain huge loan from banks which are usually diverted to private pockets.

Take another example of the so-called Lagos -Calabar coastal Highway which the Tinubu administration has initiated and  executed  to gulp N15.4 trillion Naira. It is reported that N1 Trillion has been paid upfront to the main contractor – Chagoury…. to start work….- The contract total sum- N15.4 trillion, can potentially industrialise  the entire country but so-called coastal project that may not be competed during our lifetime, certainly not during Tinubu’s 4 years in office.

The project will surely be passed on to the next President in 2027. Between N250 – N500 million is required to build a mini-factory on the following items of which raw materials are in excess in Nigeria.
-Textile factory
-Rice processing factory
-Flour mills
-Cocoa processing,
-Tomatoe paste factory
-Ginger processing factory
-Mini-cement company
-Shoe making factory
-Leather processing factory
-Sugar factory
-Tea manufacturing plant
-Tyre manufacturing plant
-Mobile phones manufacturing factory
-Electric cables manufacturing plant

Just think about it; if the N15.4 trillion has been used to build factories, Nigeria would have built at least 36 factories (one in each state of the federation).

Just imagine the multiplier effect of this idea to the proliferation of a swathe of macro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). Each of these 36 factories will potentially birth 100 MSMEs per state which gives over 3600 MSMEs. Imagine further, the impact of 3600 MSMEs to job creation, self-reliance, economic empowerment and poverty eradication. It is huge!

Instead of creating jobs, the Lagos – Calabar coastal highway is reported to have destroyed many small businesses along the route. In the typical Nigerians bureaucratic circumstances, a compensation for these destroyed businesses cannot be guaranteed.

The striking thing about Nigeria’s stagnated industrialisation is that the raw materials, labour, capital are all in abundance but the ideas from the leaders especially the President, governors, Federal and state legislators are lacking.

Every public office holder in Nigeria wants to make his/her own money and beat it. After all ‘if you cannot bear them, is it not better to join them? If as a governor, I don’t have any ideas to build factories in my state, is it not safer for me to share the money among party elders, political thugs and marabouts so that I can be guarantee a second term?

It is in this regard that since 1999 when Nigeria’s latest misadventure as a democracy began, no state governor has focused on building factories in his state.

No President can boast of building factories in Nigeria to turn the economy around. All Nigerians see during each 4-year cycle is an ostentatious lifestyle by political and public office holders including but not limited to new special utility vehicles (SUVs), new houses in Nigeria and Dubai for those in government, new lounges for governors, President and vice President, new aircraft for the President, Governors sending their children to the bear schools in Abuja and paying upfront in U.S Dollars for even their unborn children etc.

Today in Nigeria, courtesy of vision less leadership on the past 25 years since 1999, there are conservatively estimated 30,000 bulletproof SUVs bought free-of-charge under the guise of monetisation for politicians and other government officials in a choose-the-one-you-like manner. Each SUV costs as follows:

Normal SUV – $150,000 (N225 Million)
Bulletproof SUV- $200,000 (N250 Million)

Today in Nigeria under the so-called ‘democracy’
-There are more Toyota Prado SUV than functional factories
-There are more Lexus SUVs than Tractors for our farms
-There are more Lexus SUVs than primary health care centres in Nigeria.

Nigeria’s current disingenuous senate President Godswill Akpabio is alleged to have orders 4 Lexus SUBs at a whopping cost of N1 billion in August 2023 at a time when the sane government he is part of, removed fuel subsidy sending Nigerians crashing into a crushing albatross of poverty. Just the time when Nigerians couldn’t afford a good meal.

-There are more Toyota Prado SUVs than functional police stations in Nigeria
-There are over 25,000 more SUVs than the current 4500 megawatts of electricity.

Another key aspect of economic development is technology. No nation can achieve economic development without technology. To this end, there is the need for the federal government to work with state governors towards the establishment of a fully equipped technology village  in each of the 774 local government areas in Nigeria.

The technology village can be used to build at least one skills acquisition centre in each of the 5974 wards across Nigeria to impart skills on our unemployed youths. These skills include but not limited to:
-Auto mechanic
-Welding and fabrication, -Bricklaying
-Painting
-Plumbing
-Software development
-Mobile phone manufacture, assembly and repairs.

The cycle of flyovers has brought a culture of poverty and unemployment because it distracts the authorities from focusing on building factories.

It is time to change from a ‘consuming economy’ to a ‘productive economy’ by engaging the private sector to build factories and create jobs. Yes, the role of government is to create an enabling environment for businesses and it serve as regulator but in Nigeria’s current poverty predicament occasioned by high unemployment, the doctrine of necessity needs to be invoked so that the federal government directly goes into building factories and manufacturing plants.

Clearly, weak governments such as Nigeria’s cannot manage business effectively hence the need to transfer or sell these factories to the private sector after they are built and made functional.

Any President governor that waits for the private sector, local or foreign to come and invest is wasting his time. The right method for the government to attract investors -local or foreign – is to invest first, create something, make a commitment so that the investor will see something on ground before you invite him.

For example, if the government wants to set up a tomato paste factory, the first thing the government should do is to build a tomato drying and storage facility equipped with all the necessary machines and machinery, make it functional and then invite the investor to see ‘something on the ground.

After seeing the storage facility, the investor could be encouraged to come invest. The investor is risk-averse. Seeing ‘something on the ground’ will enable the investor to properly asses his risk and boost his confidence about a proper management of the risk involved.

With the current high level insecurity, corruption, high interest rates, a devalued and weak Naira, uncertain uncertainty and generally harsh investment climate, no sand investor will want to invest in Nigeria. Some investors who dare to sign agreements sometimes abandon them even before the beginning of the project.

Multi nationals and other investors are leaving Nigeria in drops and this portends serious danger for Nigeria’s economy. This means Nigeria must do more to attract investors. Mere foreign trips and lodging in the best hotels will not do it.

The endless foreign trips taken by our President and governors to ‘attract investors’ most times end up as time wasting and resource-gulping jamborees because the right strategy to attract investors is missing. I laughed when I read sometimes in 2020 that the Sokoto state governor is taking a big entourage to Morocco to ‘attract investors’ to cons to the state to invest in what the former governor, now senator called ‘critical areas’ of the state’s economy.

If you haven’t invested even one Kobo into Tomato paste production, why should you expect an investor to come and stare his hard-earned money to build a tomato paste factory- Just like that! Haba.

So it is with almost all state governors in Nigeria, they travel to attract investors and end up attracting nobody. President Tinubu started a round-the-world trip to attack investors just after his swearing-in last year. No news on what has been achieved as Nigerians have not seen the Indian and other foreign investors that promised our President that they will come and invest.

Ditto for Obasanjo who as President, travelled to 97 countries to ‘attract investors’ and Nigerians didn’t see any despite the huge investment made by the nation into these trips. Buhari travelled to 51 countries with nothing to show for it interns of attracting investors but to fix his health.

An investor doesn’t need any formal invitation to invest. He is looking for where to invest. You don’t need to travel to attract investors. Just make the investment climate favourable and the investor will come running as long as you have what he wants.

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