27 June 2012

Nigeria: 'Why Nigeria May Not Achieve MDGs By 2015'

The Minister of Works, Mr. Mike Onolememen, yesterday said Nigeria might not be able to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) before 2015 because of her serious infrastructural deficit such as roads, power and housing.

Others, according to him, are water, airports, railways and seaports.

Onolememen, who was represented by the Director, Human Resource and Management in the ministry, Mr. Samuel Oluwole, spoke in Abuja at the first annual National Conference on Contract Administration and Project Management for National Transformation organised by Potomac Consulting.

He said: "The large population and high growth rate comes with very high demand for infrastructural facilities like roads, airports, seaports, railways, power, water, schools, hospitals and housing."

He added: "But the current reality is that Nigeria is faced with serious infrastructural deficit in almost all the sectors enumerated above.

"The Debt Management Office (DMO), estimates that Nigeria requires capital investment of over N32 trillion to bridge the infrastructural deficit."

The minister stressed that the country's current infrastructural deficits will also affect her realisation of the vision 2020.

The implication of this, he said, is that if Nigeria intends to join the league of 20 most developed economies, then it had to overtake countries like Belgium and Netherlands in infrastructural development.

According to him, government is also confronting the challenges facing road development in the country.

He said: "Now with a N32 trillion current deficit, the level of investment needed to surpass these developed countries in infrastructure is better imagined.

"Thirdly and most importantly is the fact that unless we accelerate the pace of infrastructural development, it will be difficult to achieve government's transformation agenda in many sectors."

Against this background, therefore, he said the ministry launched the road sector transformation initiative to make the roads more motorable, safer and pleasurable.

"The ministry is involved in the construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation and maintenance of roads in many parts of the country. "We are successfully laying the foundation for world class roads in Nigeria," Onolememen said.

According to him, government is also confronting the challenges facing road development in the country.

Such challenges he said, include corruption, lack of quality assurance, defective bureaucratic project management structure and inadequate funding."

He noted, however, that the greatest challenge is the deficit in the capacity of human capital which manifest in inadequate planning, poor design and ineffective supervision.

In a remark, the President of the Association of Consulting Engineers of Nigeria (ACEN), Mr. Nuruddeen Rafindadi, said the manner in which many public funded projects start, stop and start again is a very expensive way of delivering projects in the country.

He said: "When severe delays arise due to cash flow crunch, the usual practice has been to reschedule the contract period, or sometimes simply allow it to drift. By the time the project gets back on track, it is always at considerably higher cost."

He added that as the country progress to the era of reforms in infrastructural sectors, it is hoped that projects execution shall become more subjected to the global regime.

"Our contracts will be take the form of international agreements such as FIDIC model contracts, involving complex transactions and multiple nationalities." he said.

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