• Wed. Jun 19th, 2024


We Break the News

By Oladotun F Olumuyiwa

There is a cliché that I often hear people use but personally never really understood or perhaps ruminates deeply over its deep meaning until now, which says “when you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.

This cliche perfectly describes the current ‘fix’ that the Federal Government and her teeming executioners have found themselves over the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway. Following a report that the Federal Government has discontinued the project overnight due to some major telecom infrastructure that might be affected if the project continues.

A N2.8trn budgeted project? A project which according to reports, per kilometer, would cost N4bn, come to a halt, just like that? Truth be told, there have been concerns and eye brows raised by Nigerians over this sudden discontinuation.

Yes, construction of such Coastal Highway is a brilliant move. It would no doubt, scale up the economic activities and increase productivity particularly in the oil and gas and transportation sectors, however, proper planning is of great importance before embarking any project of such magnitude.

A week ago, I recall I did an article about lack of foresight on how we can decisively deal with misappropriation and wastage of tax payers’ funds on anything that would not enhance the rapid economic growth and development so as to bring Nigeria out of her current economic woes, citing the amount wasted on Prince Harry visit as my major concern.

Now, here is another major wastage and blunder caused by the construction of Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway due to lack of proper planning.

Painfully, many privately owned properties, structures and businesses that were already destroyed ever before the commencement of this ‘not well-thought out’ project cannot be restored back in one day even if they were well compensated by the federal government.

And this brings me to some pertinent questions that this controversial project has raised in different quarters:

Was there any thorough feasibility study conducted before embarking on this project? If any, which of the consultancy services were contracted, Public or Private??

Did the Federal Government do wider consultation, public forums and meetings with the experts and professionals etc before proposing the commencement??

Is this another attempt to divert public funds as we had seen in the past administrations?

What are the civil societies bodies doing regarding this? Have they all gone hibernating again?

All these above listed questions remind me of the role of civil society bodies played in 2015/2016 when the proposed super highway was about to commence by the Cross River State government.

The state government met with strong resistance from the public and civil society bodies. They launched a campaign against such proposed construction, owing to the impending destructive impact it would have on biodiversity in the Rainforest of Cross River State, which according to experts, is the largest biodiversity reserves in the West African Coast.

All these voices raised collectively with an international Development Organization such as Henriichi Boell foundation taking the lead in the campaign, compelled the Cross River administration to jettison the idea till date.

Myself as an eco-activist and other prominent activists actively lent our voices to the cause back then.

Now let’s talk about the N2.75 billion earmarked as the compensation for the owners of the affected structures and properties demolished along the coastal line particularly in Lagos to pave way for this project.

Reports have it that, several Beach resorts that have been boosting the tourism sector in Nigeria were badly affected. Currently, they are all out of business. With this, the unemployment rate has also increased by a small percentage.

More so, such a huge amount for compensation could have been used for other feasible developmental projects or better still, pumped into the economy through other means for instance, through poverty alleviation programmes, if they had properly planned before it started.

The truth is, there is no amount of damage control this administration will use to justify this ineptitude. It is really a bad move and they must own up to it and apologize to Nigerians especially those who have been badly affected by this haphazardly planned project.

Above all, a town hall meeting where David Umahi and his teeming executioners will be held accountable on this particular blunder must be held in order to fully lay this controversy to rest.

By News Editor

Our News Editor, Muyiwa is an information management expert and Development Blogger with more than a decade experience in investigative reporting and journalism. He is passionate about human angle stories to all social issues in Nigeria and Africa.