Two days before the Presidential and National Assembly elections, Senator Kabiru Ibrahim Gaya was on air narrating the efforts he made toward awarding the N155 billion contract to a reputable company for the construction of the nearly 400-kilometer dual carriageway linking Abuja and Kano through Kaduna and Zaria.
The project was approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and awarded in December 2017 to Julius Berger Nigeria Plc at a contract sum of N155, 470, 626,078.07. It has a completion period of 36 months. Work started in July 2018.
The Senator explained how his continuous follow-up of matters related to the design and cost of the project at the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing and the Aso Rock Presidential Villa contributed in firming up the decision to implement it.
He did a good job of it. The road is a vital artery for economic, social, cultural and political interactions among Nigerians and the citizens of other countries in Africa, and the wider world, who ply it daily to achieve their various beneficial goals.
Although the road has the additional importance of being part of the Trans-African Highway that Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and other African leaders and statesmen of his era envisioned and agreed to implement in 1964, its basic purpose is definitely the promotion of our national interest. Its last part of the Nigerian portion goes through Dambatta-Kazaure-Daura-Kwangwalam to terminate at Zinder in the Republic of Niger.
Senator Kabiru Ibrahim Gaya, who chairs the Senate Committee on Works said during the live radio interview which was simultaneously transmitted on several radio stations in Kano that, he had several successful meetings with President Muhammadu Buhari on the project.
Although it may appear imprudent to make public the intrigues and vested interests that tried to water down its scope or deny funding for its execution, one can say that the decision of the President to stamp his feet down firmly in favour of the project is additional proof of his genuine patriotism.
Some “big people” from both the North and South reportedly showed strong interest in winning the project for their construction companies or sharing it with the company now working on it.
Whilst some of such companies lack the capacity to execute a construction project of that complexity, others promoted by the “big people” were in the habit of doing projects at variance with the agreed specifications or abandoning sites midway. Their records speak for themselves.
The reconstruction of the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano dual carriageway, which is going on smoothly and probably ahead of schedule, is spared that fate. As indicated earlier, President Muhammadu Buhari is reported to accord serious attention to it alongside the Lagos-Ibadan carriageway and the Second Niger Bridge. The three projects, which are of transformative value to Nigeria, were awarded to the same company.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mustapha Boss, said in order to guarantee funding for their timely completion along with other infrastructure development projects, a Presidential Infrastructural Development Fund was created. Other sources say it is cash-backed in the initial sum of N600 billion.
This ensures that as bills for achieved milestones on the project are submitted and certified, payments are made without delay. The arrangement gives confidence to contractors and suppliers that they will be paid for goods supplied and services rendered promptly. This is another proof of the fairness and integrity of the Federal Government under the watch of President Muhammadu Buhari. It equally implies that the word of the administration with him in charge, everything being equal, is its bond.
However, it is unfortunate that those bent on causing hiccups to the implementation of the project have not given up yet.
The recent attack by unknown gunmen on the staff of the company reconstructing the Abuja-Kano dual carriageway in Kano, probably to scare their company off the project, is the most bizarre and brazen of the extent they can go to manipulate themselves into huge contracts. It is equally a strong evidence of their determination to deprive the North of a key road infrastructure that can boost and make intra and inter-regional economic, social and cultural interactions, easier. This portrays them as enemies of the progress of the North, and the whole nation, in the eyes of the people.
It is ironic that while the South-West and South-East economic, social and financial elites are fully supportive and appreciative of the two projects that will improve the road transportation infrastructure in the two geo-political zones, some of their counterparts in the North are working hard to derail the one in their home region.
The North clearly needs more of such infrastructure for the movement of their huge agricultural produce and livestock to markets in the North itself and to other parts of the country.
Crippling that movement of goods and services on safe and smooth roads, which has vital and strong linkage to the economic survival of millions of their fellow citizens, will generate unpalatable consequences from which those who are working to disrupt the project may not escape.
At this juncture, I hereby join other stakeholders who have benefitted from or will one day, even if only indirectly, gain from using the Kano-Abuja highway, in pleading with those forces alleged to be active in trying to disrupt the construction project, to halt that scheme because it will not bring them any gain.
Danbatta wrote this piece from Abuja