Monday, 13 May 2013

‘Infrastructure deficit may hinder Nigeria’s global business target’

EXCEPT Nigeria addresses the increasing infrastructure deficit in the country, it risks being excluded from global business development target.

Besides, the country’s focus of becoming a major economic hub in Africa cum the world may also not materialise.

This view was expressed by the Oyo State Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat, while presenting a paper at the 3rd Distinguished Lecture Series of the “Think Oyo” group.

In the lecture titled, “Infrastructure: a critical ingredient for development”, the commissioner noted that Nigerian transport facilities- roads, rails, ports and airports have only limited cargo handling capacity.

He noted that though Nigerians travel extensively, there are no facilities to handle high capacity plans.

Hamzat, while also stating that Nigeria has significant infrastructure deficit with a fast growing population and stunt in growth of infrastructure, urged the Federal Government to address issues of development quickly.

The commissioner noted that the infrastructure deficit has also worsened the unemployment situation in Nigeria, adding too that the low quality infrastructure has resulted in such social consequences as family disintegration and social dislocation.

Highlighting the state’s experience on key projects, Hamzat said the dearth of skilled artisans such as welders had slowed delivery of projects.

He added that most skilled artisans and would-be artisans had taken to Okada riding business; a situation being addressed by the restriction on their areas of operation and the skill acquisition and vocational training centres.

Dr. Hamzat while speaking on the possibility of South West integration opined that a condition of equilibrium must be reached wherein states involved quickly upgrade infrastructure to a level of near equality prior to such integration.

He said there is active collaboration already taking place between the States of the region.

He further urged investment in maintenance to ensure that facilities perform at their optimum at all times, adding that there will be challenges as long as built infrastructure are neglected.

Hamzat urged the South-West Governors to explore the possibility of alternative road infrastructure that will ensure people move freely and faster while also creating jobs.

Meanwhile, A group of Nigerian trade mission from the Diaspora concluded a three-week investment drive to some states of the country over the weekend calling on the Federal Government to expedite action on the provision of an enabling environment as morale booster to fast-track their return home to invest in the nation’s economy.

Led by the Chairman of the Central Association of Nigerians in the United Kingdom (CANUK), Chief Bimbo Folayan, the trade mission lamented, “apart from insecurity and decayed infrastructure, there are too many bottlenecks that hinder people with good intentions to invest in Nigeria.”

Among the 10 states of the Federation visited by the trade mission are Kogi, Kwara, Oyo, Bayelsa, Cross River and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.

Addressing reporters in Ibadan at the end of the investment drive, Folayan listed other identified bottlenecks to investment in the country as bad roads, highly expensive local flights and hotel accommodation, irregular power supply, cultural differences as well as lackadaisical attitude of stakeholders to time-keeping.

While noting that many of the over two million Nigerians domiciled in the United Kingdom are currently yearning to return home to invest in the local economy, the CANUK Chairman enjoined government at all levels to handle the issues of security and infrastructural development with all the deserved seriousness.

He said: “CANUK is currently mobilizing Nigerians in the Diaspora to come back home and invest in the country. This is being done in collaboration with the British-African Business Alliance, Friends of Nigeria Investment Network and the Business Council of Africa under which platform the Nigerian Diaspora Direct Investment Summit has been slated for June 21 and 22 this year. We are only calling on Nigerian Government to support our patriotic efforts by ensuring the much-needed security and the basic infrastructure to make things work in tune with the transformation agenda being canvassed under the new order.”

Source: The Guardian

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