My Mercedes is bigger than yours – Part 2
The steel mill became a cesspool of corruption for many decades. Each government came, made false promises, pumped dollars and more dollars into the sinking hole, officials pocketed the rest, yet the steel mill, built on 24,000 hectares of land remains uncompleted. The Buhari administration took up the gauntlet. Last year, the President held talks with the original builders of the mill in Russia, and the project is set to roar to life before 2023. And Buhari’s name would remain indelible in the annals of the country, without the man setting out to achieve anything personally.
Some Federal Secretariat projects were awarded in 2012.
They included those of Anambra, Bayelsa, Nasarawa, Osun, and Zamfara states. The projects had long been abandoned, due to a lack of proper funding. Last week, a memo was brought to the Federal Executive Council meeting by Works and Housing Minister, Babatunde Raji Fashola, seeking a review and variation of the contract sums, and it was approved. That is Buhari for you. Even the development round the country is what he seeks. That is why inherited projects continue, and are being completed.
Rail projects. Nigeria had a master plan since days of military rule, which Obasanjo kept faith with, and Yar’Adua and Jonathan continued. But not much in terms of practical achievements. In consonance with his commitment to continuity, Buhari first completed the Abuja-Kaduna rail project, which has been running since 2016. The Itakpe-Warri project, started by Ibrahim Babangida in 1987, was not completed until 34 years later. By Buhari. You now have Lagos-Ibadan rail about being inaugurated, while Ibadan-Kano takes off soon. What manner of man is this Buhari, completing inherited projects, and starting new ones, despite lower earnings than we ever had? Road projects, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway could not be completed in 16 years of PDP.
Not to talk of Enugu-Onitsha, Enugu-Port Harcourt, Lagos-Ore-Benin, and many others. Today, you have at least a Federal road project going on in every state of the country, and all are to be completed in the life of this administration. AKK gas pipeline. Humongous. The cost is $2.8 billion. It had been on the drawing board for many years, long before Buhari. A couple of weeks back, the President flagged off the project, estimated to be completed in two years. What manner of man is this Buhari, I ask again. You don’t dare huge projects like these, if your intention is to steal.
You simply dip your hands in the cookie jar and pop it into your mouth. The Loko-Oweto Bridge. How can one ever forget? Began since 2011, it will link Benue and Nasarawa States, and open up the North Central to other parts of the country. The economic gains are limitless. The bridge is now 95% completed. By Buhari. Zik, oh Great Zik. An illustrious son of Africa. First Nigerian President and Owelle of Onitsha. A mausoleum was started in 1996 as a monument in his memory. It is to tell everyone: the Great Nnamdi Azikiwe was buried here! Governments came, governments went, but the mausoleum was uncompleted, even abandoned. Till the advent of the man from Daura. He not only funded and completed the project, he personally inaugurated it in early 2019. What shall we say of the East-West road, airport projects, and many others, all inherited and set to be completed. President Buhari came with Executive Order 7 (the Companies Income Tax Road Infrastructural Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme).
It is to attract private financing for road construction across Nigeria. Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki Expressway is being rebuilt in Lagos with concrete under this scheme, 40 years after the road was initially built. Despite all these, you hear the funny question from some people, who never see or hear good. What has Buhari done? What has he achieved in the past five years? Such questions bring this passage of Scripture to my mind, the very words of Jesus Himself: “Though seeing they do not see, though hearing they do not hear or understand.”(Matthew 13:13).
If a man chooses to be willfully blind, he will never see. If he decides to be willfully deaf, he will never hear, even if you noise it into his ears. Some other funny people say: what has Buhari started? He has only been completing projects started by other people. My Mercedes is bigger than your people. Head you lose, tail you lose. You never can satisfy them. You abandon projects of your predecessors, they grumble. You complete them, they murmur.
For the sake of argument, which I don’t think is really necessary, let’s give them just a sample of projects started and completed by Buhari. The 17-story Local Content House was inaugurated in Yenagoa a fortnight ago. It is the tallest Federal Government structure in both the South-South and southeast regions put together. It was started in late 2015, now completed. An ultra-modern cancer centre was built and commissioned at Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH.
Diagnostic centers, costing billions of dollars, built and commissioned in Kano and Umuahia. Captive electricity projects in Lagos, Kano, and Ariana markets. Abuja-Kaduna-Kano road project under reconstruction. Rail Wagon Assembly Plant In Kajola, Ogun State.
Many other projects that space would not permit one to number here. But the chronicle would come. The compendium of works done by a highly focused administration would come, despite all the distractions caused by insecurity and endless wailing. Today is not yet the day.
How big is your Mercedes? It does not matter to Buhari. Your Mercedes could be bigger than his own. He does not bother. Service to Nigeria is all that counts.
Adesina is a special adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity.
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