By Peter Adebiyi Adeniran.
The second broad way aside from national industrial policy to fix Nigerian economy prescribed by Asiwaju is national infrastructure plan. He broke the national infrastructure plan to six parts
Permit me to follow the order in which Asiwaju put it.
Nigeria in the past had National Development Plan. It was the period when Nigeria made substantial progress. Infrastructure plan was a subset of National Development Plan in the past. There was never an attempt to have national infrastructure plan.
Infrastructure plan is a partial plan which “covers a part of the national economy“. Generally, economic plan is a “specific set of quantitative economic target to be reached in a given period of time, with a stated strategy for achieving those targets”.
In the words of Asiwaju Tinubu “We need a national infrastructure plan. Road, ports, bridges and railways need enhancing and new ones need to be built, the goal must be a coherently planned and integrated infrastructure grid.
A national economy cannot grow beyond the capacity of the infrastructure that serves it. Good infrastructure yields a prospering economy. Weak infrastructure relegates the economy to the poor house.
Government must take the lead. The focus on infrastructure has important corollary benefit. Federal expenditure for needed infrastructure spending has empirically proven in every place and every era to boost recessionary economies and provide employment when sorely needed. Deficit spending in our own currency to advance this mission is neither a luxury nor a mistake. It is a fulcrum of and balanced and share prosperity.”
To my mind, this is a classic proposition and it sounds scholarly.
It was reported in Times that “During the campaign of President Trump, he pitched a $1trillion campaign pledge to reconstruct the nation’s roadways, waterworks and bridges”. Equally reported is “In the White House, Mr Trump has continued to dangle the possibility of ‘a great national infrastructure program’ that will create millions of new jobs as part of a public private partnership to rival the public works achievements of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower. He chastises anyone who forgets to include it near the top of his to-do list telling one recent visitor to the Oval Office, ‘Don’t forget about infrastructure.”
To my mind Asiwaju Tinubu shares same philosophy and general economic principle of revamping economy with Mr Trump.
It was stated in the introduction of United Kingdom 2016 National Infrastructure Delivery Plan Funding and Finance Supplement that “Infrastructure is a crucial part of this plan and is at the heart of the government’s economic strategy”. It was further stated that “The Chancellor asked the National Infrastructure Commission to plan on the basis that the government will maintain spending on economic infrastructure at 1.0 – 1.2% of GDP between 2020 and 2050.”
Funding and finance model of the infrastructure development plan were defined.
PwC commentary on United Kingdom National infrastructure Plan stated that “Most of the investment will be by private sector, including entities, rather than by government.”
In South Africa, there is Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission which is in charge of South Africa National Infrastructure Plan adopted in 2012.
President Jacob Zuma in his message on the Plan stated: “We have chosen a path of counter-cyclical spending driven by catalytic infrastructure investment.”
In term of national plan for roads, ports, bridges and railways, Nigeria must identify five year priorities and develop a 20-year plan. There is the need to compile infrastructure book that will contain the roads, ports, bridges and railways projects across the nation. Nigeria cannot be approaching its infrastructure development haphazardly. It must not be a function of which side of the bed the government wakes up.
Nigeria should carry out spatial mapping of key gaps and opportunities to determine the state of and required roads, ports, bridges and railways. How strategic the road, ports, bridges and railways to socio-economics development of the economy is critical in carrying out this project.
Whilst drawing plan for roads, ports, bridges and railways, Nigeria must consider unlocking food and minerals belt of middle belt, industrial corridors of the south and maritime support capacity for oil and gas. This plan must be devoid of tribalism.
The plan removes stupidity of spreading N100b across six geopolitical zones to construct roads rather than concentrating on a strategic one at a time.
Colonial Master assisted us to certain extent. Trunk A road that runs from Lagos to North is strategic. While Nigeria must reconstruct this, there must be a Plan to construct shorter and more direct ones with ten lanes of modern roads and not tracks.
There was a plan to construct a road from Badagry to Sokoto many years ago. What is Nigeria doing about it?
The roads need not be constructed by government. So long investment in the road is viable and worthwhile, private investors will be interested.
I learnt from grapevine of some Canadian investors who approached Nigerian government few years back to construct standard rail gauge of 45 minutes journey from Lagos to Abuja, but we turned them down.
This must be investigated, revisited, and action must be taken.
I assume that this is what Asiwaju meant by the first one on his list of National Infrastructure Plan. Inter-modal transport system must be planned for Nigeria.
Adeniran, a Lagos-based Chartered Accountant and an Insurer also holds B.Sc., M.Sc. in Economics.