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Lagos-Calabar highway, Lagos-Calabar Coastal rail, two distinct projects- Presidency

The Presidency on Monday clarified that the Lagos-Calabar Coastal highway and Lagos-Calabar Coastal rail are two distinct projects.

 

The President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Bayo Onanuga, said in a statement titled ‘Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway: Atiku Abubakar makes his hollow point again’ on Monday, in reaction to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar’s comments on the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Road, that President Bola Tinubu puts personal business interests before Nigeria’s Infrastructure growth.

“The Lagos-Calabar Coastal highway and Lagos-Calabar Coastal rail are two distinct projects. It is unfortunate that the former Vice President is confused about the two projects…we urge him to return to the library for real facts,” Onanuga, said.

The former Vice President had said the Tinubu administration is engaged in questionable dealings amidst developing the 700km Lagos-Calabar coastal highway.

Following approval by the Federal Executive Council, the Minister of Works, Dave Umahi, announced the commencement of construction on the 700km road.

Umahi said the contractor commenced work following the formal handover of the initial phase of the project, comprising 47.47km of dual carriageway, to Hitech Construction Company Ltd.

Responding to Umahi’s statement, the former vice president, in a statement by his Media Coordinator, Paul Ibe, on Sunday, alleged that the project’s allocation to Gilbert Chagoury’s Hitech Construction Company Limited (Hitech), devoid of any documented competitive bidding process or decision by the FEC.

According to Atiku, the Lagos-Calabar coastal highway project re-entered public discussion during the waning days of the Goodluck Jonathan administration in November 2014.

However, due to his electoral defeat, the project failed to take off under Jonathan’s tenure.

Subsequently, former President Muhammadu Buhari expressed his commitment to kickstart the endeavour.

“Umahi refused to reveal how much the project would cost. He only explained that it would run through nine states and have a railroad running through the middle.

“Most importantly, the works minister said the project would come at zero cost to Nigeria, which is currently facing an all-time high level of debt,” Atiku argued.

But the Presidency spotted inconsistencies in Atiku’s comments, saying that the former Vice President had allowed himself to be led into a blind alley again by his poorly informed aides.

“Contrary to the claims in Atiku’s endorsed press statement, at no time did the administrations of former Presidents Muhammadu Buhari and Goodluck Jonathan award contracts for the construction of the Lagos-Calabar Coastal highway to any company at any varied and revised amount. So, the question of cost comparison does not arise.

“The contract that was awarded was for Lagos-Calabar Coastal rail. The rail was designed as part of the standard gauge national rail network. The contract was awarded on August 4, 2021, by the Federal Executive Council presided over by former Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, at $11.17bn. The contract was to be completed in six years. The project didn’t take off.

“The Lagos-Calabar Coastal rail project has always been on the card. It was another testament to the failure of the previous PDP-led government that it could not get it off the ground in 16 years it held sway,” Onanuga argued.

He added that the Presidency does not expect a former vice president of Nigeria to continue to “fan ill-will and engage in divisive politics in his twilight.”

He further argued that “Atiku queried the decision to start the coastal road from Lagos and not Calabar, oblivious of the huge impact such will make on export-import flow around the industrial zones.

“We are at a loss as to what the former VP hopes to achieve with his assertion. Is it not a received wisdom that a thousand-mile journey begins with a step?

“Whether the project begins from Lagos or Calabar, Warri or Sapele, what should gladden the heart of any patriotic Nigerian is that this important project that has been in the pipeline for several decades has finally taken off.”

The presidential aide asserted that Tinubu will continue to drive and propel national progress through infrastructural development across the country.

Therefore, he urged the former Vice President to “act his status as a presumed statesman and desist from engaging in fruitless exercise that does not add any value to nation-building.

“As to the other poorly researched issue raised by Atiku and his team on the Lekki Concession Company, we urge them to return to the library for real facts rather than rushing to cast aspersions on President Tinubu and his government,” the statement concluded.

 

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