July 29, 2021

Nigeria Transport Hub

…the epicentre for all transport modes

Is good road the precursor to economic prosperity or vice versa?

5 min read

Guangzhou industrial city road network, China

A Critical Analysis Of The Link [Or Nexus] Between Road Development And The Creation As Well As Sustenance Of National Prosperity In Nigeria For Appropriate Policy (Re-)Formulation: Which One Comes First?
Written By: –
Engr. Afolabi O. Adedeji

PREAMBLE

We all have a need to move from one point to another in carrying out our daily activities, whether for commuting to work, going to School or Institutions of Higher Learning, to places of Worship (Church, Mosque, Ifa Shrine, Indian Bhudhist / Hindu Temple, Lodge Meeting, Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc.), for Leisure, Recreation, or any of several other legitimate reasons. An approximate eighty percent [i.e. 80%] of all movement of goods and services in Nigeria is still being done by Road Transportation, putting very severe pressure on available infrastructure.

For about the first ten years after Nigeria gained Independence from her British Colonial Masters, the Nation had an Agrarian Economy. The nature of the Transportation Infrastructure that we inherited from the Colonialists, reflects an emphasis on the need to evacuate Produce to the Sea Ports, for further processing in Manufacturing Industries abroad (Cocoa, Cotton, Ground Nut, Palm Oil, Palm Kernel, Rubber, and so on).


However grave or terrible the “Sins” are, which we may ascribe to those who colonized us (including naked exploitation of our Natural Resources), at least they knew that the country had to be well run through an efficient Civil Service. They also had well maintained Roads, Highways, and Bridges, as well as a good Railway Transportation System. God blessed us with fertile Land and hardworking Farmers. Good Roads and Railways facilitated the evacuation of Agricultural Produce, which greatly enriched those that colonized us!

Crude Oil was discovered in commercial quantity in Nigeria towards the end of the 1960s at Afam and Oloibiri, now part of the South – South Geopolitical Zone. This ushered in the Oil Boom Era of the 1970s and 1980s when the Nation was governed by Military interventionists. Many Landmark projects were implemented during this period, including Airports, Sea Ports, Hydro-Electric Dams, Irrigation Schemes, Petroleum Refineries, Oil Pipelines, Universities and Polytechnics,

Highways, such as the Lagos – Ibadan Expressway, the Kaduna – Abuja Highway, hosting of a major Pan – African Cultural Event (FESTAC 1977), a “big brother” role in the Anti – Apartheid Struggle that facilitated the Freedom of Zimbabwe, Namibia, Angola, Mozambique, as well as the eventual Fall of the Botha Led Regime in South Africa, commencement of the Construction of a New Federal Capital City in Abuja, which was recommended by a Committee led by late Hon. Justice Timothy Akinola Aguda, Ph.D. God endowed Nigeria with large reserves of Oil and Gas. Their export provided ‘easy money’ that brought us a new lease of life and caused the near abandonment of Farm Work. It is still being debated, whether Oil was a blessing or a curse to Nigeria. Military Rule that is associated with Decrees, promulgated with “immediate effect” is also still being criticized for corruption, high handedness, Human Rights Abuses, and so on.

Stages, Sectors, And Characteristics Of Economic Development
Economic Scholars have identified three clear stages and/or sectors in Economic Development. The so-called third world countries or developing economies are still at the Primary Stage, wherein they share a pattern of being dependent on the export of Primary Products as their main source of Foreign Exchange. These may be Agricultural Produce, Solid Minerals, and/or Hydrocarbon Fuels. Nation States at the Secondary Stage of Economic Development have a fairly good number of Manufacturing Industries, whilst Advanced Nations that have reached the Tertiary Stage of Economic Development have a mix of Manufacturing and highly skilled Services, such as Telecommunications, Banking, Research, to mention just a few. By way of a quick reminder, the Factors of Production were taught to us as students of Economics to be Land, Labor, and Capital. Entrepreneurial Skills, and ICT Skills, have been added to this List in recent times.

Lagos, Nigeria. The fastest growing megacity in Africa, the fifth largest economy in Africa

Lessons To Be Learnt From The Utilization Of Middle – East Oil Wealth [And Libya Under Ghaddafi]
Reports from several independent sources indicate that a lot of investments have been made to make life better for Arab Citizens. They are encouraged to fulfill their Educational ambitions at Home and Abroad, Housing Schemes are implemented by the Government, basic services such as Potable Water, Electricity, good Roads, Solid Waste Management, are provided. Downstream Oil Industry Investments, such as Petroleum Dispensing Stations are made at Home and Abroad. The idea of Nigeria’s Sovereign National Wealth Investment Fund was borrowed from the Middle – East (if I am not mistaken).

In a speech that was said to have been delivered by former US President Barrack Obama, America’s recent prosperity (from the 1970s through to the turn of the Millennium, i.e. year 2000), can be traced to the deliberate Federal Government Policy in the 1960s of investing heavily in inter-city Roads, Highways, and Bridges. Therefore according to what they said Obama postulated in his speech, good Roads led to the creation of modern wealth in America.

Road And National Prosperity
Since 1999, When Un-Broken Democratic Governance Commenced In Nigeria With Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR, as our Civilian President for two Terms of Office from 1999 to 2007, we have had mixed blessings as a Nation.
Dr.(Mrs.) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in her capacity as our Hon. Federal Minister of Finance, joined Chief Obasanjo in getting Nigeria out of an approximate $32Billion Debt Trap. In the last ten years, like a dog going back to eat its vomit, Nigeria has entered into another huge “Debt Trap”!! It is now an ‘open secret’ that Nigeria has suddenly become a poor country.

The incumbent Hon. Federal Minister of Works & Housing, Barrister Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, has been presented fairly by the Media as doing his best in the face of very limited Budget size(s). The point however is glaring that our Roads need to be properly maintained. Capital Allocation(s) are paltry for the Construction of very sensitive Road Projects such as the (opening up of) Mambilla Plateau around Adamawa State and Taraba State, the Second Bridge over River Niger at Onitsha, the Rehabilitation of Lagos – Ibadan Expressway, to mention a few.

Security of Life, Property, and Investments, have also become a new National Challenge, and a great source of Political ‘Embarrassment’, for President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, who was reputed to be a tough, “No – Nonsense” Soldier in his active years of Military Service, as a young Officer in the Nigerian Army.

If we are to go back to Agriculture as our economic main stay, we need good Roads to get Harvested Produce to Local and Foreign Markets. Likewise Tourism, and other alternative sources of Revenue.

The Ultimate Philosophical Question
To round off, we will have to draw a parallel between the points adduced in this contribution and the somewhat tricky philosophical argument: “which comes first, the chicken or the egg”?

Long Live The Federal Republic Of Nigeria; May God Continue To Grant Wisdom To Our Leaders.

Written By: –

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Engr. Afolabi O. Adedeji
B.Sc.(Hons.) Civil Engineering; M.Sc.; MBA; FNSE; FCMI; MNIM
Managing Consultant/Chief Executive
Afolabi Adedeji & Associates [‘AA&A’]
Facilities Management Training & Consulting
No. 16A, Oko Awo Street
Victoria Island, Lagos Telephone: 0803 472 5858 E-Mail: aadeji_1star@yahoo.com

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