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Atiku Media Office slams Pres. Tinubu’s ‘dubious’ Lagos-Calabar Highway Project

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The Media Office of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Nigeria’s former vice president and 2023 presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has described the 700km Lagos-Calabar coastal highway project of the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu as a dubious and shady deal.

The statement signed by its Coordinator, Paul Ibe, and made available to Diaspora Digital Media, on Tuesday, claimed “the Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration has again inadvertently revealed its penchant for dubious and shady deals in the face of this 700km Lagos-Calabar coastal highway.”

It recalled that “the project returned to public discourse at the twilight of the Goodluck Jonathan administration in November 2014 wherein it was announced President Jonathan had signed the 10-state, 22-station project with China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) at a cost of $11.97bn”, and further explained that the “former President Jonathan could not begin the project before he lost the election. But his successor, former President Muhammadu Buhari expressed his intention to begin it and announced in 2016 that the project had been renegotiated downward by $800m to $11.1bn and that it would be ready within three years. But it continued to stall.”

The statement further reads:

“In September 2023, barely weeks after being appointed by Tinubu, Works Minister, Engr. Dave Umahi announced that the project had been awarded to Gilbert Chagoury’s Hitech Construction Company Limited (Hitech) without any record of a competitive bidding or a decision by FEC.

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

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“The project did not require public funds, it did not go through approval from the National Assembly, which holds the power of appropriation. Also, the project only went through the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) with no record of a competitive bidding since Chagoury’s firm was to fund the project 100%.

“However, to the shock of many Nigerians, Umahi returned to FEC with a memo in March 2024 seeking the approval of N1.06 trillion that would be paid to Chagoury’s firm for the first phase of the project which is wholly in Lagos.”

“Till date, the Tinubu administration has refused to reveal how much the project will cost in total. Umahi, who even came on Channels Television recently, evaded questions as to the total cost of the project.

“But if 47.47km costs about N1.06tn, it means each kilometre is being built at N22.5 billion or $18 million. For a project that is going to be 700km, it means the total cost could be N15.7 trillion or $12.56 billion, which is higher than previous estimates.

“It is curious that the terms of such an audacious project continues to be shrouded in secrecy. Worse still, it is expected to lead to job losses like the demolition of Landmark Beach Resort in Oniru which will lead to the loss of over 12,000 direct and indirect jobs and over $200m in investments according to its management.”

The statement further decried that “despite not revealing the cost of this entire project, the Tinubu administration is now on the verge of setting up a so-called Renewed Hope Infrastructure Development Fund, a fund targeted at constructing capital projects without the usual budgeting process,” adding that “with a target of N20 trillion or $14.5 billion as seed capital, the fund targets the Lagos-Calabar coastal highway and other projects.”

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“But this renewed hope fund, which will be spent at the discretion of Tinubu and without transparency, will likely become another means of siphoning public funds through shady projects. With the current Lagos-Calabar highway already being handled in secrecy, it remains to be seen how such a fund will be managed.”


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