By FEMI ADESINA
The country has been agog this week with fallout from the signing of the long-awaited Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into law. That legislation has now become Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).
President Muhammadu Buhari has done what Napoleon couldn’t do. Again and again. The Bill had defied Olusegun Obasanjo who introduced it, got the better of Umaru Musa Yar’Adua (God rest his soul), worsted Goodluck Jonathan, but has finally been subdued by Buhari. The man has proven to be adept at concluding things that had long trounced and vanquished many leaders before him.
The PIB overwhelmed the first to eighth National Assembly, which couldn’t pass it into law. But through synergy and cooperation between the Executive and the Ninth Assembly, Nigeria now has a law for her cash cow, the oil and gas industry, more than 50 years after the last legislation, which had become obsolete.
Step forward President Buhari, and be garlanded for being the Master Finisher. Practical examples abound in different spheres of National life, of projects, policies, proposed laws that had been in the works for more than two decades, but which have been seen to fruition by the tough but easy going man from Daura. Today, permit me to just dwell on the infrastructure revolution in the water sector, to illustrate how Buhari finishes abandoned and uncompleted projects.
When this Administration assumed office in 2015, more than 50% of irrigation projects in the country were not working, says Engr. Suleiman Adamu, Minister of Water Resources. He adds: “The present administration inherited 116 major ongoing and abandoned projects. A technical audit was conducted in which projects were categorized into high, medium and low priorities.”
The technical audit came out with these findings: Abandoned contracts/projects included 38 in the irrigation and drainage areas, 37 dams and reservoirs, and 41 in the area of water supply.
You know what usually happens when new administrations come into office? Because they want to award fresh contracts, and line their pockets with kickbacks, they either cancel, revoke or abandon existing ones. But not with Buhari. We saw it in the Abuja-Kaduna rail project, which he inherited and completed, and many others, of which a compendium will come your way soon.
And see what happened in the water sector. There are over 200 dams in Nigeria, which have capacity to provide 11.2 billion cubic meters of water for irrigation, 900 cubic meters for water supply, and 18 cubic meters for hydropower generation. Today, out of the 37 inherited in comatose states, 12 have been completed, while 20 are prioritized for completion by 2023.
Now, to the shocking part. See the ages of the projects, in terms of when they were started, abandoned, and concluded.
Kashimbilla Multipurpose Dam, in Taraba State. Commenced in 2007, completed by Buhari.
Ogwashi-Uku Multipurpose Dam, in Delta State. Begun in 2014, finished by Buhari.
Adada Dam in Enugu State. Started in 2011. Finished by, you know who.
Sulma Earth Dam, Katsina State, Begun in 2004. Now done.
Gimi Earth Dam, in Kaduna State. Year of commencement, 2009. Just concluded.
Alajue Small Earth Dam in Osun State. 2007. Now completed.
What of hydropower projects? The one in Gurara, Kaduna State was begun in 2003, and that of Dadin-Kowa in Gombe State, 2005. Both now completed.
And to irrigation projects. Mamu Awka Drainage and Land Reclamation, Anambra State, 2011. Azara-Jere, in Kaduna, 2007, Shagari Project in Sokoto, 2008, Sepeteri, in Oyo State, 2013, Ejule Ojebe, Kogi State, 2013. All now completed by Buhari.
Water Supply Projects. See them, and the years they were started. Central Ogbia Regional Project, Otuoke, Bayelsa State. 2012. Northern Ishan Regional Project, Edo State, 2011. Vom Water Supply Project, Plateau State, 2014. Takum, Taraba State, 2011. Federal University of Agric Makurdi, Benue State, 2005. Mangu Regional Water Supply, Plateau State, 2005, Ekeremor Water Supply, Bayelsa State, 2012.
Wait for this: Zonal Water Supply Project, Katsina State, 1992. Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, 2006. And many more. All now completed between 2016 and 2021.
Many other dam projects, irrigation and water supply projects are ongoing in different parts of the country, with estimated completion dates of 2022 and 2023. All by the Fulani man from Daura.
In the midst of all these inherited, abandoned and moribund projects, now resuscitated and completed, some people still say, ‘we don’t see anything they are doing.’ O di egwu o, as the Igbo would say. And as the Good Book puts it, “that seeing they may see, and hearing they may hear, and not understand, lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins be forgiven them.” ( Mark 4: 12)
May it not be our portion to have our eyes wide open, and not see. Or to have our ears as big as the umbrella of a certain political party, and not hear anything. May it not be our portion, I say again.
*Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity