On infrastructure development letter to Babatunde Fashola

Babatunde Fashola

Babatunde Fashola

Going by your current ministerial portfolio and having researched your career (its lows and highs), your exemplary life of public service and your introspective philosophy on personal wealth, financial prosperity and national development, you are the right national executive to engage with on a solution to Nigeria’s infrastructural under development.

The reason I have selected this mode of communication is that I seek to energize the ongoing national dialogue on selecting a sustainable infrastructural solution for the needy public because this inertia has gone on for too long.

It is time to try something new, a new approach that would de-emphasise the popular “Strong-Man-mentality” and adopt an approach that would focus on developing, and sustaining a processes-driven-solution that will outlive generations.

I have read your brilliant write-ups on all that you aspire to achieve during your ministerial tenure. Laudable. However, I have observed that a notable deficiency that may derail this is an obvious lack of focus on a sustainable “Process”.

In the national search to plug this infrastructural hole, a lot of interest groups have advocated several solutions such as; scrapping “The Bank of Industry”, incorporation of a “National Development Bank”, or incorporation of an “Infrastructural Bank”. These suggested solutions do not address a fundamental question of how invested capital will be applied and managed to achieve maximum value for the investing public. These proposed-bank driven solutions will give the nation just another “bank” that will focus on fundamental bottom line; Revenue, Liquidity and Profit.

It’s a fact that most of Nigeria’s Capital infrastructural investments are plagued without sized or inflated costs largely due to opaque or ancient procurement practices, poor project viability assessment, poor project management practices and lack of innovation.

I propose that the nation should create and institutionalise a crown agency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to be called “Infrastructure Nigeria Agency” (“INA”). This new agency, with legislative backing, (similar to that of another government agency called “AMCON”), will be a centralised and credible procurement agency focused on;

The study and assessment of Infrastructural ideas and proposals;
. Use of transparent competition to procure on infrastructural projects;
. Transaction structuring and professional contract management of infrastructural projects;
. Professional management of infrastructural projects;
. Delivery of infrastructural Projects on time and on budget;
. Seeking cheap private or public financing for infrastructural Projects (surprisingly I prefer AFP to the popular P3 option);
. Build, maintaining and managing a central database of all government interest on land;
. Managing government facilities and real estate interests; and
. Seeking ways to maximise the value of government’s interest on land.

This “Infrastructure Nigeria Agency” will have a sole mandate to provide a wide range of services to support all Federal Government’s initiatives to modernise and maximise the value of public infrastructure and real estate interest. The agency will focus on delivery of new infrastructure projects, and on how to drive utility out of existing assets.

The agency will be governed by a board of directors which reports to the Federal Minister of Power, Works and Housing and the Minister will set an accountability governance framework for the agency.

The agency will be assessed purely on output using achievable Key Performance Index KPI, targets. I suggest that it should be a part of the accountability governance framework that the Board and CEO will be overhauled if they repeatedly fail to achieve their yearly KPI’s.
Infrastructure Nigeria Agency can also be assessed on the following:
. Number of infrastructural projects proposals or ideas that have been assessed and proposed for implementation;
. Number of infrastructural projects that have been tendered and awarded;
. Number of projects that have achieved substantial project close-out;
. List of key milestones achieved in all ongoing Infrastructural Projects;
. Number of private or public financing they have attracted ;
. Total cost of completed project as against benchmarked cost;
. Competitive terms of financing they have negotiated or attracted on public or private financed projects.

A host of some so-called iconic construction engineering companies operating in Nigeria such as; Julius Berger, Arab Contractors, Reynolds Construction Company, MCC, CCC, Setraco Construction, Dantata and Sawoe Construction, Cappa and D’Alberto Plc, Costain West Africa, Brunelli Construction and others not mentioned should not be the symbolic national imagery of a successful construction sector. The recognition of Julius Berger as a successful national construction icon should not also be translated as a “Fix” to the nation’s infrastructural needs. Ask any of these construction companies to identify an infrastructure project that is 10 years of age and still in a maintained good-state, and you will be surprised at their struggle to identify one singular project…in all their years of existence. The fault is not theirs but rather the inability of the nation to identify and adopt a sustainable project-approach that will achieve and deliver auto-mode long-view successes.

Infrastructure Nigeria Agency is a proposed solution capable of delivering national infrastructural needs such as; Road Projects, Bridges, National Hospitals, Nuclear Stations, Housing Development, Energy Infrastructure, Rail Transportation and similar complex infrastructural projects.

An “Infrastructure Nigeria Agency” (“INA”) will significantly drive down cost of national infrastructure projects and will solve the endemic national corruption problem. This agency will help deliver to the public the long-due infrastructure they need to thrive. Let the conversation begin.

Ezigbo is senior contract strategist and advisor works in the oil and gas sector in Canada.

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