Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asíwájú Bola Tinubu, has asked for the support of the Federation of Construction Industry in Nigeria (FOCI) in order to achieve his administration’s target of massively developing of the country’s infrastructure if elected president.
Tinubu made this known during his consultative session with FOCI held at Wells Carlton Hotels in Abuja on Thursday.
“We must work together and collaborate to look at the bottlenecks impeding the realization of the full potential of the construction industry and take realistic efforts to address them,” he said.
The APC candidate said he would further the developmental feats achieved by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in the sector.
He said: “God willing, as we assume the mantle of leadership, we shall build an even more prosperous economy. This means additional investment in relevant infrastructure: Roads, Bridges, Rail, Airports, Schools, Power facilities, Hospitals and more. These will enhance efficiency, support industrial growth, spur trade and investment, and improve the Ease of Doing Business.
“My commitment to increase annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth will heavily depend on the quality of the infrastructure we shall build to facilitate and sustain growth in all facets of our national life.”
He added that his administration would focus on transportation infrastructure, building more roads, rails and improving water transport for easier movement of humans and goods.
“Overall, the transportation sector is valued at N37 trillion. Transport activities contributed 1.84% to real GDP in Q2 2022. Sustaining the political will and technical capacity to move people and goods in a safe, affordable and accessible manner will create a better future for Nigerians.
“We will, therefore, work hard to improve our various transportation systems and, in the process, unlock the value chain of opportunities therein,” he added.
The former Lagos State governor said his administration would continue the rehabilitation and expansion of existing federal roads and expressways, accelerate construction of new roads as well as the rehabilitation of existing ones through already established funding mechanisms, including accessing capital markets.
Fielding questions from members of the association, he said he would consider the Construction Bank proposed by one of them, but added the problem of the industry is the paucity of long term funding instruments.
On insecurity, Asíwájú Tinubu said he would confront the problem from all angles including introducing technology, recruiting more personnel into the army and police and engaging in training and re-training of personnel.
He also said: “If there is employment opportunities, good education and other opportunities for advancement, security would improve.”
On rail infrastructure, he said: “My government will enhance the use of our railways to reduce the cost of moving goods and services across the nation. We will sustain the investments already made by the Buhari administration and deepen ongoing reforms in the sector. Apart from its cost-effectiveness, enhanced rail use will reduce strain and congestion on our roads and expressways thereby significantly lowering the number of vehicular accidents. My administration will also encourage State Governments to build public transportation or metro systems in their capital cities.
“The metros will link with existing national rail lines and revolutionize urban transport in Nigeria. This will boost commerce and contribute significantly to GDP growth.”
He added that this will involve promoting greater private sector inclusion and working with the National Assembly to review the organization, structure and operations of the Nigerian Railway Corporation.
He also said his administration would prioritize the completion of critical ongoing national railway projects such as: Lagos – Kano; Benin – Abakaliki; Port Harcourt – Maiduguri; Lagos – Calabar; and Kano – Maradi.
“In addition, we shall deploy technology and security assets to protect travellers and ensure the safety and integrity of our railway infrastructure,” he added.
Tinubu further promised that his administration will help decongest Apapa Port by modernising other existing ports.
“I commit to realizing the immense opportunities inherent in the Lekki Deep Sea Port, the first new Sea port in decades, which is more than 90 per cent completed,” he said.
Minister of Works Babatunde Raji Fashola noted that infrastructure is the backbone of a nation’s economy, adding that if elected Asiwaju Tinubu would continue with the infrastructure rebuilding started by President Buhari.
President and Chairman of FOCI Council, High Chief Vincent Barrah, thanked the APC candidate for honouring the invitation of the body to interact with him, saying his presence confirmed the high regards he has for members of the federation and the importance of the role of the body in the scheme of things in the country.
He said the construction industry is the largest employer of labour in Nigeria after government.
Also speaking, both the Minister of Mines and Steel Development and Minister of State, Works and Housing, Olamilekan Adegbite and Umar Ibrahim El-Yakubu respectively expressed confidence that the country would be better under Asíwájú Tinubu given his track record of performance as governor of Lagos State.
Apart from the three ministers, others present at the consultative session were the Minister of Sports and Youths Development, Sunday Akin Dare, prominent legal luminary, Babatunde Ogala SAN and the two deputy president and officers of the federation.