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Nigeria economy and infrastructure

By Peter Claver Oparah

Of late, here in Nigeria we have been hearing strange stories from politicians of a particular stock, trying to regale us with the narrative that infrastructure is needless in building an economy. We have lately been told that Nigeria doesn’t need infrastructure to grow her economy, that economies are not rested on sound infrastructure and that the present Buhari regime is wrong to place the kind of emphasis it is placing on building and revitalising the national infrastructure investment.

As I said, this narrative is strange, queer and awful! Never heard such report which is bereft of logic, unconvincing and without roots. It can only be from those whose minds have been terribly defaced by hollow and unproductive politics. It is a lurid tale from the most backward mindset that seeks to de-matket reason because of transient political glory.

It is queer that any reasonable person will argue that an economy can thrive without infrastructure. How possible is that? It is like saying a tree doesn’t need the ground to grow. It is like saying fish.doesn’t need water to thrive. It is like saying life can thrive without breathe. It is strange indeed!

Recently, the United States Vice President, Kamala Harris had this to say, “Infrastructure is the foundation of a good economy. And when we invest in infrastructure, we create good jobs, and that’s what the American Jobs Plan will do”. Does this not connect with reason? It was as if she had these queer Nigerians expounding the strange and noxious praxis of ‘sound economy not built on infrastructure’ in mind in making this statement but the.good woman was merely stating the obvious truth everybody knows.

Now, is it possible to build any economy outside a strong infrastructural base? The answer is a capital NO. It is not possible. It is not practicable. It is not logical. There is no strong economy in the world that isn’t build on infrastructure. There is no real economy that exist outside infrastructure. Maybe, what the proponents of this strange argument meant was the fictional economy they claimed to have built when they ruled Nigeria for 16 whole years, with unprecedented oil revenue and no investment in infrastructure. The result of that spit in.the sun was.that Nigeria practically collapsed on.their watching. What better way to.showcase that collapse than the fact that Nigeria was harvesting humongous oil revenue yet states owed years of salary arrears to workers?

Now to the situation that birthed this strange illogic. Nigeria is in a real infrastructural revolution under Buhari. This is unprecedented in the history of this country. From roads, rails, bridges, airports, hospitals, power stations, schools, the country’s infrastructural base is receiving the kind of investment it had never gotten before. While new investment courses, projects and pathways are being charted, the pallid and dead infrastructure Buhari inherited is being given such rehabilitative makeover it had lacked for decades. The most surprising factor in this tremendous infrastructural blitzkrieg is that it is happening when the nation is passing through one of its most arid economic phases!

How does heavy investment in infrastructure power an economy? Good question. Lets consider the value chain in infrastructural investment. The massive construction.of roads, rails, bridges, power stations, hospitals, airports, schools, housing, etc are done by millions of workers recruited from Nigeria. These huge constructions use materials sourced from diverse sectors of the venom; manufacturing, building, agriculture, equipment, etc and these give economic fillip to millions of other Nigerians employed in these various sectors.

On completion, these infrastructures employ millions of other Nigerians and power the.entire economy. Think of the legions of Nigerians working in the revitalised rail sector.for instance. In a nutshell, what is an economy outside the infrastructure? Nothing.

So why do the proponents of economy not rooted in infrastructure source their strength from? Politics and nothing more. They are PDP politicians who have been humbled by Buhari’s grand delivery on infrastructure and feel their own political life is threatened by such delivery. They therefore feel no qualms marketing this unreasonable argument even when it makes them look queer. Those making this argument are fighting frantically to run away from their shadows but they are striving in vain. They want to stay politically afloat in a strange way but they know they are engaged in a futile flight of revisionism. There is no way they will win with this reversed thinking, deployed purposely to counter Buhari’s giant strides in infrastructure development.

Fact is that infrastructure is the springboard of any good and sound economy. Any economy not founded on infrastructure is a phantom, a pseudo economy and mere balloon that will not fly.

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