By Musa Ilallah
The news that President Muhammadu Buhari had recently approved the establishment of a fifteen trillion Naira, (N15 tr) state-owned company to address the country’s infrastructure deficit, came as big relief and one that will change the narrative of near-total neglect of Nigeria’s infrastructural architecture by previous governments.
Indeed President Buhari has taken the bull by the horn to turn around the fortunes of our decaying critical infrastructure by this latest gesture of allocating seed money of N1 trillion for the company’s immediate take off.
Envisaged to over time grow to N15 Trillion in assets and capital as a Public-Private Partnership styled Infrastructure company with the name Infra-Co, the company will be one of the premier infrastructure finance entities in Africa and will be wholly dedicated to Nigeria’s infrastructure development.
The entity has been developed with concept designs from the National Economic Council, NEC headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.
The initial seed capital for the entity will come from the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, NSIA, and the Africa Finance Corporation.
The board of Infra-Co will be chaired by the Central Bank Governor and board members will include the Managing Director of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, President of the Africa Finance Corporation, as well as representatives of the Nigerian Governors Forum, and the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning. The Board will also have 3 independent Directors from the private sector.
To address Nigeria’s infrastructure deficit similar to what he has done in all sectors of our national life since coming to power in 2015, the Buhari Administration has continued to explore innovative options, including financing initiatives such as the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund, PIDF designed to cater for the 2nd Niger Bridge; the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Expressway among other projects aimed at improving the lots of his countrymen and women as their dividends of democracy.
There is also the Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme which is being used for the funding of the Bodo-Bonny Bridges and Road with Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas, NLNG and the Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki Expressway with Dangote Group among others.
According to the policy, the new company- InfraCo Plc will finance public asset development, rehabilitation and reconstruction as well as invest in cutting edge infrastructure projects for Roads, Rail, Power and other key sectors.
It is therefore not in doubt that President Buhari has taken a very bold step in giving infrastructure a boost and its pride place in the country’s journey for economic transformation, prosperity, growth and development.
The CBN Governor, Gowin Emefiele had recently said: “The key objectives of the InfraCo Plc fund will be utilized to support Federal Government in building transport infrastructure required to move agricultural products to processors; raw materials to factories and finished goods to markets”.
A Public Affairs commentator, Veteran Journalist, Patriot and former Director of Information at Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Finance, Alhaji Salisu Nainna Dambatta, had in an article in some Nigerian online and mainstream media observed that the “initiative on infrastructure development is in line with the policy thrust of the administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari.
This is primarily to ensure that the country has adequate, evenly-spread and high-grade infrastructure to support the growth of the Nigerian economy and the need of the country’s 200 million-strong population”.
To give free hand in running the company away from government bureaucratic bottlenecks and interferences, the Infrastructure Company Plc as a viable venture, the government had directed that its financial resources would be managed by an Independent Infrastructure Fund Manager, IIFM.
This will insulate it from undue influence by powerful figures who have sabotaged similar laudable economic initiatives by squandering borrowed money on unearned lifestyles, thereby causing the collapse of otherwise viable initiatives.
To make PMB’s vision. of transforming the country’s infrastructure a reality through a N15 trillion funding, all hands must be on deck to support the unique approach to give our critical infrastructure a big boost and a new lease of life.
From all indications, PMB has gotten it right again since his initiative to float a Ñ15tr infrastructure company has been hailed by experts and citizens alike as the way forward for Nigeria’s infrastructural growth and development.
Musa Ilallah, a public analyst writes from Abuja and can be reached at email@example.com