Every year, the nation embarks through the ritual of preparing a national budget. In the budgets, recurrent and capital estimates were always made. Sources of fund were always listed. The nation’s expectations are always laid down in flowery language. But, that ends the entire episode. Implementation becomes a different kettle of fish altogether; a situation where almost nothing ever gets done satisfactorily or to its logical end.
Year-in, year-out, budget rituals are repeated. Often, projects are repeated on the documents, often with same exact amount of finances allocated to such sub-head expenditures, yet in the end, nothing seems to get done. And abandoned projects litter the nation’s landscape.
In the past four years, the condition of federal roads across the country remains an eye sore. Virtually all the federal roads are in terrible state of disrepair, and it appears that nothing is being done to fix those stretches of dilapidated road network. From Lagos to Maiduguri, Sokoto to Port Harcourt, Calabar to Kano, Ilorin to Jalingo, the same ugly scenario is witnessed – there are terribly bad and often abandoned road projects everywhere.
There is no gain saying the fact that over 90 per cent of transportation across the country are done through the nation’s vast road network, yet, there is nowhere, except in Abuja, the nation’s capital city, where one would find a smooth stretch of federal road network.
Worse of all is that in our yearly ritual, called national and state budgets are carried out with some stretch of the nation’s highway listed and even repeated for contract award and execution, yet, these do not help ameliorate the bad situation. And it ends there.
No wonder therefore the stretch of federal highway from 9th Mile Corner in Enugu state, which traverses through Enugu, Kogi, Benue, Platue, Bauchi, Gombe, Yobe, up to Borno state, had remained a single carriage-way and in decrepit condition inspite of the fact that the stretch is about the oldest stretch of federal highway ever constructed in the country. The state of this same stretch of road is better in the dream experience, than passed on – bumps everywhere, with much of the network absolutely in impassable state.
This same experiences are again the plight of the Eastern Railway corridor traversing from Port Harcourt – Aba – Enugu – Makurdi – Jos – Damaturu – and terminating at Maiduguri. All the talk about rehabilitating that stretch of rail line had remained mere budgetary repetitions, without more.
Also, the issue of turnaround maintenance of the nation’s refineries have remained one of the greatest “America Wonders” the country ever experienced. It had remained such a mirage that monies “budgeted and spent” on the projects never attracts any positive impact, as the nation had continued to depend largely on imported petroleum products for domestic consumption, with attendant fraud associated with subsidy or no subsidy.
Several contracts awarded in the country, which had gulped billions of Naira, unfortunately never saw the light of the day. And these abound everywhere. Yet, these issues even appear to petrify the nation’s anti-corruption agencies, set up to bring such to an end, as the probes conducted by these agencies have often ended as pipe dream. In fact, some of such probes consumed even the public officials who seem attempted seeking ways to resolve such national shame.
Even the National Assembly saddled with the constitutional duty to oversight the operations of public agencies under the principle of separation of powers, appears to be overwhelmed or perhaps immersed in the same mire. Inspite of all the “noise” about probes, upon probes of infractions that had gone on in public agencies, ended up confusing members of the public the more, as nothing tangible had ever come out of such probes.
There is no doubt the entire gamut of public institution are dotted with one abandoned, uncompleted or other projects, and even some others that had constituted the key drain pipes on the nation’s scarce resources.
What exactly is responsible for this malaise? In other climes, once a project is listed on the budget, such projects go through the entire gamut and get satisfactorily executed or are brought back for appropriation the preceding next year, until that project is completely tidied up. But, even projects with contracts awarded on them and visible execution being undertaken, are done with such contractual levity that they deteriorate so soon after a execution or even in the process of being executed.
This raises pertinent questions as to the role of oversight agencies and supervisors in this concentric national shame. Whereas it is not that contracts executed under such unsatisfactory parameters never passed through budgetary scrutiny, they actually do yet, the executions are shoddy and do not pass the slightest litmus test.
Given this ugly scenario, the nation’s leaders must as a matter of national emergency wake up from slumber and take necessary steps to reverse these concentric ugly trends. They must understand that the spiraling economic downturn is primarily as a result of the consequences of the lacuna in projects execution and supervision. If our leaders decide to act properly, things will definitely get better. But in as much as they refuse to tow the correct path, so long shall the country continue to bleed under the unfortunate quagmire of economic and infrastructural crises. Buck passing or refusing to change our attitude would not help matters, it will only bring about pain after pain, until the nation bleeds to its elastic limits.