The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, has called for accelerated infrastructural development in the country in order to foster prosperity.
He said there was nothing wrong with Nigeria as a country, saying wrong choices that were made in terms of infrastructure and investment in the past were the problems.
Speaking to participants at the first edition of the workshop on dispute management in Africa infrastructure projects organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce International Arbitration Centre, Fashola noted that infrastructure is beyond buildings and construction, saying it is one of the parameters that defines the status of a nation.
Speaking further, Fashola highlighted the opportunities in the infrastructure sector for Nigeria business owners. He made reference to the Mambilla hydropower plant going on in Taraba State which would require 18 million bags of cement, 42,000 tonnes of steel and some other materials and the second Niger Bridge in the south-east which would also require two million cubic meters of sand, 68,000 tonnes of cement and 21,000 tonnes of reinforcement.
According to him, this is the opportunity for many business owners especially MSMEs to become prosperous. He further stated that the building of these infrastructures will foster prosperity, employment opportunities and development in the country.
Fashola, also noted that there are sacrifices that needed to be made in order to achieve infrastructure goals.
According to him, “If we apply international processes, there must be some room to reflect international diversity and some of the ways that we do things without necessarily trying to be optimal, for example our land tenure processes is not like that of Europe so if we use contracting rules based on land tenure processes of another jurisdiction, it might be sensible to want to adapt if you really want to use the infrastructure to create growth employment and prosperity.”
He further advised that various methods of dispute resolution and dispute avoidance “should be examined in order to ensure that infrastructure development really achieves its objectives of providing work rather than causing disputes”
Speaking at the workshop, President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Babatunde Ruwase, said infrastructure was critical to economic development especially with respect to activating the potential and promoting the ease of doing business and enhancing opportunities for the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) in Nigeria.
Ruwase, added that infrastructure developments in African countries are largely driven by government expenditure on capital project. He further stated that litigation process come with huge cost to the economy
On his part, the chairman of LACIAC, Babatunde Fagbohun, said Africa was in dire need of infrastructure. He stated that the effect of the shortage of these infrastructure was intense, saying efforts had been made by African governments to solve the infrastructure problems and it was been frustrated by disputes of different kind which also happens in the private sector.