The immediate past chairman, Nigerian Institution of Civil Engineers (NICE), Abuja chapter, Engr. Ben-Osy Okoh has sought the need for all levels of government to open up space for more private sector participation in housing and other sectors of the economy.
In an interview with journalists in Abuja, he noted that investors are interested in investing in Nigeria but are skeptical due to security challenges.
He pointed out that investors won’t invest in any country that cannot protect their investment, lamenting that the tallest building in Abuja which is the world trade centre has been under construction for the past 10 years. Oko said that the economy of Dubai in United Arab Emirate (UAE) is fully driven by the private sector, stating that the country has mapped out the Expo 2020 programme, expected to unveil the next tallest building in the world.
He indicated that UAE is not an oil-producing country but that the majority of funds needed to meet up the completion date of the project before 2020 would be sourced from the private sector since the country has enabling laws that would enhance private sector operators. Oko revealed that problems in the sector heightened since power, works and housing ministries were merged as one ministry, describing it as an aberration given the huge challenges in the sector.
The engineer emphasised that the growth rate of any nation is measured by the level of infrastructure inherent in the country. He maintained that Nigeria’s investment in infrastructure is low, adding that since Abuja was conceived as Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in 1976 that 32 years down the line, that federal government failed to develop up to 25 percent of infrastructure in the city.
Oko added, “For instance, government will award contract for a road project at the cost of N10 billion which is expected to be completed in three years; in the first year, N100m will be budgeted for the project; the next year the project will attract zero allocation while the third year, it will be N1 billion; therefore, the project will never be completed in three years”.
The engineer stated that with poor infrastructure budget that it is impossible for all levels of government to provide an enabling environment for the private sector to operate, saying that the private sector boosts the economy in any developed countries.