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Atiku tackles Tinubu over Lagos-Calabar highway project

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has berated the administration of President Bola Tinubu for re-awarding the 700km Lagos – Calabar Coastal highway project to Hitech…

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has berated the administration of President Bola Tinubu for re-awarding the 700km Lagos – Calabar Coastal highway project to Hitech Construction Company Limited without any record of competitive bidding or a decision by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate in the last election also alleged that the award was shrouded in secrecy as the Minister of Works, Engineer Dave Umahi has failed to disclose the contractual amount involved in the project.

Atiku in a statement signed on his behalf by his spokesman, Mr Paul Ibe, entitled “Tinubu and Chagoury’s Dubious Lagos-Calabar Highway Project” said the “Tinubu administration has again inadvertently revealed its penchant for dubious and shady deals in the face of this 700km Lagos-Calabar coastal highway.”

The PDP Chieftain noted that “In September 2023, barely weeks after being appointed by Tinubu, Works Minister, Engr. Dave Umahi announced that the project had been awarded to Gilbert Chagoury’s Hitech Construction Company Limited (Hitech) without any record of a competitive bidding or a decision by FEC.

“Umahi refused to reveal how much the project would cost. He only explained that it would run through nine states and would have a railroad running through the middle. Most importantly, the works minister said the project would come at zero cost to Nigeria, which is currently facing an all-time high level of debt.”

The statement quoted Umahi as saying that the contract is under public-private partnership, adding that “The Hitech group are going to look for the money. They have already found the money, and that is the good news because we don’t waste our time talking and holding meetings and wasting resources.”

He said the concept of the project was build, operate and transfer, meaning that Hitech would construct the road, operate it for some years and then recoup its money through toll gates before handing it back to the Nigerian government.

Atiku however disclosed that to the shock of many Nigerians, “Umahi returned to FEC with a memo in March 2024 seeking the approval of N1.06 trillion that would be paid to Chagoury’s firm for the first phase of the project, which is wholly in Lagos.

“This pilot phase was to begin from the edge of Chagoury’s Eko Atlantic City on Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island, and terminate at the Lekki Deep Sea Port, Ibeju-Lekki, a distance of 47.47km. Till date, the Tinubu administration has refused to reveal how much the project will cost in total.

“But if 47.47km costs about N1.06tn, it means each kilometre is being built at N22.5 billion or $18 million. For a project that is going to be 700km, it means the total cost could be N15.7 trillion or $12.56 billion, which is higher than previous estimates.”

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