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Buhari’s unusual road interventions in tertiary institutions

President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is receiving resounding accolades from management and students of many federal higher institutions of learning across the country for extending his…

President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is receiving resounding accolades from management and students of many federal higher institutions of learning across the country for extending his massive infrastructure development agenda to their institutions. At the last count, 83 road rehabilitation projects had been inaugurated across the country. While 66 of the projects had already been completed, 46 were just commissioned.

Though during the official handover of the 1.2-kilometre internal road at the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, recently, and everywhere such inauguration had happened; the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) reiterated that the federal government’s intervention in the construction of the nation’s tertiary institutions internal roads was part of government’s commitment to improving the human condition and a critical intervention to support education, and that much the benefitting schools had confirmed.

Some of the institutions that benefitted from this initiative include Yaba College of Technology (YabaTech) in Lagos; National Institute for Nigerian Languages, Aba, Abia State; the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH); Federal University, Dutse, Jigawa State; Alvan Ikoku, UNILAG, Federal Medical Centre, Owo; University of Ilorin; the University of Uyo, Federal College of Education (Technical) Gombe, and the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Benue State.

There were also the Nigerian Law School, Bwari, FCT, Abuja; Federal College of Agriculture, Moor Plantation, Ibadan; Usmanu Danfodio University, Sokoto (UDUS); Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ikwo in Ebonyi State; Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR), Isiuwa, Edo State; Federal University Oye, Ekiti State; the University of Abuja, Federal College of Education (Technical), Omoku, Rivers State; and Federal Polytechnic, Daura in Katsina State.

Others were Bayero University, Kano; Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Kano; University of Ibadan (UI) and UCH; Federal University of Technology, Owerri; University of Benin (UNIBEN); Federal College of Education (Technical), Omoku, Rivers; Federal University of Gashua, Yobe; University of Nigeria (UNN), Nsukka; Federal Polytechnic Ede, Osun; Federal Polytechnic, Offa, Kwara; University of Calabar; and the Federal Polytechnic Kaura-Namoda, Zamfara.

Not left too out were Federal College of Education, Kastina;  Kaduna Polytechnic and Federal University, Lokoja; the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA); Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Sokoto State; Aro Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Abeokuta; Waziri Umaru Federal Polytechnic, Birnin Kebbi; Hussaini Adamu Federal Polytechnic, Kazaure, Jigawa State; Federal Polytechnic, Ukana, Akwa Ibom State; University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Ituku Ozalla, Enugu and several others.

For both President Buhari and Fashola, it must be very gratifying that the decision of the federal government to carry out infrastructure renewal in its institutions was met with widespread joy and gratitude from the academic community, which had hitherto felt neglected.

Executive Director of the National Institute for Nigerian Languages Aba, Abia State, Prof. Obiajulu Elumejulu, while receiving the rehabilitated 2.1-kilometer road in the institution on February 18, 2021, declared: “This intervention is unprecedented. It has indeed raised the profile of our institute and confirmed to the naysayers that we also are a federal government owned tertiary institution.”

At the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH), where a 2.5-kilometer internal road was rehabilitated and handed over on February 4, 2021, President of the Students Union Government (SUG), Comrade Hakuri Tamus, was even more touching in his speech.

According to him, “This intervention is a big blessing to the academic community because the sandy nature of the roads before the intervention, made it slippery and the school recorded a lot of accidents as students usually fell from motorbikes.” 

To understand the values of these interventions, it is best to evaluate it through the lenses of the leaders of the institutions that benefited from the initiative.

For instance, the vice chancellor of Federal University, Dutse, Jigawa State, Prof. Fatima Batul Muktar, in her remarks at the handover of a rehabilitated 800-meter road in the institution on February 2, 2021, showed genuine appreciation.

She said “Before the rehabilitation of this road, students and parents had to park their vehicles outside the gate to walk down to the school in a pool of water.”

Also, the Rector of Federal Polytechnic Nasarawa, Nasarawa State, Dr. Abdullahi Alhassan while receiving a rehabilitated road in the institution on Thursday, February 18, 2021, said: “This is the first of its kind in the history of this polytechnic since its establishment in 1983”.

The Kaduna Polytechnics Rector, Professor Idris Bugaje, while receiving the revamped roads in his institution on March 27, 2021, declared, “On my arrival in October 2017, this institution was in very bad shape with all the infrastructure dilapidated. We owe a debt of gratitude to the federal government for undertaking to break that jinx.” 

The vice-chancellor, University of Uyo, Prof. Nyaudoh Ndaeyo, also commended President Buhari, for the federal government investment in infrastructure development in tertiary institutions, adding that the road network handed over to the university was indeed in a very poor condition and was a death trap, to both staff and students, members of the club and worshippers at the Catholic Cathedral.

Receiving the road project at his institution, the Provost, Federal College of Education (Technical), Gombe, Ali Adamu, said the project would impact greatly on the lives of the entire college community and enhance easy access within the institution.

Like his colleagues, the vice chancellor of the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Prof. Anande Kimbir, gave kudos to the President Buhari-led federal government and Fashola, for the project, which was coming less than two months after an 8.25MW solar hybrid power plant was commissioned in the school.

He said: “The positive impact of this project on campus life is highly invaluable, as it addresses infrastructure needs of the university with direct bearing on the quality of the learning environment, easy movement on the campus for staff, students and members of the host community.”

The Provost, Federal College of Education (Technical), Omoku, Rivers State, Dr. Emmanuel Ikenyiri, described the roads fixed by the government in his school as “critical infrastructure for learning.”

He expressed happiness at the intervention, adding that the situation the college had suffered since its inception has impacted negatively on the academic activities in the college.

He said, “This will make movement easier; lecturers will move to their lecture halls without encumbrances. The students are happy with what the federal government has done: roads are critical infrastructure for learning for every higher institution.

At every institution where the projects were commissioned, Fashola went with one message – that President Buhari was genuinely committed to bridging infrastructure gaps in tertiary institutions and thereby boosting investments in the education sector.

While Fashola is particularly elated that the gap in the infrastructure need is steadily being bridged by a gradual process of repairs, renewal, and construction on major highways and in the schools; he is more satisfied with the trickle-down effects of government investment in infrastructural development as contractors, workers, artisans, food vendors and other make a daily living from work done.

Maduekwe wrote from Abuja.

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