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Nigeria should have delayed Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway

I was a kid in Ovim, and we were in Ama Akpurachi (the village square with Akpurachi tree) discussing how Rear Admiral (Navy commander then)…

I was a kid in Ovim, and we were in Ama Akpurachi (the village square with Akpurachi tree) discussing how Rear Admiral (Navy commander then) Ndubuisi Kanu would travel to visit our school. One kid noted that as a naval officer, he would travel from a big ocean, connecting all the rivers from Lagos to Nneochia stream (a big stream connecting Isuikwuato with Ezeukwu) to Ide (a lower body of stream) to Oko-opia (another smaller one).

The ex-governor of old Imo State was coming, and as kids, we needed to figure out which of the village streams he would emerge from. Yes, a naval officer would travel via waters, because Navy people live in waters. We already knew how General Ike Nwachukwu would travel: army for the roads.

Waterways in Nigeria and the imaginations of kids! And that takes me to the news that Nigeria is building a coastal highway connecting Lagos and Calabar for N15.6 trillion. Wow – about 50 per cent of Nigeria’s budget.

Good people, think about this. Ovim railway station is no longer active. That means the rail track which connects Maiduguri and Port Harcourt does not exist today. I respect our leaders but I do not think spending 50 per cent of Nigeria’s budget in this way is strategic for the country considering all the challenging vectors in the land.

That $15 billion could have been spent in a more strategic way. I do think 24/7 electricity, better rail tracks, improved education and healthcare systems would have been prioritised.

Nonetheless, good luck to Nigeria for its future $15 billion highway! That would be an African record and something to brag about which country has the most expensive highway in Africa? “Sir, Nigeria”. That is progress for the record books, but that does not make it a good decision. We have not built or maintained highways internally, now, we think we can do so on seas! A nation in motion.

 

Ndubuisi Ekekwe resides in Abuja

 

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