It’s generally acknowledged all over the world that government is a continuum and therefore ideal that once the baton of leadership of a nation is handed over to a new government, the onus lies on the regime to embrace the projects, policies and programmes of the previous administration without recourse to any personal, party or primordial interests.
However, in the character of many successive regimes in this country, social, economic and infrastructural development in Nigeria lacks continuity of policies and programmes at the federal, state and local levels. State resources are poorly managed, majorly siphoned or frittered as political leaders often embark on white elephant projects that cannot endure the test of time at the twilight of their tenures.
This unfortunate tradition has badly characterised governance and induced corruption since civilian rule returned in1999. In June, 2011, the Presidential Projects Assessment Committee led by Architect Ibrahim Bunu, a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory had reported the existence of 11,886 abandoned federal and state government projects dotting the nooks and crannies of Nigeria which will require N7.78 trillion to complete.
The committee revealed that political and personal considerations outweighed national interest in the award of contracts. Majority of the contracts the committee said, were procurement-driven rather than development-oriented. Oftentimes, new administrations appear to veer from inherited projects for populist reasons either by abandoning the projects outrightly or re-appraising them to factor their self or masters’ interests to the detriment of the masses.
In recognition of this,Vision 20:2020 initiated by late General Sani Abacha had identified interruption of development plans, programmes and projects as part of the impediments to effective budgeting and development in Nigeria. The Vision considered the number of abandoned projects within the three tiers of government and proposed a legal framework that will guarantee continuity of projects even if there is a change in government.
This scenario perhaps influenced some measure of wisdom on the part of the likes of former President Olusegun Obasanjo to hasten work and take credit for the GSM revolution earlier planned and conceived by General Abacha. However, for political reasons, major projects like the dredging of the River Niger and inland ports started by Abacha were abandoned.
Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan also completed some of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua projects and initiated major projects like the south-south’s East-West highway, the Second Niger Bridge at Onitsha, railways, power, aviation projects and the like but could not start or finish them.
We must give kudos to Obasanjo and Jonathan for completing some of their predecessors projects. We must also appreciate the Muhammadu Buhari administration for continuing the dredging of the River Niger and inland ports, East-West highways, the Second Niger Bridge at Onitsha, railways, power, aviation projects etc, within a short period of time.
The general public expectation of new projects without recourse to prudence and accountability must be discouraged, while projects are abandoned and re-awarded after so much has been lost to graft and greed.
In the interest of the nation, the Development Planning and Project Continuity Bill still lying down in the National Assembly should be passed into law to stop the culture of initiating new or duplicating projects, programmes and policies by every government while those embarked upon by previous administrations are pending.
The bill should provide remedy to the overt lack of seamless developmental plan for the nation, discourage primordial sentiments and political vendetta and rather, bring forth sustainable development regime.