Ladies and Gentlemen,
One of the objectives of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan launched by President Muhammadu Buhari in fulfillment of the Economic promise of his campaign is to make Nigeria a globally competitive Economy.
The provision of critical Infrastructure to support public transportation, reduce the cost and time of doing business is one of the action points of that Plan.
We gather today to flag off the commencement of work on one of the important road transport routes.
Before today, in the face of limited revenues, the President approved the raising of a Sovereign Sukuk Bond.
Some cynics competed to shout themselves out and accuse Government of trying to Islamize Nigeria.
Those voices have happily faded away, and have been replaced by Economic activity on 25 roads, spread across the Six Geo-political zones, where construction work has resumed and Nigerians are being gainfully employed.
From Benin – Okene ; Enugu- Port Harcourt, Kano- Maiduguri , Loko- Oweto, Nigeria’s road network is daily being rebuilt by well meaning Nigerians who have found dignity in work funded by Sukuk.
The workers there will tell you that they now understand that Change means that they can earn a decent living to support their families.
One of the construction companies’ Chief Executive informed me that Change means that his company is now being paid for work done and for the first time in 10 years he is not owing his bank.
But those 25 roads are only a part of over 200 Roads that need to be funded.
Strategic Roads which carry some of the heaviest traffic and connect the North and South of our country like the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the 2nd Niger Bridge and the Abuja – Kaduna – Kano Road have either stalled or allowed deteriorate for about 10 years for lack of funding at a period of oil boom.
President Buhari has again brought change; by approving an Infrastructure Development Fund.
These 3 projects, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the 2nd Niger Bridge and the Abuja- Kaduna – Kano Expressway are the first beneficiaries of this Fund.
Change means that work will no longer stop on these 3 projects on account of lack of funds, once they are captured in the annual Budget.
While our Contractors have been mobilized and are working on Lagos – Ibadan and the 2nd Niger Bridge, we gather today to hand over this site to the Contractor, Julius Berger Plc and to flag off commencement of unstoppable work caused by lack of funding.
Change means finding solutions to problems that have lingered for up to a decade.
From today, as work is going on in Lagos to Ibadan to connect the South West from Ibadan to the North Central through Ilorin to Jebba and beyond; and work is also going on at the 2nd Niger Bridge to connect the South East from Anambra to the South South in Asaba , the people of the North Central in Abuja (FCT) can be assured that they will be connected to social, cultural and economic opportunities that exist in Kaduna, and Kano in the North West.
So if people still ask you what change means , please tell them that it means the connection of our people through Road transportation from North to South and East to West to deliver prosperity.
Before I conclude, let me say that change is not an event that happens like a big bang.
On the contrary it is a process involving tough but rewarding choices.
Therefore to the Commuters on this Road I say please bear with us as we build this major Highway over the next three years while you drive through it.
We will have to divert and manage traffic for you to move while we build.
With your cooperation, we will do our best to minimize the discomfort, but I assure you that your journey time will get better as we progress.
Ultimately, you will benefit by getting a Road asset that will more than make your sacrifice worthwhile.
On behalf of the Federal Government I therefore flag off the commencement of construction work on the 375.4Km Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Road project that brings change to our people and our Country.