Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar has alleged that the award of the 700km Lagos-Calabar coastal highway project to Gilbert Chagoury’s Hitech Construction Limited without any competitive bidding process is a reflection of President Bola Tinubu administration’s “penchant for dubious and shady deals.”


In a statement issued by his Spokesman, Paul Ibe, Atiku admitted that though the minister of Works, Dave Umahi, stated it would come at zero cost to Nigeria through a build-operate-transfer model, he later sought N1.06 trillion for the first 47km phase in Lagos.


He said this translates to a staggering N22.5 billion per km, potentially costing over N15 trillion or $12.56bn for the entire 700km stretch – far higher than previous estimates of $11.1bn evaluated by Former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.


The Statement from the Former Vice President’s Camp partly reads; “This same Hitech, owned by Chagoury, was unable to complete the 50km Lekki-Epe Expressway. Despite installing two tollgates along the axis, Hitech which was part of the Lekki Concession Company (LCC) consortium was only able to construct about 20km, forcing the Lagos State Government to buy it back at the cost of N7.5 billion ($50 million at the time) in 2013 which came at a loss to the people of Lagos.


“Tinubu has once again put his personal business interest ahead of that of the Nigerian people in violation of his oath of office where he swore that “I will not allow my personal interest to influence my official conduct or my official decisions”.


“The so-called pilot phase from Eko Atlantic to Lekki Deep Sea Port was initially conceived as a Lagos State Government project but because of its huge cost coupled with the fact that Lagos State has a huge debt burden no thanks to Tinubu, the Federal Government is now implementing it under the guise of Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway. This perhaps explains why there are fears that the project will never get to Calabar, and this is the same reason the project is beginning from Lagos and not Calabar.


“Despite not revealing the cost of this entire project, the Tinubu administration is now on the verge of setting up a so-called Renewed Hope Infrastructure Development Fund, a fund targeted at constructing capital projects without the usual budgeting process.


“With a target of N20 trillion or $14.5 billion as seed capital, the fund targets the Lagos-Calabar coastal highway and other projects. The initiative targets Pension Funds, Concessionary Loans, insurance companies, sovereign wealth funds, private sector arms of multilateral development institutions, and bilateral private sector investors, among others, to secure $35bn annually. The Diaspora funding and equity and endowment funds are also expected to play their part in the plan.


“But this renewed hope fund, which will be spent at the discretion of Tinubu and without transparency, will likely become another means of siphoning public funds through shady projects. With the current Lagos-Calabar highway already being handled in secrecy, it remains to be seen how such a fund will be managed.”


The Presidency is yet to react.

Written by:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *