Engr Ali Rabi’u popularly called Cigarin Lafia is former chairman of Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) Kano Branch. He spoke with Daily Trust during the Second Quarterly Dinner of NSE in Abuja hypothesizing on the Kano bridge incident.
Former Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso is said to have done a lot in the area of infrastructure. But the collapse of a bridge recently in Kano raised concerns about the quality of job done in Kano. What do you think?
The truth is that the former governor of Kano State, His Excellency Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso who himself is an engineer has done very well in the provision of infrastructure in Kano and its environs. Anybody who left Kano five years ago and comes back today will not recognize some areas they used to know in Kano.
 On the pedestrian bridge that slipped, I wouldn’t want to comment on it on its entirety because the Council for Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria [COREN] is already investigating causes of what happened. It hasn’t come out with a report so I wouldn’t want to preempt the report COREN will come out with.
But I was a member of the team that visited the pedestrian bridge to ascertain the extent of damage and the probable cause of the slip. One of the beams slipped and fell – for me it wasn’t a structural failure per se. A beam that was placed between two pillars slipped. Unfortunately, a taxi with some passengers came to pass when it happened and the taxi was crushed and the passengers lost their lives. Quality of the construction works is being determined by COREN.
Many state governments have always failed to provide infrastructure. What really is the cause?
It has to do with the political will. Before Kwankwaso’s second coming in Kano, Kano suffered a lot of infrastructure deficit. But when he came – governments before him cried that there was no sufficient money. But he put a lie to those claims. According to him, what he did was to block areas of wastage and he saved a lot of money to plough into infrastructural development. The money is there.
Where did Kwankwaso get the money? He didn’t borrow any kobo to do what he did. State governments should cut their coat according to their cloth and use the little they have to provide the needed infrastructure.
NSE conference is coming up in Akure. Many engineers are looking up to it. What’s your own outlook to the conference?
Year in year out, NSE organizes conference during which we hold our annual general meeting. Last year, our conference was held in Abuja. It was a world conference held in conjunction with the World Federation of Engineering Organisations. It was tagged World Engineering Conference on Sustainable Infrastructure.
This year, we’re going to Akure in Ondo State and the theme of this year’s conference is “National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan, Strategies for Implementation.” You’ll recall that some years back, the Federal Government through the National Planning Commission set up a committee to develop a master plan on infrastructure for the country for a period of 30 years.
NSE was involved in those sub-committees. I was privileged to serve in one of the working groups, the State Infrastructure Working Group. NSE looked at the document and advised the Federal Government on strategies that it needs to do for the implementation of that master plan.
Like every engineer member of NSE, I’m looking forward to that conference and we’ll not be participants, we would want to be resource persons.
Some people say the master plan is dead on arrival. Won’t NSE waste its time discussing it?
Well, it’s our responsibility as engineers to advise government within the limit of our capabilities. This is exactly what we want to do in Akure with the NIIMP. The document isn’t dead on arrival because government committed a lot of resources to put up committees to work day and night to produce that document. If government is serious with development of infrastructure in Nigeria, that document has to see the light of day.
Having worked to produce that document, what area of the master plan is really dear to your heart?
I worked in the state working group. We had transport, power working groups. Every part of the document, for me, is important toward the realization of infrastructural development in Nigeria. I won’t single out any particular area. I believe every part of it is important.
Do you believe the new government can close the gap that is already created as a result of the late take off of the master plan?
Any time the master plan is adopted and given life, that’s when the take-off period will start. It’s a period of 30 years from whenever it takes off.
Source: Daily Trust.

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