Reflections on Infrastructure Governance as Nigeria turns 61

By Engr. Tunji Light Ariyomo, FNSE

Railway technology got to China commercially in 1876. It was built by the British (14km). Railway technology got to the Nigerian territory in 1896. It was built by the British (96km).

By 1905, China decided it was going to henceforth build her railines. That was 30 years after the British built the first 14km rail track. China has been building her railway lines ever since. That is, as thinking people, the average nation could take control of her transportation and mobility in 30 years. That’s what China did.

By implication, the Nigerian territory was to began building her railways in 1925. One may be tempted to say the nation wasn’t independent at the time. But this would not be a tenable excuse as China too wasn’t independent until 1949!

Even humans attain the age of decision at 30. If we missed 1925 because we were asleep, 1990 was another 30 years cycle (from 1960). But we were again asleep under the military.

There is absolutely no rocket science about railways. The fact that we depend on foreign nations to do in 2021 what our ancestors in their primitive zero-sophistication excelled at between 1896 and 1898 is unpleasantly very telling. At that time, Egba young men worked hard on the Lagos – Abeokuta rail-line whilst interpreting the vision of Governor Carter of the Lagos colony and those young Yoruba volunteers earned accolades from King Edward of Great Britain.

Productivity.

Productivity is tied to your organic technical capability. As long as we are being spoon-fed in pipeline construction, railway construction, road construction, power system construction and other economic infrastructure assets, our money would remain weak as we deny ourselves the innate benefits in spending our money on our priorities within our own economy and even going ahead to expand our capacity so we can competitively dominate the region and earn ForEx from our organic skills. Naira would be very strong if we can end capital flight that are simply penalties for our refusal to deliberately develop our technical wherewithal.

Look at us for instance in Lagos State. We are struggling to build the 4th mainland bridge in 2021 when we should have scaled 4th, 5th, 6th and be working on a 7th Interconnected Mainland Link Bridge with functional Side Rail and tram lines!

I am a Nigerian patriot. We can do it.

Happy independence.

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