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Infrastructure: Atiku blunders, misinforms about Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway project ─Presidency

Photo Collage of the Ongoing Construction of Lagos-Calabar Highway

*The Nigerian Presidency urges former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar to be clear-minded when making public statements to avoid misinforming Nigerians, emphasising the ‘Lagos-Calabar Coastal highway’ and ‘Lagos-Calabar Coastal rail’ are two distinct projects as it is obvious that Atiku is confused about the difference between the two projects

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

The Presidency has taken a swipe at former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar’s recent pronouncement that the ongoing public road infrastructure, Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway is in the business interest of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Mr. Bayo Onanuga, Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, evening Monday, April 8, 2024, in a statement noted that in Atiku’s desperation to always want to hug the headlines as a self-appointed opposition leader, has allowed himself to be led into a blind alley, again, by his poorly informed aides.

Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar

The Presidency said Paul Ibe, Media Assistant to Atiku, who was the Peoples Democratic Party’s Presidential Candidate in the last election, earlier had made “false allusions, in his futile attempt, to denigrate and find faults in the audacious and transformational Lagos-Calabar Coastal highway project”, which was recently inaugurated as one of the signature projects of the President Tinubu-led administration.

Onanuga stated to Atiku’s chagrin and utter disappointment, the Lagos-Calabar Coastal highway has been rightly praised for the huge economic impact it will create and how it will be a game-changer in improving the quality of life of Nigerians, especially the economy of the nine coastal states it will pass through.

“Importantly, the road will boost agricultural and tourism economy on a grand scale,” the Presidential aide said.

According to the Federal Government, in seeking to be a kill-joy, erstwhile Vice-President Atiku engaged in red-herring by raising ill-thought-out allegations that only exposed his inadequacies and those of his team in getting the basic facts on an issue he badly seeks to nail the government.

The statement noted: “We have decided, however, to respond to Atiku’s misrepresentation of facts in matters of the coastal road if only to set the record straight so that unsuspecting Nigerians are not misled and misinformed.

“We owe it a sacred duty to ensure Atiku and his handlers do not continue to spread disinformation as they wallow in their politics of hatred.”

The Presidential aide on Information and Strategy further averred that contrary to the claims in Atiku’s endorsed press statement, at no time did the administrations of former Presidents Muhammadu Buhari and Goodluck Jonathan award contracts for the construction of the Lagos-Calabar Coastal highway to any company at any varied and revised amount. So, the question of costs comparison does not arise in the first place.

Atiku ignorant of distinction between Lagos-Calabar Coastal Rail and Lagos-Calabar Highway

The Nigerian Government further explained that the contract that was awarded by any past administration was that of Lagos-Calabar Coastal rail.

“The rail was designed as part of the standard guage national rail network.

“The contract was awarded on August 4, 2021 by the Federal Executive Council presided over by former Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN at the cost of $11.17billion.

“The contract was to be completed in six years. The project didn’t take off,” Onanuga declared.

According to him, the Lagos-Calabar Coastal rail project has always been on the card.

He averred: “It was another testament of the failure of the previous PDP-led government that it could not get it off the ground in 16 years it held sway.

“The Lagos-Calabar Coastal highway and Lagos-Calabar Coastal rail are two distinct projects.

“It is unfortunate that the former Vice President is confused about the two projects.”

Tinubu’s administration deserves commendation on activating road project

Onanuga stated: “President Tinubu should be praised for having the courage to embark on this transformative project and not vilified as Atiku Abubakar unsuccessfully sought to do.

“We know there is nothing so sacred for Atiku Abubakar in the pursuit of his undying ambition to be President of Nigeria even in his advanced age.”

The statement also noted: “We, however, don’t expect a former Vice President of Nigeria to continue to fan ill-will and engage in divisive politics in his twilight.

“Atiku queried the decision to start the Coastal road from Lagos and not Calabar, oblivious of the huge impact such will make on export-import flow around the industrial zones.”

The Presidential aide said: “We are at a loss as to what the former VP hopes to achieve with his assertion. Is it not a received wisdom that a thousand miles journey begins with a step? “Whether the project begins from Lagos or Calabar, Warri or Sapele, what should gladden the heart of any patriotic Nigerian is that this important project that has been in the pipeline for several decades has finally taken off.”

The Presidency reaffirmed that “President Tinubu as a leader and nationalist will continue to drive and propel national progress through infrastructural development across the country.

“We enjoin former Vice President Atiku to act his status as a presumed statesman and desist from engaging in fruitless exercise that does not add any value to nation-building.”

The statement as well noted: “As to the other poorly researched issue raised by Atiku and his team on the Lekki Concession Company, we urge them to return to the Library for real facts rather than rushing to cast aspersions on President Tinubu and his government.”

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