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Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway: You Goofed, Presidency Informs Atiku

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Atiku Anxious, Not In Touch With Reality — APC

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president, made negative remarks yesterday on the Lagos-Calabar coastal route. The PDP is scheduled to hold its poll on February 25, 2023.

Recall that Atiku had accused the Tinubu’s administration of engaging in questionable dealings amid the development of the 700km Lagos-Calabar coastal highway.

The Federal Government recently announced the start of construction on the 700km Lagos-Calabar coastal highway.

The Minister of Works, David Umahi, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Orji Uchenna, in Abuja, said the contractor commenced work, following the formal handover of the initial phase of the project, comprising 47.47km of dual carriageway, to Hitech Construction Company Limited.

Reacting to Umahi’s statement, the former Vice President in a statement by his Media Coordinator, Paul Ibe, on Sunday alleged that the project’s allocation to Gilbert Chagoury’s Hitech Construction Company Limited (Hitech), was devoid of any documented competitive bidding process or decision by the Federal Executive Council.

He had stated: “Umahi refused to reveal how much the project would cost. He only explained that it would run through nine states and would have a rail road running through the middle. Most importantly, the works minister said the project would come at zero cost to Nigeria, which is currently facing an all-time high level of debt.”

Atiku clarified that the project’s concept was “build, operate, and transfer,” indicating that Hitech would construct the road, operate it for a certain period, recoup its investment through tollgates, and subsequently return it to the Nigerian government.

Onanuga’s statement read: “In his desperation to always want to hug the headlines as a self-appointed opposition leader, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has allowed himself to be led into a blind alley again by his poorly informed aides.

“In a press statement signed on his behalf by media assistant, Paul Ibe, the Peoples Democratic Party’s Presidential Candidate in the last election 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 Bola Tinubu-led administration.

“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.

“Seeking to be a kill-joy, Atiku Abubakar 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.

“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.

“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.

“The contract that was awarded 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.

“The Lagos-Calabar Coastal rail project has always been on the card. 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.

“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. “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.

“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.

“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.

“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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