Experts say infrastructure deficit is a major factor militating against Nigeria’s development since its independence in 1960.
The experts, who spoke at the 2022 Infrastructure Dialogue, held in Abuja by Deutsch Partners Holding, (DPH), said the anomaly must be addressed for the country to attain the needed development.
Onuoha Nnachi, managing partner at DPH, in his presentation, described Nigeria’s infrastructure deficit as one of the biggest factors holding back its growth and development.
In the presentation titled ‘The state of Nigeria infrastructure and its impact on national economic growth and development’, Nnachi said “the country’s financing shortfall for infrastructure will be a staggering $3 trillion over the next 30 years.”
The value of the country’s total infrastructure stock represents only 35 percent of the GDP, which is significantly below the 70 percent average for an emerging economy.
He noted that with the World Economic Forum’s 2019 global competitiveness index, Nigeria ranked 116 out of 141 countries, largely due to the poor state of its infrastructure.
Osita Ogbu, former presidential economic adviser in a presentation titled; ‘Global economic indices: The Nigerian position’, lamented the nation’s huge debt profile and corresponding poor infrastructure.
Ogbu warned that there will be repercussions if the debts continue to rise while productivity and the infrastructure remain abysmal as, according to the Debt Management Office (DMO), Nigeria’s debt is $92.6 billion.
He said: “We can’t borrow to consume. If the cost of governance consumes five percent of your revenue, you already know that something is wrong.
“We have an Oronsaye report that says we must collapse parastatals. There are people that go to work on a daily basis- for one year, two years, three years, four years- and they have not produced one thing.
“There are refineries that produce nothing but incur billions in cost and you are asking me to advise, what are you asking me to advise? Is the advice not obvious?”
The director of the economic development institute, University of Nigeria, Nsukka said it was a fallacy, the notion that government has no business in running a business, adding that as long as the national politics is wrong, the economics will also take a hit.
“Politics is superior to economics. Who decides on your budget? Who decides on your priorities? Who appoints the minister of finance? Look at FERMA, you will see that 60 percent of their budget is on new roads and not on maintenance.
“We don’t have a national consensus; we are not a country, in fact, we are yet to build a country. But because there is no national sentiment, we are not interested in the economics of the national roads. For as long as these are the issues, we can have all conferences we want, the problems can’t be resolved,” Ogbu said.
Kayode Adaramodu, former economic adviser, office for national statistics, United Nations said Nigeria will not get anywhere without a national plan and improvement in the area of infrastructure.
While urging policy formulators to get the country’s policy as a borrowed Western policy will not work for the country, Adaramodu said: “Taking debt is not a problem but borrowing for consumption is a problem.”