By Chijioke Okoronkwo, Abuja.
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo says the Federal Government has invested significantly in the country’s infrastructure over the years.
Osinbajo said this in his remarks at the Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA) National Integrated Masterplan Conference in Abuja on Thursday.
The vice-president highlighted, among other investments and projects, the government-backed N15 trillion Infrastructure Corporation (InfraCorp Nigeria), which was inaugurated in 2021.
Osinbajo said that the role of architects was critical as a city could not be considered world-class if it lacked a vibrant economy driven by qualitative infrastructure, functional social services and efficient urban governance.
“In building our cities, we must deliberately ensure that the benefits of becoming world-class cities accrue, not only to wealthy individuals but also across all strata of society.
“This administration’s investments in social housing and other welfare programmes demonstrate our consciousness of the inadequacies that cities across the world face.
“It is important that you all, as professionals, keep the under-privileged members of society in mind as you plan the country’s infrastructure.
“Indeed, I would go as far as to urge you to see infrastructure planning as an opportunity to create a physical environment conducive for social mobility.
“The Federal Government has invested significantly in infrastructure,” he said.
The vice-president said that over the past seven years, the Federal Government had ensured that the capital expenditure for infrastructure projects was prioritised in the budget.
He said the Federal Government had embarked upon new projects as well as overseen the completion of ongoing projects.
“Our investments in railways, highways, fibre-optics, digital penetration, energy pipelines and electricity transmission and distribution lines and renewable energy are not just about meeting today’s demands; they are the infrastructural arteries that will link tomorrow’s cities and give them the capacity for sustainable growth.
“The government also launched the N15 trillion Infrastructure Corporation (InfraCorp Nigeria) last year, even as the president signed Executive Order 7, which has informed the right policy framework and created additional opportunities for Public-Private Partnership (PPP) in infrastructure development.
“Towards this end, we launched in 2022, the revised National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan (2020-2043) and the National Development Plan (2021-2025).
“The National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan is the government’s strategic document, initially developed in 2012, to guide Nigeria’s infrastructure investment, add value to the national economy and enhance private sector participation in infrastructure development.
“The goal of this Plan is to raise Nigeria’s infrastructure stock to at least 70 per cent by the year 2043,’’ he said.
Osinbajo said that in the first five years of the reviewed master plan, investments in energy, transport, social infrastructure and housing would be prioritised because they were crucial enablers for practically all other sectors.
He said that the reviewed master plan and the National Development Plan (2021-2025) also estimated the current nation’s infrastructure stock at 30-35 per cent of the GDP in 2020, against 20 per cent of GDP recorded in 2015.
“This is still a far cry from the global practice of 70 per cent of GDP but it is for this reason that I am optimistic about the innovation which this conference will ignite.
“I am pleased that your discussions will focus on cities, this is as it should be; it is the states that fully control planning and development control.
“Even with respect to federal land in the states; these conversations must have the states of the federation as the focal participants.
“Earlier this year, in the month of June, I received a courtesy visit from the leadership of the NIA; I am gratified to see that they have taken up the challenge I posed to them to use their convening power to bring together the professional bodies in the built environment to partner with the government in the deployment of infrastructure across the country.
“I strongly believe that if there is synergy between all the professionals in this sector, we will see even greater returns on our collective investments in the sector.’’
Osinbajo said that it was refreshing to see the collaboration between all the professional associations in the built environment, and the pledge to take ownership of the National Integrated Infrastructure Development Master Plan and the National Development Plan.
“This is what partnership is about – the government creates an enabling environment through policy, and the private sector operationalises the policy goals through its investments.
“I congratulate the NIA for taking the leadership role and coordinating the joint effort of all stakeholders and for hosting such a well-planned conference,’’ he said.
Earlier, in his welcome address, the NIA President, Enyi Ben-Eboh, thanked the vice-president for honouring the invitation to attend the infrastructure conference and for agreeing to be its grand patron.
Ben-Eboh stressed that architects occupied a unique position in the infrastructure value chain, as they were saddled with the responsibility of shaping the environment through creative design of buildings, which formed the critical mass of the infrastructure ecosystem.
“The architect does this in collaboration with other professionals, which informs the need for an integrated approach at seeking solutions to our infrastructure deficit,’’ he said.
The vice president, afterwards, inaugurated the Conference Programme Handbook and embarked on exhibition tour at the venue.
The event was attended by some members of the Federal Executive Council as well as other stakeholders.