Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja

ACTING Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, yesterday, said corruption has played a role in frustrating or ruining the provision and maintenance of infrastructure in the country over the years.

Magu said the corrupt practices were carried out by individuals, but on most occasions, executed by an elaborate and sinister syndicate that included contractors, architects, quantity surveyors, engineers, consultants to government officials, corporate executives and other players. Magu traced the genesis

of corruption that led to infrastructural decay to the cement racket of 1975.

He said corrupt elements in the Federal Ministry of Defence at the time ordered 16.2 million metric tonnes of cement for the construction of Army barracks at inflated costs, instead of the 2.9 million metric tonnes actually required by the ministry.

Magu spoke at the quarterly public lecture of the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) in Abuja titled: ‘Maintenance culture: A panacea for sustainable infrastructural development in Nigeria.’

Magu who was represented by his Special Assistant, Dr. Ladan Usman, affirmed the significance of infrastructure in the social and economic life of any nation, especially the case in developing countries like Nigeria, that are badly in need of an adequate number of critical infrastructures for economic development.

Magu said without roads, railways, bridges, ports, airports, schools, hospitals, housing, offices, telecommunications and other infra- structure, it was difficult to see how economic transformation and enhancement of the quality of life of Nigerian citizens can be realised.

Magu upheld the view that developing a culture of maintenance of existing infrastructure was vital and necessary, since without such, the infrastructure would fall into a state of disrepair and eventually hinder the pace of social and economic development.

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He said the goal should be to uproot the corruption syndicate in the system and institute an effective and permanent preventive and monitoring system through the active participation of the wider public.

NICO acting Executive Secretary, Louis Eriomala, said the topic was chosen considering the poor state of the nation’s infrastructural architecture which has been largely due to poor maintenance culture.

“It is worthy to note that governments at all levels of the federation spend billions of naira every year in the provision of roads, buildings, railway tracts, power, etc, in order to sustain these developmental projects. There is a need to protect and maintain them. The infrastructural decay and dilapidation we presently experience,

is as a result of our poor maintenance culture which is attributed to the negative public attitude towards government’s projects as nobody’s business, hence its neglect,” Eriomala said.

Delivering the lecture, Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, said from colonial times, successive governments had in

varying degrees invested in infrastructural assets for the socio-economic development and benefit of Nigerians.

Fashola who was represented by the Deputy Director, Rehabilitation (Housing Sector), Augustine Ocheje, added that Nigeria’s total infrastructure stock falls below the level of peer emerging market countries.

He emphasized that “there is a direct link between infrastructure development, poverty reduction and employment creation.”

He concluded that the maintenance of public infrastructural assets would create sustainable long-term employment and poverty reduction.