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FG and Atiku Clash Over Lagos-Calabar Highway Project

The FG and Atiku clash over the Lagos-Calabar Highway Project, with Atiku questioning cost transparency and bidding procedures, prompting the FG’s defense of prudence and project significance.

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Lagos-Calabar Highway
Atiku Abubakar and President Bola Ahmed Tinubu

The FG and Atiku clash over the Lagos-Calabar Highway Project, with Atiku questioning cost transparency and bidding procedures, prompting the FG’s defense of prudence and project significance.

Despite Atiku’s critique, the FG praises Tinubu’s leadership and emphasizes the transformative potential of the project.

In a recent exchange of words, the Federal Government and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar have entered a contentious debate over the costs and execution of the Lagos-Calabar Highway Project.

VerseNews reports that Atiku, representing the 2023 presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), issued a statement on Tuesday, daring President Bola Tinubu’s administration to provide transparency regarding the project’s expenses.

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Atiku’s statement, conveyed through his Media Adviser, Paul Ibe, directly challenged the Tinubu administration’s decision-making, particularly questioning the absence of competitive bidding and expressing skepticism about the release of funds. He voiced concerns about the opacity surrounding the allocation of public funds amidst Nigeria’s ongoing economic challenges.

He remarked, “The Tinubu administration could not continue to keep silent on how much of public funds would be spent on the project at a time Nigeria was still facing dire economic challenges.”

Furthermore, Atiku raised doubts about the expediency of awarding the contract to Gilbert Chagoury’s Hitech without proper bidding procedures. He also questioned the speed at which the Tinubu administration secured design and right-of-way permissions within a short timeframe.

In response to Atiku’s critique, the Minister of Works, David Umahi, defended the administration’s handling of the project, emphasizing its commitment to prudence and efficiency in executing road projects.

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He rebuffed Atiku’s claims, labeling them as a “gross misrepresentation of facts” and accusing him of attempting to mislead the public.

Umahi, in a statement by his spokesman, Uchenna Orji, highlighted the complexities of project management and promised to provide a comprehensive analysis during an upcoming press conference in Lagos.

He underscored the administration’s dedication to maintaining cost-effectiveness while ensuring the quality and speed of project delivery.

He stated, “The President has once queried me on the cost of on-going projects nationwide. I had to analyse every basic rate of construction materials to arrive at our unit rates. I showed it to Mr. President. He still thinks I should bring down the cost of projects.”

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Additionally, Umahi outlined the economic significance of the coastal highway project, emphasizing its role in connecting regions across Nigeria. He underscored the project’s potential to stimulate national development and integration beyond the South-South and South-West regions.

Meanwhile, presidential spokesman Bayo Onanuga rebuffed Atiku’s criticisms, asserting that the Lagos-Calabar Highway Project is a transformative initiative under Tinubu’s leadership. He dismissed Atiku’s claims of opaque spending and underscored Tinubu’s courage in undertaking the 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.”

The ongoing dispute reflects the political tension surrounding infrastructure development in Nigeria and highlights the complexities of public expenditure transparency and accountability.

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