HURIWA Condemns Procurement Irregularities, Marginalization in Federal Road Projects

HURIWA Condemns Procurement Irregularities, Marginalization in Federal Road Projects

The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has strongly condemned the prevailing procurement irregularities and overt marginalization of the South East evident in the implementation of federal road projects across the nation.

This condemnation arose in response to recent developments surrounding the Federal Government’s commitment to the construction of the Sokoto-Badagry and Lagos-Calabar highways, which the prominent civil rights advocacy group noted has raised serious concerns about transparency, fairness, and equitable distribution of resources.

In a press statement signed by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, HURIWA, stated: “The announcement of the initiation of the design phase for the 1,000-kilometer Sokoto-Badagry highway, purportedly on the directive of President Bola Tinubu, has triggered skepticism regarding project prioritization.

“While infrastructure development remains pivotal for national advancement, the apparent haste and perceived lack of adherence to due process in awarding contracts for these projects have raised legitimate questions about accountability and fairness in governance.

“Of particular concern is the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway project, which has been ensnared in controversies since its approval by the Bola Tinubu administration. This 700-kilometer infrastructure endeavor, hailed as a critical artery for economic growth, has been shrouded in allegations of procurement irregularities and opacity. Critics have highlighted disparities in the bidding process, citing instances of non-competitive bidding and alleged affiliations between the winning bidder, Hitech, and President Tinubu.

“Moreover, apprehensions have been voiced regarding the environmental ramifications of these mammoth infrastructure undertakings, particularly in ecologically sensitive areas along the coastal regions. The rush to expedite these projects without comprehensive environmental assessments and robust community consultations raises profound concerns about the government’s commitment to sustainable development and environmental stewardship,” HURIWA decried.

HURIWA also noted, with dismay, the apparent neglect of critical federal infrastructure projects in the South East region, particularly the absence of a Lagos-Onitsha highway despite significant economic activity and trade between the South East and Lagos. The association frowned upon the fact that more attention is being given to projects connecting northern and western regions while neglecting the vital transportation needs of the South East.

Continuing, HURIWA glared that this recurrent pattern of marginalization is not novel to the South East region, which the rights group noted endured the most neglect and underdevelopment under the immediate past administration of Muhammadu Buhari.

“The Buhari administration’s decision to borrow $2 billion for the construction of a railway to Maradi in the Niger Republic, while simultaneously investing in modern railway projects in the South West and North, starkly highlights the ongoing systemic neglect of the South East and Port Harcourt. This glaring disparity is particularly evident as outdated small gauge rail lines continue to be utilized in the South East, underscoring a deeply ingrained bias against the region and its people,” HURIWA lamented.

In light of these disturbing developments, HURIWA called for urgent and concerted action to redress the glaring disparities in infrastructure development and ensure the equitable distribution of resources across all regions of the country.

Again, the Association insisted that the federal government must prioritize transparency, accountability, and inclusivity in its procurement processes to engender trust and confidence in infrastructure projects. Additionally, HURIWA emphasized that there must be a deliberate effort to rectify the historical marginalization of the South East region and guarantee that all Nigerians benefit equitably from national development initiatives.

HURIWA concluded by imploring the government to reassess its priorities and allocate resources based on genuine needs and the collective interest of the nation, rather than succumbing to political expediency or sectional interests, stressing that only through transparent and inclusive governance can Nigeria unlock its full potential and safeguard the welfare of all its citizens.

*Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko*

National Coordinator

Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA)

May 10, 2024.

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