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Re: Engr David Umahi- The Minister in my Heart. By Prof MK Othman

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My article last week was a simple admiration of a personality occupying the exalted position of Minister of the Federal Ministry of Works who displays zeal in performing his responsibilities, making the unscrupulous contractors perform their duties. Still, I did not know I was opening a can of worms. Three high-ranking construction experts talked to me with some exciting expressions- “all that glitters is not gold….,” “Corruption in the road construction industry in Nigeria? Prof, your piece only scratched the surface; the decay in the industry is scary,” and disturbing statements. Road construction, rehabilitation, modernization, and the like are done in the forest, away from the public gaze, where insecurity discourages people from watching what transpires. So, only the contractors, their supervisors, and God know what goes on in the industry; the financial hanky-panky is better imagined. So, Engr Umahi is working to sanitize the industry, and we should give him the needed support, understanding, and encouragement.
As a nation, we must understand the implications of poorly designed and constructed roads due to the contractors’ and supervisors’ compromising attitudes. Such roads deteriorate and fail in shorter periods than they should. They become bad and unmotorable, with attendant consequences such as causing accidents, destroying vehicles, claiming lives, and incapacitating some motorists and passengers as victims of accidents. The government has to incur additional expenditures to repair the roads repeatedly.
It would be challenging for the Minister to stop the decay, which produces multimillionaires who shortchange the nation through corrupt practices. Other arms of the government need to provide support. The Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly needs to probe road construction contracts for all the roads that have been uncompleted for five years.
The article attracted comments from readers of this column, which I am sharing to provide a much clearer perspective on the issue. However, the articles were edited for clarity without changing the messages. Happy reading.
Dear Prof, I also watched the clip where Engr. David Umahi criticized the contractor for a poor job. I learned he did well in Ebonyi in terms of infrastructure when he was the governor. The slow progress made on the Zaria-Funtua road is so annoying. Those working or studying at the Division of Agricultural Colleges (DAC), Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR), and the Faculty of Agriculture have had more than enough share of red dust from this section of the road. In fact, from the Samaru market to the ABUTH, only one lane was completed early this year. A Road is a critical piece of infrastructure that should be built to last at least 50 years. Umahi will make a difference, going by his pedigree.
Iyongo Terungwa Titus

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This is well written, Prof. Thanks for bringing up this subject. When I came across one video clip showing him challenging the quality of road construction, I thumped up for him and the current administration. I want to believe that many things will take shape in the country whenever people like him take most federal executive seats. His courageous attitude and boldness when carrying out his duties as a minister resulted from his proper placement to serve as a Minister of Works who is a practicing civil engineer, not just a certificate holder. The government should consider the professional calling of its appointed political officeholders for better results and effective performance in their offices.
Dr Engr Umar Hassan

Dear Prof. Othman, I pray for the Minister to have more grease on his elbow, strength, and power to continue his fearless job of serving Nigeria. Amen. I wish other ministers would emulate him. May Almighty Allah continue to unite and bless Nigeria, amen. Similarly, I want to give you more golden ink to your golden pen, Prof.
Abdullahi Abubakar

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Prof., your article on the subject matter refers to the Minister of Works, Engr David Umahi, touring many roads in the southwest, South-south, and southeast without commensurate attention to the north. He toured the regions in the south for six weeks, ordered immediate rehabilitation of the 3rd Mainland Bridge, and flagged off the West-East coast highway construction. When will the turn of the Northeast, Northwest, and Northcentral tours be? The Minister must tour these regions to inspect over ten years of decadent road construction and infrastructural deficit. The roads in these regions equally require urgent attention.
Senators and House of Representatives members should please remind the Minister to extend his commendable action to all parts of the country, especially the three regions he has yet to visit.

Re: Insecurity- Who is Safe in Nigeria?
Dear Prof, concerning your article on the above subject published last month, I do not think the banditry issues in the South West are of serious concern compared with other parts of the country. The banditry and terrorism are entwined, and such activities thrive in a hostile environment where the children are neglected at an early age to beg or fend for themselves. The fact that Boko Haram has been operating in a State for more than ten years isn’t justified and is a failure by all standards. The inability to decimate them with a giant vault of Security funds annually is a tragedy, or do we assume that it is a deliberate plan to have justification for wasting Security votes?
In 2016, we constructed boreholes in Benishek, then an epicenter of Boko Haram. By 2017, the boreholes were supplying water, and many of these young boys took to dry-season farming instead of being recruited to Join Boko Haram. In Borno State, the terrorists are young boys aged 16 to 28 years, unleashing havoc.
In Niger, Kaduna, part of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and Northwest, the banditry activities are imported elements for business, kidnapping innocent people for ransom. An account given by one of our staff kidnapped was chilling and revealing. He spoke their type of language, and when the kidnappers knew, he was pretty treated; they even told him that they were working for big Megidas and regularly got transferred from one place to another, like a regular posting. As for amnesty, I say a big no. If you are caught, let it be the instant kiss of the sand, not jungle justice but a deterrence.
Engr Olagbaju Akeju

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