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Umahi tackles Atiku over criticism of Coastal Highway project, says Atiku’s viewpoints diversionary, superficial

Umahi tackles Atiku over criticism of Coastal Highway project, says Atiku’s viewpoints diversionary, superficial


The Minister of Works, Engr. Dave Umahi has tackled Nigeria’s former Vice President and 2023 PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar over his criticism of the Lagos-Calabar coastal highway project.

In a press release signed by the Special Adviser to the Minister of Works on Media, Barr. Orji Uchenna Orji, and made available to Pacesetter, the media aide said Atiku’s criticisms were diversionary, superficial and intended to mislead the gullible.


He insisted that everything about the project followed due process.

The press release reads in full:

1. The attention of the office of the Special Adviser (Media) to the Honourable Minister of Works  has been drawn to the viewpoints and false analogies credited to His Excellency Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President of Nigeria and the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 General Elections, on the intentions and procurement  processes that led to the award of Sections 1 of the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway project by the Renewed Hope administration  of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency President Bola Ahmed Tinubu GCFR. I wish to categorically state that such viewpoints are false analogies, conceived by the fertile imaginations of the former Vice President and which are clearly superficial, hypocritical, diversionary, and undoubtedly motivated by ambitious political calculations.


2. The former Vice President had, on 7th April 2024, criticized the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway project award and cost, which he fallaciously stated was awarded to Hitech without due process and at a cost higher than the initial amount announced by the immediate two previous administrations that attempted to execute the project. Also, on the 6th of May 2024, Alhaji Atiku criticized the Federal Government’s bold and visionary decision to  embark on a developmental journey that would redefine the economic growth trajectory of Nigeria, by raising two issues, namely; that the contract was awarded to Hitech Construction Company Nigeria Limited because of the personal relationship between the President of Nigeria and the Chairman of Hitech, Chagoury, and that the demolition exercise was done in a hurry and thus a threat  to foreign investment. These accusations or rather, viewpoints, are, to say the least, intrinsically superficial, baseless, self-serving and politically motivated to imprint malice in the minds of unsuspecting members  of the public, especially the gullible. The Honourable  Minister  of Works, His Excellency, Sen. Engr. Dr. Nweze David Umahi CON,  has in different media fora decapitated the insinuations of the former Vice President and other desperate persons when he gave insights into the award process, the unit cost comparisons, the project  review dimensions, the demolition notices and compensation plans as well as those affected by the demolition.

3. For the avoidance of doubt, the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway project complied 100% with the provisions of the Procurement  Act and was awarded based on the EPC+ F procurement process, that is to say, the project is an unsolicited bid done on EPC+F. Under this model of procurement, the investor provides all the designs, part of the financing and construction, while the FGN pays counterpart funds. The bid of the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway project came through this process. The Ministry received the bid, worked on it, and sent the same to the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP). The BPP worked on it in accordance with the stipulations of the Procurement Act and came up with a competitive price slightly lower than the  Ministry’s price and even lower than the cost of similar projects awarded five years ago, including the Bodo-Bonny project awarded  to Julius Berger Nigeria Plc. The BPP issued a certificate of “No Objection” on the project to the Federal Ministry of Works as required by the Procurement Act. Consequently, the Federal Ministry of Works took the certificate of “No Objection” to the Federal Executive Council (FEC), and the FEC deliberated on and approved the same. It would be recalled that the FEC had first approved the project model on EPC+F before the process of procurement even started. This is a testament that the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway project,  section 1, followed due process. The claim of the former Vice President that the son of the President of Nigeria has interest in CDK Integrated Industries Ltd is not tenable as the company that did bid for the project was Hitech Construction Company Nigeria Ltd which has a full legal personality, as it were. Again, this claims is nothing but a digression showing absolute frustration of a false accuser who is bereaved of facts to substantiate his claims.

4. On the cost of award of the project and even other projects under His Excellency, Sen. Engr. Dr. Nweze David Umahi CON, it is of public notice and a sort of judicial notice that Sen. Umahi is second  to none in the history  of the Federal Ministry of Works in effectively negotiating costs of projects, and he does that with the deepest  sense of patriotism. The Honourable Minister of Works,  has within the shortest  period in office, saved billions of Naira in the review, redesign and award of contracts. The former Vice President and others who share in his misguided  views can honestly testify to this indisputable fact. In the case under review, the Honourable Minister had come up with a new and higher dimension of the project of which the design, dimension and concept were reviewed upward by the Ministry and yet the cost was drastically reduced downwards. The project, which was by the analysis  of the former Vice President put at a cost of about N8.552 billion per km of  standard  gauge, was meticulously  and judiciously  reduced  to about N4.329 billion per kilometer gauge by the Honourable Minister of Works under the new design and concept. The old concept and design relied upon by the former Vice President has a 52-metre corridor with asphalt, whereas the new concept as reviewed by the Honourable Minister of Works has a 100-metre corridor with a total concrete pavement of 59.2 metres and increased  size of 10 lanes and a provision for 25 metres for train track. As you know, the road standard used by the former Vice President  in his analysis  can not stand the test  of time because  of the  high water table  at the coastal  area. The quality of road design and construction by the Renewed Hope administration for the coastal  road is such that it will last for 50 to 100 years. In this regard  therefore,  it will not be immodest  to state that the former  Vice President displayed the highest  level of hypocrisy and was out to mislead and brainwash the unsuspecting members of the public, especially  the gullible,for selfish political reasons.

4. Further to the issue of due process raised by  concerned environmentalists and with the greatest respect  to the concerns of Laila Johnson-Salami, there was a preliminary approval issued in December 2023 by the Federal Ministry of Environment and the same renewed in January 2024. As you  know, Environmental and Social Impact Assessment ( ESIA) certification is progressive with the project’s progress and final certificate issued when all issues are resolved. This means that the Federal Ministry of Works has a certified ESIA to start the project. Even the Federal Ministry of Environment has confirmed  this  position  in their  recent press release, whereof they stated, among others, that Preliminary Impact Assessment certification was issued for site clearance and scopping  for compensation. The Federal Ministry of Works has redesigned the route to put human face to the decision to embark on the project and to minimize demolition of permanent structures. The  route, as it were, targets the demolition of mainly shanties and this demonstrates the human face in action of the Renewed Hope administration. The process of ESIA involves constant stakeholders’ engagement, of which many have taken place, and the Honourable Minister of Works has even participated in two of the meetings in Lagos which were broadcast live to buttress his sense of transparency, openness, probity and accountability, which are the tenets of the present administration. Compensation is ongoing and those  whose properties were affected appreciated the human face shown by the Honourable Minister of Works and they offered  to make sacrifice  as their  contribution  for the nation’s economic advancement. It need not be overemphasized  that the relevant notices were issued  and this led to a seamless compensation  process achieved without  rancor, except  in the case of the owner of Landmark whose psyche was manipulated by politicians moments after he appreciated the efforts of the Honourable Minister of Works  in ensuring  minimum  damage to properties on the right of way for which he acknowledged that he had no valid  title in favour thereof.


5. It will be reiterated  that the  Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway  is a historic project and Africa’s biggest super highway that is expected to be a major catalyst  of  Nigeria’s socio-economic transformation. Although it was conceptualized partly  at the time His Excellency, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar was the Vice President of this country,  successive administrations  failed to execute  it because  of lack of political  will. The Renewed Hope administration, being  private sector and FDI friendly, saw the need to  execute the project and on time through  ECP+ F model of funding. Again, this project  was appropriated by the 10th National Assembly and extra-ordinary  funding, as permitted by law, was required  to execute  the project, hence the ECP+ F Hitech  contract This is a legislative practice that is well known and very consistent with the Constitution of Nigeria 199 as Amended. This super  highway  will trigger economic boom, raise the GDP, create greater  tourism  potentials, create wealth and job opportunities, attract  wider Foreign Direct Investment, boost coastal businesses, trade and market  development, and promote industrialization, especially along  the coastal  corridors with far reaching impact on the social-economic activities and safety along the feeder routes and spurs. Nigeria will be a great country  when the 10-lane super highway  of 700 kilometres  with a train track is completed. As for the speed and quality of work, you can always trust the track records  of the President  of Nigeria  and his Honourable Minister of Works  in service delivery. I hope this matter will be laid to final rest by all critics.

6. For those who are pessimistic and those who seek to malign the Honourable Minister of Works, especially  those who described  him as a “miserable FEDERALIST AND ONE OF THOSE WHO CLAIM TO LOVE NIGERIA AT THEIR OWN PERIL” particularly as verbosely captured in the publication  made in the Daily Sun of  of 6th May 2024 by one columnist and perhaps a separatist agitatator,  Amanze Obi, the Honourable Minister is passionate about restoring the confidence of Nigerians in the utility value of road infrastructure nationwide.  He has no business with their political permutations of the future and he has not castigated anyone or anyone’s opinion in the course of discharging his mandate as the Honourable Minister of Works,  Federal Republic of Nigeria, except that he needed to put issues in their proper perspective as regards the concerns raised by politicians on the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway project. Of note is the fact that he has a good personal  relationship with his brother, His Excellency, Peter Gregory Onwubuasi Obi, CON, and this is mutually respected by each of the two. If Amanze Obi has chosen to be a bigot, as insinuated in his ill-mannered and erratic  publication, the Honourable Minister of Works believes in one Nigeria where there is love, fairness and equal opportunities, and where every citizen  must work for the unity and progress of the country  with a deep sense of patriotism  and truth.

7. The Honourable Minister of Works, His Excellency Sen. Engr. Dr. Nweze David Umahi CON  is unwavering  in his passion  and commitment  to Nigeria’s road infrastructure  revolution and he is ahead of the detractors  who do not see anything  good in having a country, we can all be proud of. As a nation- builder, he is committed to reflecting the ideals of these aspirations in all his private and public dealing irrespective of the person’s religion, tribe, tongue or political affiliation.


Hon. Barr. Orji Uchenna Orji
Special Adviser (Media) to the Honourable Minister of Works


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