Coastal Highway done purely because of Tinubu, Chagoury business relationship – Atiku

Friday Ajagunna
Friday Ajagunna
Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway demolition

The 2023 presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, has said that the lack of proper notification regarding the demolition of tourist and recreational amenities, as well as other properties within the Oniru corridor, including sections of Landmark in Lagos State, to facilitate the construction of the Coastal Highway, is a key factor contributing to Nigeria’s ongoing struggle to attract foreign direct investments.

Criticism and praise continue to surround the ongoing development of the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway.

In recent times, the demolition of numerous recreational centers in Lagos has been carried out to expedite the construction of the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway.

Minister of Works, Dave Umahi, has consistently defended the demolitions, stressing the necessity of clearing the landmark centre and others situated within the Federal Government’s Right-of-Way.

Compensation payments to affected property owners began on Wednesday, initiated by the Federal Government.

In a statement released by his media adviser, Paul Ibe, on Sunday, Atiku alleged that the Coastal Highway project is being expedited solely due to the business ties between President Bola Tinubu and Gilbert Chagoury, the owner of Hitech, the contractor responsible for the highway project.

The ex-Vice President asserted that the contract was granted in violation of procurement regulations. He further highlighted that the involvement of President Bola Tinubu’s son and his associates on the boards of companies belonging to Gilbert Chagoury presents a clear conflict of interest.

He stated, “The fact that President Bola Tinubu’s son and his surrogates are on the board of companies owned by Gilbert Chagoury constitutes a conflict of interest.

The former Vice President noted that “Tinubu’s son, Seyi, is a director on the board of CDK Integrated Industries, a subsidiary of the Chagoury Group, which manufactures ceramic tiles and sanitary towels.

Atiku, describing it as unsurprising that the Chagoury Group had emerged as the primary recipient of Tinubu’s generosity, stated, “Thanks to quality reporting by Africa Intelligence, our suspicions have been confirmed that Chagoury and Tinubu are indeed business partners and it has been formalized with Seyi on the board of one of Chagoury’s firms.”

He contended that instead of enhancing the ease of doing business, the Tinubu government had allegedly demonstrated to the global community that his business endeavours and those of his family would consistently take precedence over national interests.

The statement read in part, “The former Vice President restated that it has become obvious even to the undiscerning that the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway is being done in a hurry purely because of the business relationship between Tinubu and Gilbert Chagoury, the owner of Hitech, the contractor that was awarded the contract for the highway project in contravention of the procurement laws. It is on record that this project is the most expensive single project ever embarked upon by the Nigerian government. The fact that it is happening at a time when Nigeria is facing its worst economic crisis ever is a red flag.

“To add insult to injury, this project that is being done more than $13bn was awarded without competitive bidding. From all indications, the so-called Badagry-Sokoto highway would be awarded similarly at an enormous cost to taxpayers, purely because Tinubu has put his interest ahead of the Nigerian people.”

“Atiku said the demolition of tourist and recreational facilities and other properties within the Oniru corridor, including parts of Landmark, without ample notice, is one of the reasons foreign direct investments continue to elude the country.

He argued that “rather than improving the ease of doing business, the Tinubu administration had shown the world that his personal business interests and those of his family would always be prioritized over and above national interests.”

Atiku noted that investors observe the treatment of local businesses and would avoid regions where their investments lack protection.

He added that in more orderly environments, establishments like Landmark would have been provided with a minimum of two years’ notice to facilitate proper planning.

The former PDP presidential candidate stated, “Tinubu has been globetrotting in search of foreign direct investments. He claims to have secured over $30 billion from various companies, but none has been forthcoming. Rather, all manufacturing firms have been posting heavy losses while some are exiting due to his poorly implemented exchange rate unification policy, with even Aliko Dangote describing it as a huge mess at the recent annual general meeting of Dangote Sugar Refinery.

“The IMF stated in its latest report that Nigeria will, by the end of the year, become the 4th largest economy in Africa behind South Africa, Egypt, and Algeria, a disgraceful development for a nation that was the largest in Africa by a mile when the PDP left the stage in 2015.

“Investors are seeing how local businesses are being treated and will not come to a place where their investments will not be protected. In saner climes, businesses such as Landmark would have been given at least two years’ notice for effective planning. But Tinubu’s eagerness to satisfy his business partners impaired his ability to coordinate the project properly.

“The awarding of the Lagos-Calabar coastal highway was rushed; the environmental impact assessment report was not even completed; the right of way for the 700 km stretch of the highway project was not secured; it was converted from a PPP to a government-funded project within the twinkle of an eye. The N500m that was approved by the National Assembly for the project was ignored, while over N1tn was released by Tinubu’s administration without approval from the National Assembly.”

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