Abandoned projects and the culture of waste in Nigeria

Nigeria has been bleeding profusely from waste in the economy as a result of corruption, abandoned projects and misplaced priorities by successive governments.
In Nigeria, most likely than not, projects are initiated based on political reasons and not necessarily due to the needs of the people. As a result, we have abandoned projects spread around the country which have come at a huge cost to the country.
These ‘white elephant’ projects were initiated without the necessary needs assessment and when they were begun, the approved funds were diverted to private pockets or overtaken by other projects which were seemingly more important at that point.
Some other projects were abandoned due to political considerations by successive governments from different political parties and even from the same party. They just don’t see the need to continue these projects and therefore abandon them and start new ones.
That is the culture of governance in practice in Nigeria since independence and the country is no better for it.
According to Fifehan Ogunde in StearsBusiness, “a 2012 report indicated that about 12,000 federal government projects had been abandoned between 1962 and 2012”.
“From a strictly monetary perspective, a report by the Chartered Institute of Project Management in 2017 suggested that abandoned projects with regard to existing structures alone amount to over ₦12 trillion—that is 10% of the economy. A former Minister of Works put the costs of abandoned projects at ₦17 trillion, based on an investigation during the Jonathan administration”, he added.
According to him, this situation has come with grave implication on the nation’s fragile economy.
 “The scarcity of up-to-date data also means that the extent of the losses cannot be fully quantified. Even more difficult to estimate is the opportunity cost of these projects. If an abandoned project costs ₦150 million, not only have we lost ₦150 million, but we have also lost the opportunity to spend that amount on alternative projects like building schools or hospitals. This is why it is crucial to make the right investment decisions on costly long term projects,” he stated.
Also, Sebastian Ebatamehi, writing on The African Exponent, gave a shocking revelation of the result of a survey carried out on abandoned projects spread across the country.
“According to the Director of Administration of Chartered Institute of Project Management of Nigeria, Mr. David Godswill Okoronkwo, there were at the time of compilation of the survey report, approximately 56,000 abandoned government projects across the country’s geopolitical zones”, he revealed.
According to him, “a report by a reputable media organization in the country states that the breakdown of the abandoned projects shows that 15,000 of them are in the South-East, 11,000 in the South-South, 10,000 in the South-West, 6000 in the North-West, 7000 in the North-Central, 5000 in North-East, and 2000 in Abuja”.
Meanwhile, despite the menace of abandoned projects in the country which are mostly due to misplaced priorities, corruption and political considerations, recent governments have not shown any will and determination to break from this negative culture of governance.
For instance, in spite of the fact that several first and second-generation universities in Nigeria are grappling with inadequate infrastructure for students, the Goodluck Jonathan government went on to establish ten new federal universities, which are today not living up to the purpose for which they were established. The existing universities should have been strengthened with more facilities based on their needs.
Unfortunately, the present government is busy establishing more tertiary institutions for reasons best known to them.
Some of these institutions like the Transport University Katsina, Army University Biu, Airforce University Bauchi among several others, have been approved by the Federal Government and ready for take-off. But that is at the expense of the more established universities in the country who are begging for infrastructure and research grants.
The present government has however expressed its determination to complete abandoned projects like the Ajaokuta Steel Complex, the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, East-West road and so on. The nation is waiting to see if they will act on their words.


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