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Building Connections – The Value of Our Transport Networks

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By Tobechukwu Okigbo

Over the years, embarking on road trips across Nigeria has provided me with some of the most fulfilling and memorable experiences of my life.

Building Connections - The Value of Our Transport Networks

Tobechukwu Okigbo, Chief Corporate Services Officer of MTN Nigeria.

Our country is blessed with natural and beautiful landscapes, local cultures, languages and architecture that change as you move through the states or geo-political zones.

It’s only when you travel like this that you experience the richness of our diversity, providing a much-needed perspective and deeper understanding of our country.

When you can’t see a country for what it really is, then you are especially vulnerable to the manipulation of more radical elements.

Travelling through these places gives one a direct connection to them, and it is those connections that are so important to our cohesion.

Unfortunately, the option to travel by road is more limited today than it has been in the past, especially taking into consideration the prevailing security challenges.

Nigeria currently is quite low in the global ranking of road networks to people ratio, with many important roads in various state of disrepair.

This has an impact, not only on our individual ability to explore and understand our nation, building connections between us, but on our economy; limiting domestic trade, commerce and tourism, driving up costs and so reducing our competitiveness.

In turn, this impacts productivity, employment and puts a brake on improvements to living standards.

When a farmer struggles to get his produce to the market, the quality of the produce available to the consumer is lower and costs more.

When a petroleum marketer needs to move product from Lagos to Kano, the time it takes is a direct input into the price differentials we see across the country.

When it takes longer for a can of Coca-Cola to navigate the roads in the East, then it costs more for the consumer when it gets there.

When tourists fly into major cities but are unwilling to brave our roads and cannot explore our regions, we lose not just income, but the ability to share our culture and heritage with others.

At a very human level, poor roads contribute to unnecessary accidents and deaths.

The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) estimates that 3,700 people lost their lives in the first ten months of 2022, and road quality is one of the top-ten causes of those accidents.

These challenges are not new, and the impact is understood by the government.

The Senate has estimated that Nigeria loses over N1 trillion in annual revenue due to bad roads, revenue which is critical to us as a nation.

The Federal Roads Management Agency (FERMA) estimates that the cost of loss in man-hours due to traffic caused by poor roads is N1.02 trillion every year.

This is before we consider the additional costs associated with price inflation that Nigerians and Nigerian businesses have to absorb.

Many will put the responsibility to fix roads solely on government. Besides, what are the governments at various levels doing if they cannot fix the roads.

Indeed, in fairness to the current administration, a lot of work has been done in both road repairs and the construction of new ones.

But the truth is, the expectations are very high. However, the reality is that the government alone cannot fix all the roads.

They only have to be strategic and take the lead on an integrated approach to providing motorable roads to the citizenry, which is why in recognition of the importance of improving our road infrastructure, the Nigerian government conceived and launched the Road Infrastructure Tax Credit (RITC) in 2019, a tax incentive programme to crowd in private sector finance for road construction, maintenance and repair.

It is designed to accelerate the investments that can be made to improve the network of roads in the country.

The government recognises the severity of the funding gap that exists, and that partnerships are required to deliver better roads, faster.

Not only does the RITC programme mobilise additional funding, it ensures that public budgets can be allocated to other equally pressing development priorities.

When done well, with proper planning, design and monitoring, these programmes attract significant private sector support and deliver impressive results.

Recognising that the RITC programme encapsulates everything that we at MTN call shared value, we are proud to have marked the 20th anniversary of our operation in Nigeria in 2021, by successfully bidding to reconstruct the 110km dual carriage Enugu-Onitsha expressway.

There is no better way of demonstrating the strength of the partnership between MTN and Nigeria, than by directly contributing to a project that benefits the government, business and the people by improving people’s ability to connect.

It is a tangible manifestation of our belief that “We’re good together” and an extension of our purpose to enable the benefits of a modern connected life to everyone.

MTN will invest N202.8 billion in the rehabilitation of the road, receiving tax credits of the equivalent value that it can use to offset future tax liabilities.

Work has already commenced on the road with a delivery schedule that anticipates people will be able to use it within 18 months.

We fully understand the strategic importance of the Enugu-Onitsha road to the eastern economy and Nigeria at large.

For us, the completion of the rehabilitation of the expressway is more than fixing a road. It is more than a road; it is connecting people and opening an economy.

It is about creating memories for people to appreciate the beauty of our land.

I am incredibly excited at the potential of this partnership to embed a culture of collaboration between the public and private sector in Nigeria.

It is not just MTN that recognises this opportunity. The strong design of the RITC is evidenced in the range of other private sector partners that are joining the programme.

By working together, we can accelerate progress towards national development goals, make life easier for Nigerians and improve the prospects for all businesses, large and small.

Personally, I look forward to driving on the Enugu-Onitsha expressway, to re-ignite my passion for road trips, and seeing the vibrant beauty that is Nigeria.

It is not just about fixing a road; it is about accelerating connectedness and building lasting partnerships.

We’re good together!

Okigbo is the Chief Corporate Services Officer of MTN Nigeria.


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Nigerians Pay Some N87m in Bribes to Public, Private Officials In 2023

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At least N87 million bribes were paid to Nigerian public and private officials in 2023, according to data from National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Nigerians Pay Some N87m in Bribes to Public, Private Officials In 2023

NBS data also indicated that of all Nigerian citizens who had at least one contact with a public official in the 12 months prior to the 2023 survey, 27 per cent paid a bribe to a public official.

According to the Bureau, Nigerians’ confidence in the government’s anti-corruption effort has been declining over time and across regions.

“While in 2019, more than half of all citizens thought that the government was effective in fighting corruption, in 2023, the share declined to less than a third of all citizens.

“The downward trend in the citizens’ confidence is observable across the entire country, with all six zones recording reductions of more than 10 percentage points between 2019 and 2023 in terms of the share of citizens who thought the government was effective in fighting corruption,” it stated.


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12 Professors, 15 Others Inducted into Shell Sabbatical, Research Positions

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The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) Joint Venture has significantly expanded its educational initiatives by inducting 27 Nigerian academics and research interns.

12 Professors, 15 Others Inducted into Shell Sabbatical, Research Positions

A cross section of participants in the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) Joint Venture’s 2024 sabbatical and research programme in a group photograph with the leadership of SPDC’s Corporate Relations team at the induction ceremony held in Port Harcourt…recently.

This year’s programme, a 35% increase from the previous year, welcomed eight professors, four senior lecturers, and 15 other participants.

Held at the company’s headquarters in Port Harcourt, the induction ceremony marked the beginning of a one-year programme focused on knowledge exchange and skill development.

Drawn from 13 Nigerian universities, these participants will gain valuable industry experience in fields like biodiversity, petroleum engineering, and environmental impact assessment.

“The research and internship programmes are central to our commitment to supporting higher education in Nigeria,” explained Mr. Igo Weli, Shell Nigeria’s Head of Corporate Relations, and SPDC Director.

He described the programme as mutually beneficial nature by offering Shell access to specialised expertise from professors and lecturers, who in turn acquire practical industry knowledge and exposure to cutting-edge technologies.

Despite operational challenges, Mr. Weli reaffirmed Shell’s position as the industry leader in fostering a positive learning environment and empowering people.

Representing Mrs. Bunmi Edith Lawson, NNPC Upstream Investment Management Services, echoed Mr. Weli’s sentiments. She highlighted the programme’s significance in scientific exploration, environmental stewardship, and knowledge advancement.

“This is an investment in the next generation of innovators,” she stated, “and a way for us to give back to our stakeholders.”

The 2024 programme includes participants from a diverse range of universities across Nigeria, including the University of Benin, Rivers State University, University of Ibadan, Niger Delta University, and Ahmadu Bello University.

Others are Bingham University Karu, Federal University Wukari, University of Medical Sciences, Ondo State, Covenant University, Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike, Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo, University of Uyo, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, and Michael Okpara University of Agriculture.

 

 


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Ex Power Minister who Allegedly Stole N33Bn Gets N10Bn Bail

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Saleh Mamman, former minister of Power, who was charged for a N33 billion fraud by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been granted bail.

Ex Power Minister who Allegedly Stole N33Bn Gets N10Bn Bail

During a sitting on Friday, at the Federal High Court in Abuja, Mamman was granted N10 billion billion with two sureties in like sum.

Issuing the verdict, James Omotosho, chief judge, held that the sureties must be owners of landed properties within the Federal Capital Territory with a minimum valuation of N750 million.

The judge stated that the sureties must swear an affidavit of means and submit their three-year tax clearance certificates, adding that certified copies of the defendant and sureties’ bank statements and their most recent passport photograph must also be submitted.

In addition, the judge directed the defendant to turn in his international passport to the court’s registrar, stating that the registrar must confirm every document before the defendant is allowed to leave custody.

The court further ordered that the defendant be held in jail until all bail requirements were fulfilled and that the sureties could provide a bank guarantee or bond of N10 billion. The case has been adjourned until September 25, 2024.

On Thursday, July 11, the judge ordered the remand of the former minister at the Kuje Prison after his not-guilty plea to all the 12-count charges preferred against him. His lawyer, Femi Ate, a senior advocate, however, told the court that a bail application had been filed on behalf of his client.

Although the judge stated the bail application had not yet made it into the court file, the lawyer representing the EFCC, Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika, also a senior advocate, admitted that the application had been received.

Meanwhile, the defendant had collapsed outside the courtroom before the hearing on Thursday but was revived with the help of his lawyers and some medical personnel at the court.

 


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