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Presidency replies Atiku over Lagos-Calabar highway criticism



Presidency replies Atiku over Lagos-Calabar highway criticism
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The Presidency has taken a swipe at former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, over his criticism of award of the contract for the construction of the multi-billion dollar Lagos-Calabar Coastal highway to Gilbert Chagoury, the owner of Hitech Construction Company Ltd, whom he claims is a crony and business partner of President Bola Tinubu, without any competitive bidding.

Atiku, in a statement on Sunday issued by his Media Coordinator, Paul Ibe, accused Tinubu of awarding the contract to Chagoury who is his ally “devoid of any documented competitive bidding process or decision by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).”

“Tinubu has once again put his personal business interest ahead of that of the Nigerian people in violation of his oath of office where he swore that ‘I will not allow my personal interest to influence my official conduct or my official decisions,” part of Atiku’s statement had alleged.

But while responding to the allegations on Monday, Special Adviser on Information and Strategy to the President, Bayo Onanuga, described Atiku’s comments as misrepresenting facts, advising him to go back to the library and get the real facts on the contract.

Onanuga stated that Atiku’s statement was full of inconsistencies as he allegedly allowed himself to be led into a blind alley by his poorly informed aides.

He noted that the Lagos-Calabar Coastal highway and Lagos-Calabar Coastal rail are two distinct projects which, according to him, was unfortunate that the former Vice President got confused about the two projects.

The Presidency’s statement titled ‘Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway: Atiku Abubakar makes his hollow point again,’ noted that Atiku was not fully informed about the projects and as such, made his comments out of ignorance.

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“Contrary to the claims in Atiku’s endorsed press statement, at no time did the administrations of former Presidents Muhammadu Buhari and Goodluck Jonathan award contracts for the construction of the Lagos-Calabar Coastal highway to any company at any varied and revised amount. So, the question of cost comparison does not arise,” the Presidency said.

“The contract was awarded on August 4, 2021, by the Federal Executive Council presided over by former Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, at $11.17bn. The contract was to be completed in six years. The project didn’t take off.

“The Lagos-Calabar Coastal rail project has always been on the card. It was another testament to the failure of the previous PDP-led government that it could not get it off the ground in the 16 years it held sway.

“Atiku queried the decision to start the coastal road from Lagos and not Calabar, oblivious of the huge impact such will make on export-import flow around the industrial zones.


“We are at a loss as to what the former VP hopes to achieve with his assertion. Is it not a received wisdom that a thousand-mile journey begins with a step?

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“To Atiku’s chagrin and utter disappointment, the Lagos-Calabar Coastal highway has been rightly praised for the huge economic impact it will create and how it will be a game-changer in improving the quality of life of Nigerians, especially the economy of the nine coastal states it will pass through. Importantly, the road will boost the agricultural and tourism economy on a grand scale.

“Seeking to be a killjoy, Atiku Abubakar engaged in red-herring by raising ill-thought-out allegations that only exposed his inadequacies and those of his team in getting the basic facts on an issue he badly seeks to nail the government.

“Whether the project begins from Lagos or Calabar, Warri or Sapele, what should gladden the heart of any patriotic Nigerian is that this important project that has been in the pipeline for several decades has finally taken off.