Politics Updated: April 08, 2024

Atiku accuses Tinubu of awarding Lagos-Calabar coastal highway contract to his ally

April 08, 2024

Former Vice President and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 presidential election, Atiku Abubakar, has accused President Bola Tinubu of awarding the construction of the 700km Lagos-Calabar coastal highway to an ally.

Atiku who made the accusation in a statement issued on his behalf on Sunday by his Media Coordinator, Paul Ibe, alleged that the company that won the 47.47 kilometres highway dual carriageway contract, Hitech Construction Company Ltd, is owned by a crony of the President.

He added that in awarding the contract to the company, Tinubu had put his personal business interests before Nigeria's infrastructure by engaging in questionable dealings at the detriment of the country. 

Minister of Works, Dave Umahi had revealed last week that work on the much anticipated Lagos-Calabar coastal highway would soon commence with the award of the contract to Hitech Construction Company Ltd.

In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Orji Uchenna, Umahi said the contractor had commenced work following the formal handover of the initial phase of the project comprising 47.47 kilometres of dual carriageway to Hitech.


But while reacting to the Minister’s statement, Atiku said the project was allocated to Hitech Construction Company Limited owned by billionaire businessman, Gilbert Chagoury, whom he described as an ally of President Tinubu "devoid of any documented competitive bidding process or decision by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

“The so-called pilot phase from Eko Atlantic to Lekki Deep Sea Port was initially conceived as a Lagos State Government project but because of its huge cost coupled with the fact that Lagos State has a huge debt burden no thanks to Tinubu, the Federal Government is now implementing it under the guise of Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway," Atiku said. 

"This perhaps explains why there are fears that the project will never get to Calabar, and this is the same reason the project is beginning from Lagos and not Calabar.

“Despite not revealing the cost of this entire project, the Tinubu administration is now on the verge of setting up a so-called Renewed Hope Infrastructure Development Fund, a fund targeted at constructing capital projects without the usual budgeting process.

“More curious is the fact that the entire pilot phase of this project begins and ends in Lagos, especially within the axis of Bola Tinubu’s business interests. It is no secret that both Tinubu and Chagoury are business partners.


“This same Hitech, owned by Chagoury, was unable to complete the 50km Lekki-Epe Expressway. Despite installing two tollgates along the axis, Hitech which was part of the Lekki Concession Company consortium, was only able to construct about 20km, forcing the Lagos State Government to buy it back at the cost of N7.5bn ($50 million at the time) in 2013, which came at a loss to the people of Lagos.

“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’.

“Umahi refused to reveal how much the project would cost. He only explained that it would run through nine states and would have a railroad running through the middle. 

"Most importantly, the works minister said the project would come at zero cost to Nigeria, which is currently facing an all-time high level of debt.

"The build, operate, and transfer indicates that Hitech would construct the road, operate it for a certain period, recoup its investment through tollgates, and subsequently return it to the Nigerian government.


“Because the project did not require public funds, it did not go through approval from the National Assembly, which holds the power of appropriation. 

"Also, the project only went through the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission  with no record of a competitive bidding since Chagoury’s firm was to fund the project 100 per cent.

“However, to the shock of many Nigerians, Umahi returned to FEC with a memo in March 2024 seeking the approval of N1.06tn that would be paid to Chagoury’s firm for the first phase of the project which is wholly in Lagos.

“This pilot phase was to begin from the edge of Chagoury’s Eko Atlantic City on Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island, and terminate at the Lekki Deep Sea Port, Ibeju-Lekki, a distance of 47.47km. 

"Till date, the Tinubu administration has refused to reveal how much the project will cost in total. Umahi, who even came on Channels Television recently, evaded questions as to the total cost of the project.

“But if 47.47km costs about N1.06tn, it means each kilometre is being built at N22.5bn or $18m. For a project that is going to be 700km, it means the total cost could be N15.7tn or $12.56bn, which is higher than previous estimates," Atiku said.

He therefore warned that the renewed Hope Infrastructure Fund under Tinubu’s discretion, might serve as another avenue for diverting public funds through dubious projects.

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