Mar 17, 2011

Ogoni: Activist Challenges Presidential Candidates on Growth Plan

Ogoni and environmental rights activist, Mr. Patrick Naagbanton, laments the Nigerian presidential candidates for having no plans to tackle the country’s severe infrastructure problems


Below is an article published by All Voices:


A frontline Ogoni and environmental rights activist, Mr. Patrick Naagbanton, has taken on the presidential candidates of political parties in Nigeria, claiming that they do not seem to have the magic wand to turn the country's economy around for the greater good of the citizens.


Some of the country's presidential candidates for this April polls include Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Muhammadu Buhari of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Nuhu Ribadu of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Chris Okotie of Fresh Democratic Party (FDP), among others.


Naagbanton, who is the Co-ordinator of the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development, told AkanimoReports at Nchia, in Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State, in an interview on Wednesday [16 March 2011] that Nigeria was suffering from a severe infrastructure deficit, which according to him, was hindering economic development.


He is claiming that the energy sector alone requires an investment of around $5.00 billion every year, to address the country's significant shortfall in electricity supply.


The activist is of the view that total infrastructure financing needs for the country was around $12 billion each year and just under half of that total was required for the energy sector.


But, it appears, foreign investment would be crucial to significantly reduce the Nigerian energy sectorï's financing profile.


Naagbanton is however, insisting that the way to address country's severe power shortage is with the assistance of the private sector.


''It is essential that the presidential candidates of political parties focus on the creation of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) to attract more private sector investment'', he said, pointing out that the best PPP units had established programmes of prioritised investment opportunities with features including clear political support, a proper legal and regulatory structure, a transparent procurement framework, and support services to facilitate implementing project timetables.


Adding, he said, ''these features reduced uncertainty, lowered the risk profile, and improved viability of PPP projects. And very importantly, Nigeria must develop her energy needs in a clean way''.