Barely a week after commissioning the 304 kilometre Sokoto-Tambuwal-Jega-
President Buhari, who was represented at the occasion by the Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Senator George Akume, said the roads being turned out by his administration represented the story of the capacity of Nigerians, employed both directly and indirectly, as not only nation builders but also the heart of the economy, as represented by the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, which he described as “drivers of our economy”, who were responsible for the supply of the various materials and equipment for the construction of the roads.
Also describing the roads as “a statement of economic efficiency and ease of doing business”, Buhari explained that by substantially reducing the travel times of commuters on the completed ones the roads also form part of the prosperity being created for the country by his administration adding, “because reduced journey times means reduced expense on travel, because time is money”.
The President pointed out that Vandeikya-Obudu Cattle Ranch Road, like all other roads being built by his administration, also symbolized change as it included such road furniture as the lane markings and Route Assurance signs which, he observed, “had all but disappeared on our highways”, adding that his administration’s commitment to change has restored them.
Explaining that the lane markings would help drivers to achieve better lane management and control of their vehicles; while the Route Assurance Signs provide information about how much further or longer, the drivers and commuters have to travel and the distance to the next village, town or state, the President declared, “For your safety and that of other road users, I implore you not to exceed 100 KM. We want you alive to witness and be part of the prosperity and promise of Nigeria. I wish you safe and happy motoring”.
He also stressed the need for safety and compliance to traffic regulations as more of the nation’s roads were being made motorable and travel experiences more pleasurable, adding that safety consciousness on the part of motorists would reduce hazards on the roads to the barest minimum.
The President, who also called for strict compliance to the nation’s Highway Code in order for the road and others being built across the country to attain their design life, said the better travel experience being enjoyed by commuters on the current new and well-built roads, as against the old and previously unmotorable roads, represented one of the critical elements of change promised Nigerians by the present administration.
Still emphasizing his concern for the safety of commuters on the roads, Buhari declared, “Now that we have these new and well-built roads, we have duties to ourselves and to other road users. One of those duties is to ensure that we drive in accordance with the law as stipulated in the Highway Code”, adding that the “maximum driving speed on this and other Federal Highways nationwide is 100 (hundred) KM and no more”.
He also cautioned against abuse of the roads saying as the Federal Government committed to delivering on its promise to give Nigerians good and quality road network, it was incumbent on the people not to abuse the roads in order to enable them service the nation through their design life.
Such abuses, the President said, include overloading of vehicles and trucks which, according to him, accelerates pavement damage, spilling of petroleum products which dissolves the road components and allows water to penetrate and converting the road shoulders to permanent parking places, which brings the onset of road failure from the shoulder.
“We must all do our best to avoid these practices, report them when they occur and act in a lawful manner to stop them”, the President said adding that the commissioned road, which links Benue and Cross River State, “has been built to the highest quality of design and workmanship and if well used and not abused, should last for the designed service life”.
In his remarks earlier, the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN, while commending all those who contributed to the realization of the “Season of Completion and Impact”, especially the investors in the first and second SUKUK and other agencies of government, added that the Vandeikya-Obudu Cattle Ranch Road represented the second of many more project Completion and Handovers Nigerians would experience in the next few weeks and months.
Fashola, who was represented by the Director Highways, North Central Zone, Engr. Rugba Emenoge, listed other such roads to include the 142.2 x 2 (dual) Kilometre Kano- Maiduguri Road (Section II) between Shuwarin and Azare, connecting Jigawa and Bauchi States, the 106.3 x 2 Kilometre Kano-Maiduguri Road (Section III) between Azare and Potiskum, connecting Bauchi and Yobe States and Nnewe- Uduma- Uburu Road covering 26.27 Kilometers with 14 Kilometers spur to Ishiagu connecting Enugu and Ebonyi States, in Ebonyi State.
Expressing delight at the commissioning of the Vandeikya-Obudu Cattle Ranch Road, the Minister declared, “These projects represent major investment in road Transport infrastructure, which is a commitment of the Buhari administration as a driver for economic growth and prosperity.
They are visible and incontrovertible Assets in proof of what Nigeria’s resources are invested in, from a combination of our earned resources, and borrowings”.
The Minister, who noted that the SUKUK was currently contributing to progress of work on 44 roads across Nigeria, aside the impact of the funding in the completion of major road projects such as the Azare – Potiskum, Shuwarin – Potiskum and Sokoto-Tambuwal- Kontagora Roads, also thanked the Ministry of Finance, and the members of the National Assembly, “especially the Chairmen of the Senate and House Committees on Works in the 8th and 9th Assembly for their support as well as the Debt Management Office for their role in previous SUKUKs which, according to him, have been most innovative and impactful nationwide, and for the SUKUK still being expected.
Fashola also thanked the Ministry’s staff and contractors who, he acknowledged, “have worked very hard to bring these projects to conclusion” as well as the host communities for their cooperation without which progress would have been impossible.
“I hold them out as examples of what peace can achieve, and the investments that collaboration and some sacrifice can deliver if we embrace partnership with Government”, he said.
The Minister’s gratitude also went to the Federal Executive Council, which included all Ministers in the first term and the current term, for their support, the President and Vice President “who presided for long hours over the Council meetings” and the Governors of Bauchi, Jigawa, Benue, Cross Rivers, Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Enugu and Ebonyi, who, according to him “bear witness to fruits and the evidence of change by the Buhari administration. “And there is more to come”, he said.
Members of the Vandeikya community, including traditional rulers, who turned out in large numbers, expressed their gratitude to the Federal Government, President Buhari and the Minister of Works and Housing for starting the project and seeing it to completion.