“What reasons were given for the destruction of toll gates by Obasanjo in the first place? Obasanjo did not give any reson for destroying them and the media did not challenge him at that time. So, to me it is a restoration of what used to be. But let me say that in conjuction with the removal of the so-called fuel subsidy, even if it is economically justifiable, the timing is wrong and the government does not exercise political judgement in introducing such measures.”
Chief Olu Falae
The government argument for the policy is that revenue that will accrue from the tolling will be ploughed back into road maintenance and rehabilitation. Chief Falae dismissed that with a wave of hand saying “the question that we should ask is that what have they done with the trillions of naira budget for the past 12 years? I live in Akure and yet I don’t see any sign here that there is a federal government here.
So, if the trillions of naira budget have no impact on my life, why should the toll gate revenue have any impact in my life.” This government is extremely wasteful, they over paid themselves, they waste public funds, the additional harship this will inflict is not going to be justified by any additional services the government is going to render. I don’t have confidence in this government’s ability to manage the economy for the good of the masses. I don’t like that argument at all,” he said.
Most argument being put forward by the pro government toll policy advocates is that government has no funding capacity to put the roads in good shape and to further sustain the needed maintainance culture required.
Chief Falae immediately countered the argument saying: “What has this government got any capacity for? He queried. “Is it security, so much that the President cannot go to Eagle Square and some other places? Security operatives now determine what he does and what he doesn’t do. Is it to provide employment for Nigerians?
What has this government got the capacity to do? that is the question. I don’t think the government has the capacity to do very much in any area.”
Suggesting the way forward, he said it is not just having better roads in Nigeria but a better economy. “The roads are just a part of the economy, it is a part of the transportaion sector.
In that sector, there are other means like rail, air and water. All these are in a shambles. So, the transport sector is in a mess. Trasnport system is the very life wire of every economy because whatever you produced has to be transported and not just road but the entire transport sector.
“We have been advocating the articulation of National Development Plan Programme on each sector. What does this government want to do in the sector for the next four years and why?
What do they want to do in education that we can see and feel in the next four years? Ditto for health, Agriculture and others. They don’t tell us. They only tell us 20-2020, ‘we want to catch up with the rest of the world without power’.
It is a joke. Power is the key to economic development, to the survival of our people. We don’t have 3000 mega watts. In 1975-78, we advocated 6000 mega watts by 1980. This is 35 years later. What kind of government is that and what kind of economy is that? ”
The septugenerian noted: “The present situation is bad enough. I don’t see any ray of hope really and I don’t see any light at the end of that tunnel of indecisiveness, of lack of any programme. A lot of money is stolen and lots are wasted. I am sorry, I am in a very depressed mood about the Nigerian economy and government.”
Falae argued that though it is true that the practice all over the world is that tolls are collected and revenue ploughed back into road maintenance, he said that is a theory but do we do it here? “With what we are getting from oil (over a $100), yet, we can’t make any impact and why is the removal of subsidy that will bring a marginal revenue be the one that will make a difference.
If you can’t manage the bulk of the revenue, why should we expect you to be able to manage the additional revenue that we’ve got today. This government has no confidence and managment skills. Nothing drives it that you can recognise. Bringing in Okonjo-Iweala, she is a technocract, economist and all that, but one thing is particular about political leadership.
The leadership indicates the direction We are to go and the technicians follow. It appears everything has been left for Okonjo-Iweala and she is not the one we voted for. It is unfair to her for government to virtually abandon leadership roles and ask her to just carry on doing the role of both a leader and technocrat. It is not right and it is unfair,” he stated.