*FCT Needs N2.6bn To Repair Vandalized Manholes ― Minister
The Federal Government has said that any form of vandalism on critical infrastructure or destruction of public infrastructure is unpatriotic and an act of terrorism.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said this during a town hall meeting on the protection of Public Infrastructure, held in Abuja.
The Minister said despite the paucity of funds, the Federal government had embarked on massive development of public infrastructure, yet some unpatriotic elements vandalize them.
“But since coming into office in 2015, the Muhammadu Buhari Administration has embarked on rapid economic growth with equity, i.e. people-centred economic management as well as prioritizing human capital development through enhanced social services and infrastructure development.
“This explains why the Federal Government deliberately adopted an inclusive development framework that spreads infrastructure to all sections of the country. Despite a drastic drop in revenues and competing priorities, especially that of tackling insecurity, the Administration has invested heavily in providing new infrastructure, in addition to reconstructing and rehabilitating existing ones.
“However, in recent times, such laudable efforts of the government are being thwarted by some unpatriotic citizens through wanton destruction of critical infrastructure, thereby depriving the greater citizenry – for whose benefits these projects and services are provided – from enjoying them.
“Railway tracks are being subjected to wanton destruction, bridge railings are being removed, manhole covers are being pilfered, street lights and other power infrastructure, oil pipelines, telecoms facilities and critical aviation infrastructure are being damaged or stolen.
“Apart from endangering the lives of fellow innocent citizens, such unpatriotic acts take a toll on the government’s limited revenue, as it seeks to replace, rehabilitate or totally reconstruct such destroyed infrastructure”, the Minister said.
Mohammed, therefore, said “on another level is the incessant attacks on critical public facilities such as police stations and INEC offices. As a matter of fact, the destruction of public infrastructure and facilities is not just vandalism, it is a form of terrorism.
“Removal of rail tracks can cause train derailment, with deadly consequences. Tampering with aviation infrastructure endangers the lives of air passengers. Attacks on police stations have left many police personnel dead. These are all acts of terror.”
The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mohammed Bello said the effects of vandalism is profound.
“The one that is most significant in Abuja has to do with the vandalization of covers for manhole, and these manholes are supposed to cover drainages telecommunications facilities.
“Just by way of statistics, a few weeks ago, we did some checks and we realised we needed to replace immediately 400 manhole covers, 582 storm-water covers 23,210 gully pot covers, 467 water board inspecting chambers covers, 47 water hydrant covers, 756 telecommunications covers.
“And these are critical public assets that you and I own, but are being vandalized, this is just one aspect. Any of the streets where you notice blackout sometimes you may think it is public outrage, but it is not. Blackouts occur because somebody decided out the tubes,” he said.
He said there is something uniquely Nigerian that is not seen in other countries. “Why will somebody like officials saddled with the responsibility of providing security and providing needed supervision and inspection of the public asset also connive to steal,” he asserted.
On the way forward, the Minister said “the laws are there, but we have to all agree as a people that we need enforcement, and we need to strengthen the laws, also we need to understand that this is not a small crime because criminality grows gradually.
“What we are trying to do with these manhole covers is try to see how we can get N2.6 billion to have them repaired. But this N2.6 billion is going to affect our other projects which are going to affect you and me in health, education, transportation and security.”