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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

The AfDB and the highway to Bamenda

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I have sat on this opinion for a fortnight. A lot had been competing for my attention while the draft sat on my smart phone. Here we go.

“$430m Enugu-Cameroon Highway to be completed before 2021 end – AfDB” – News Express Nigeria

What a story! This is most wonderful.

It is only in Nigeria that a multimillion dollar regional highway development project would suddenly spring to completion impelled by external forces, World Bank, AfDB, ECOWAS and AU, while both the host communities and the host government are completely in the dark.

Or is this a case of the current administration reluctantly going along with the regional development agencies and bank while its unmistakable body language reeks of objection that it dares not openly express to the government of Cameroon?

For the President of the AfDB to openly claim that this Enugu to Bamenda highway, through Mamfe, part of the East to West Trans-Africa Highway System, would be ready in six short months, it means that this project had all along been on the front burner at the Abidjan headquarters.

Why on earth has the current Federal Government administration been so tight lipped and opaque about this? How come a Buhari administration enamoured of praise and credit for all manners of routine development projects suddenly does NOT want any more accolades? This is most bizarre.

An all-season highway into the restive Southern Cameroon doesn’t seem to square with Buhari’s personal game plan for the former Eastern Region, a.k.a. Biafraland. Why doesn’t the Federal Government come out openly to oppose this road project and then deal with the aftermath as Dr Akinwunmi Adesina reports back to the regional and global partners?

Heaven will not fall. That particular stretch of road has been overdue for a modern upgrade over twenty years ago. Buhari was not in power then. The initial reluctance could not have been traceable to him.

There has to have been something structural and systemic, flowing down from Sokoto and Kaduna power centres, to deny infrastructure be it roads, railways, power, international airports etc to the former Eastern Region of Nigeria. Unfortunately the development man in Dr Adesina cannot descend to such a game plan.

If the North and Buhari have an objection as they surely do, it will be extremely impolitic to say it loud or to put it in writing. China, which is perennially interested in opening up the African interior for ease of exploitation of natural resources cannot reasonably be expected to go along with such a posture, while the Oban Forest and Nature Reserve beckons.

This writer had lamented the Federal Government’s neglect of this segment of the TransAfrica highway in an opinion piece widely(?) published a couple of years ago. We probably have Dr Adesina and the AfDB to thank for this renewed enthusiasm which Buhari most probably doesn’t share.

Due to a certain alignment of the stars, it would appear that I am about to be proved wrong.

What a relief!

[I suspect that I exhaled too soon. See where we are in July 2023. Of course this is NOT about Tinubu]

By Oduche Azih

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