The nation’s quest for massive development of critical public infrastructure will remain a mirage without a change of attitude by public officers, renowned lawyer and businessman, Dr. Wale Babalakin (SAN), has said.
He argued that the current practice where public officers do not respect terms of contracts and agreements, but see private investors in public infrastructure as either competitors or inferior partners, will continue to work against quest to overcome the current deficit in the provisions and maintenance of public infrastructure.
Babalakin, who is one of Nigeria’s pioneer investors in public infrastructure development, spoke in Abuja, Monday, at a session organized by the Construction and Infrastructure Law Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).
The session was part of the activities lined up by the NBA for its ongoing annual conference in Abuja.
The theme of the session was: “Ending The Scourge Of Abandoned Projects In Nigeria.”
Speaking on a sub-theme: “The role of private sector and why there is failure in private infrastructural development,” Babalakin argued that the failure of most public and private sectors partnerships (PPP) in the development of public infrastructure was not due to inadequate funding, but because of deliberate acts of sabotage by public officials.
He said it was impossible for government to fully meet the nation’s infrastructure need without the involvement of the private sector, particularly in the face of dwindling national revenue from oil sales.
He argued that achieving success in this area requires conscious effort by the government to protect private investors from the activities of “self-centered public officials.”
He noted that the current financial reality in the country requires that “we must find a way of creating wealth.”
“We cannot continue to distribute largesse. And that the parameters for wealth creation must be well protected rather than threatened,” he stated.