A country’s critical assets or infrastructure are those facilities and services that are so vital such that their incapacity or vandalisation would have serious implications on public service delivery, national security, the economy, public health or safety or a combination of them.
These are assets that belong to the people and have been put in place for the safety, welfare and convenience of the people. They are the nation’s commonwealth.
In Nigeria, they include:
- The Security Services, including the armed forces and the police
- Electricity generation, transmission and distribution,
- Oil and Gas production,
- Transportation and Distribution,
- Water supply,
- Public Health,
- Mass Transit systems
- Financial services,
- Human resources
- Iconic structures/Heritage sites
For instance, Security Agencies will include the Military, Civil Defence and intelligence agencies:
- Nigerian Army
- Nigerian Navy
- Nigerian Air Force
- Nigeria Police Force
- Directorate of State Security
- Directorate of Military Intelligence
- National Intelligence Agency
- National Security and Civil Defence Corps
Critical assets in the Power sector include power generating stations and related installations like:
- Afam Power Plant,
- Egbin Power Plant,
- Jebba Hydro Electric Power Plant
- Kainji Dam,
- Mambilla Power,
- Shiroro Dam,
- Power Distribution facilities
In the Oil and Gas sector the major assets include:
- Port Harcourt Refinery 1 and 2 at Alesa Eleme
- Warri Refinery
- Kaduna Refinery
- NLNG Plant
- Joint Venture Assets in the Oil and Gas industry, etc
In the Transportation and Distribution sector, these would include:
- Roads, highways and bridges
- Sea ports
- Supervisory and regulatory agencies, etc
In the Media/Telecommunications sector, there are facilities like:
- National and Regional Radio and Television stations
- Satellite Earth Stations
- National Communications Commission
- National Broadcasting Commission
- News Agency of Nigeria (NAN),
Major Assets under the Public Health sector include, among others:
- The National Hospital, Abuja
- Federal University Teaching Hospitals
- Federal Medical Centres
- Research/Specialised Health Institutions
- National Agency for Food, drug Administration and
For Structure and Sites, these include:
- The Presidential Villa, Abuja
- Dodan Barracks, Lagos
- The National Assembly Complex, Abuja
- The Supreme Court Complex, Abuja
- MKO Abiola (National) Stadium, Abuja
- National Secretariats in Abuja, Lagos and state capitals
- National Stadium, Lagos
- The National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos
- The Eagle Square, Abuja
- Unity Fountain, Abuja
- National Museums and Monuments
- National Parks/Reserves
Although the country spends huge amounts of money to put these assets in place, maintenance has often been a major challenge, a situation which leaves most of the assets in a deplorable state. Corruption, sabotage and outright vandalism have become a disturbing trend and are raising serious concerns in certain quarters. Various governments over the years have been particularly disturbed by the activities of unpatriotic elements that either misappropriate resources or vandalise the country’s critical assets for selfish reasons, thereby leaving those assets in sub-optimal levels.
Security and policy measures put in place to protect these assets seem not be adequate and government have continuously been exploring ways of curbing the trend. The Buhari administration the last quarter of 2019 sent a bill to the 9th National Assembly seeking a law that would protect national assets, including Telecoms Infrastructure, with a particular request to ensure that it is protected and identified as an “important national asset”.
Apart from the Transportation infrastructure, including roads and bridges, railways, airports and sea ports, the Telecoms, Power and Oil and Gas sectors suffer terribly in the hands of fraudulent characters, vandals, saboteurs, construction workers, oil thieves, smugglers and bad debtors.
The Jonathan administration, for two days in September 2013 in Abuja, hosted a two-day Stakeholders Forum on the Protection of Critical National Assets and Infrastructure. The forum deliberated on how all the relevant stakeholders could partner together to salvage national assets from further plundering by unpatriotic citizens and their collaborators.
The then National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd), stated that the forum was particularly packaged to come up with deliberate strategies that would adequately protect the nation’s critical assets and infrastructure. The Buhari administration also hosted an inter-sectoral forum between the NNPC and the Directorate of State Services (DSS) to see how the scourge in the oil and gas sector could be arrested.
At the forum on September 5, 2019, the NNPC Group Managing Director, Mr Mele Kyari, lamented the impact of these indulgences on revenue generation of the country. He expressed concern that dwindling revenues affect government’s ability to realise its objectives. He identified the challenges to include the loss of revenue from product stealing, deliberate damage to product pipelines, cross border smuggling of petroleum products and long indebtedness to the Corporation by persons and corporate bodies that have reneged on business agreements relating to product allocation.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Pantami, also harbours the same concern about the telecommunications sector. He pointed out recently that considering the increasing contribution of ICT to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), it was only normal that every country values its most important and critical sectors. Identifying ICT as one of the most critical sectors in Nigeria, he said government recognises the situation and challenges that the players in the sector are facing and talked about President Buhari’s desire for the situation be handled with all the seriousness it deserves.
The major challenge however remains that Nigerians are yet to see these assets as their commonwealth. They see them as government property and so expect government to use its authority and resources to address all the challenges bedevilling the assets. Although the government set up
these assets and services, their improper functioning affects everyone, not “government”, alone. If the people were to take ownership of these assets as their own commonwealth, they would rise up and protect them from any form of infraction, and ensure they are in great working condition. It therefore follows that the impunity exhibited by saboteurs would be curtailed.