In a recent story, I  the Bola Tinubu administration for its decision to construct two so-called “superhighways” in the country.  One will run between Abuja and Lagos, while the other will run between Abuja and Port Harcourt.

It turns out that the administration is even more ambitious about such infrastructure.  Two weeks ago, it unveiled an even bigger one: a 700km, nine-state Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway.

In a statement, Minister of Works David Umahi disclosed that the government had approved a contract worth N1.067 trillion for the first phase of the construction.  As  in the media, that phase would be 47.47km long, with “five lanes on each side and a train track in the middle.”

What was even more impressive is that the Minister was kicking off the project as he spoke, pointing out that the contractor, Hitech Construction, had indeed begun construction and that the project will be delivered in three years.  I commend the government for the spirit it has demonstrated here.

But if this APC administration is constructing a Lagos-Calabar highway, particularly one with “a train track in the middle,” where is the Lagos-Calabar rail that its predecessor and fellow APC government, began?

Three years ago, I  of that project: a gigantic, 10-state, 22-station, 1,402km  the Goodluck Jonathan government signed with China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) in November 2014, just months before he lost the election and Muhammadu Buhari took over.

In 2016, the Buhari government announced that it had  the deal, saving $800million in the process.  He and the CCECC said they expected the project to be completed within two years, that is, by 2018.  It was not.

What was even stranger is that in August 2021, three years after the government was supposed to have taken delivery, it instead re-introduced it.  Information and Culture  that the government had “approved the memo for the ratification of the president’s approval for the award” of the $11.174 billion project, and that it would be completed in six years.  It was unclear when delivery was supposed to be, given that as he spoke, the government had less than two years left in office.

If he meant that Mr. Buhari intended to hand over to another APC government, he did, and Mr. Tinubu himself has affirmed that his is a continuation of Buhari’s.

In the same breath in which I congratulate them for their claims so far concerning the Lagos-Calabar highway, it is fair, then, to ask: where is the Lagos-Calabar rail that Buhari inherited, renegotiated, contracted, and commenced?

Given that a rail project, particularly a 1402km long, 10-state, $11.174bn line cannot be undertaken in secret, Nigerians deserve to know what became of this one because even Mr. Mohammed’s six years is nearly up, and even if Buhari is constructing it in on his farm in Daura.

Tinubu’s Lagos-Calabar highway strongly suggests that governance is serious business.  It has set three years for it to be completed, and is probably one of the reasons that Buhari recently re-endorsed him, declaring, “.”

Buhari’s assessment was in a particular context, that “Nigeria is so complex.”

I believe he meant to say, “complicated,” but we get the point.  Nigeria’s is a bewildering story, including how incredibly patient the people seem to be, no matter what their leaders to, and the volume of contempt they permit the political elite to heap on them.

Taken in its absolute form, therefore, Buhari is right.  But he was speaking about Nigeria and the quality of work that his predecessor is doing.  His full thought was: “Tinubu has done very well…Nigeria is so complex. Really, there isn’t much anybody can do.”

If the first part of Buhari’s thought is a fair opinion, the second, that “there isn’t much anybody can do,” ranges from debatable to insulting.

Consider: It is 2024, and Nigerian children are still being kidnapped from their schools the way they were 10 years ago when Buhari used it as campaign material to win the presidency only to deliver the same insecurity for eight years.  For him to affirm that “There isn’t much anybody can do” is both an excuse and an insult of those children, their parents and anyone who cast a vote for Buhari.

What is worse is that it is a coded invitation to Tinubu which says, “Don’t hesitate to fail comprehensively.  I did.”

By aligning himself to Buhari as closely as he has, this seems to be an invitation he has accepted.  Buhari’s whole-hearted applause for Tinubu is to be expected, given that Tinubu has embraced the mess that he inherited, to which he is adding his own.

But the same methods and mechanisms that aided Buhari so well in his misadventures in office will serve Tinubu no better in a period of deeper and more convoluted challenges.   The problem confronting Nigeria is the greed and insincerity of the political class, which has complicated the cynicism of the populace.

The future cannot be achieved through the arrogance and even deeper cynicism of our leadership.  If Tinubu defines leadership as serving the people, then he certainly cannot invest in the Buhari political stock market.

That is precisely why I provide the example of the Lagos-Calabar rail, perhaps the Nigerian public project of the highest profile of the last 10 years.  If we cannot trace it, it is hopeless trying to locate what happened to smaller schemes and projects that were marketed to Nigerians during the day or in front of the cameras.

Consider, for example, that in the early days of the Buhari administration, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo himself  the Murtala Muhammad International Airport in Lagos in what was described as an effort to improve the place.

Six years later, when he left office, the facilities and processes he inspected were in far worse conditions than when he visited, but there is no related publicity because the really powerful people use the presidential lounge, not the public terminal.   That is the nature of the Nigerian administrative system.

And for those who want a glimpse of the future, the recent , Nigeria’s Aviation Minister, is instructive.  In any other country, he would have been fired upon his return.

Keyamo is a measure of how much we have fallen, as most leaders of various arms of the government, lacking character, fight not for the people, but to amass for themselves.  This is why anyone can insert anything in the federal budget, and why the government really does not care if everyone in your child’s school is abducted and never seen again.

So where did our Lagos-Calabar rail go?  Does anyone know?  Did it become someone’s “constituency allowance”?  Will it be delivered ahead, or in place of the Lagos-Calabar highway?

This, too, is governance?  What happened to us?