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FG’s N362bn Sukuk Fund Boosting Infrastructure Drive – Dantata

Engineer Nasiru Dantata is the President of the Federation of Construction Industry (FOCI) and Executive Director at Dantata & Sawoe Construction Company Nigeria Limited.

AUGUST 10, 2020 AT 1:13:16 AM

SIMON ECHEWOFUN SUNDAY

Engineer Nasiru Dantata is the President of the Federation of Construction Industry (FOCI) and Executive Director at Dantata & Sawoe Construction Company Nigeria Limited. In this interview, he reveals his achievements since emerging President of FOCI in 2017 and speaks on how Sukuk fund is boosting government’s infrastructure drive.

What are your achievements so far?

My achievements have been a collective one as far as the construction industry is concerned. We have good relationship with the communities where we work across Nigeria, as well as our clients; the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing being our largest client. We have a very good understanding of the situation of the economy.

The current administration has done well to improve the budget that is allocated, and most of the cash releases through many innovative means, including the Sukuk funding arrangement, whereby we’re now in the third tranche.

We had previously done Sukuk 1, which was about N100 billion; Sukuk 2 of another N100bn; then Sukuk 3, which was just activated. The ministry has raised about N162bn, the intention was to raise N150bn, but offers surpassed N700bn, but government was only able to accept N162bn.

Also, the budget has been improved through the national budget. The National Assembly is also cooperating, the 2020 budget has its own challenges, but key projects have been left with substantial amounts for Nigerians to see a lot of progress.

If you move around the country, there are works going on in each geo-political zone. In fact, we were the first to be asked to resume work during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, because our industry is not like we’re into gathering so many people at once.

So many of the projects have been pushed, and with Sukuk between now and the end of the year, we are going to re-employ many of the workers that we asked to stay at home. We reduced salaries without disengaging workers. Those now being asked to resume are being paid their full salaries.

So, the last three years has seen significant growth; some of the projects are being done in phases, kilometres or tranches.

Have they completed any of such projects?

Definitely! If you look at the Abuja-Abaji, Kano-Abuja roads, some sections are being put to use. Also, the Kano-Maiduguri, Lagos-Ibadan and many others are being opened in phases instead of waiting to complete whole or opening everywhere and not being able to finish them.

Of course we have challenges; like the exchange rate, for us to maintain our equipment, to buy new machines; as many are not produced in Nigeria. So we have to buy at higher exchange rates; which is not covered in contracts.

Other commodities like cement and aggregates; the prices have been stable, so we must commend government. Had it been we’re still importing cement, the price would have doubled.

We must also commend the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN). Many companies are producing locally so as to reduce prices.

 Has Sukuk made any significant impact?

Oh yes! Like I said, it is always oversubscribed; meaning Nigerians are willing because they know it is going to the right place, and many of the Sukuk jobs are being executed by FOCI members. I am proud to say this government has pulled off the curtain; they have switched on the light for us to see that all we need in the construction industry is constant funding, and that is what the Sukuk guarantees. So I hope the National Assembly would see how they can take us out of this annual budget circle mayhem.

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