Rotimi Amaechi, minister of transportation, says Nigerians have run out of patience with the current administration because “their pocket is getting dried”.
He said most people were more interested in having resources in their “pockets” than the structural changes that the federal government planned to put in place.
The minister, who said there was no money to run the government, said the All Progressives Congress (APC) government underestimated the challenges ahead of it.
He also appealed to Nigerians to exercise patience, assuring them that they would have the course to rejoice.
He was speaking in Abuja on Tuesday at a forum organised by NAN.
“We encountered challenges; were we expecting to encounter those challenges? Yes; did we think that we will meet the quantum or volume of those challenges?” he asked.
“We didn’t anticipate that things were this bad. We thought you go to government and there would be money for you to run government and others.
“Now you have the situation where there is no money to run government. I hate to use the word difficult; I hate to use the word impossible but we met things close to difficult and impossibility.
“That is why Nigerians are impatient; they want to see results and for them, change is not about change in structure, it is about change in their pocket.
“Because their pocket is getting dried and they wanted us to put some more resources in their pocket.
“What I usually say to people is that we beg you to give us time; we will achieve our objective if you give us time and we will both thank God for that opportunity.”
Amaechi also said his ministry will in a few years formulate policies that will ensure proper regulation of land transportation.
He said the federal government needs over $50.9 billion in the next five years to develop transportation infrastructure.
“We need over 50.9 billion dollars in the next five years to develop infrastructure and 50 billion dollars is not a joke,” he said.
“One of the infrastructure we are trying to develop is the railway infrastructure; the president has kindly agreed that he will fund it because the contract was awarded by Obasanjo, the former president; he awarded the contract for Lagos to Kano.
“President Jonathan awarded the contract for Lagos to Calabar, what the president has agreed to do is to fund it; he said can we fund the ones we have already awarded; no more awards until we have developed the ones we have awarded.
“So we are focusing on the Lagos to Kano railway and the Lagos to Calabar rail line.
“If you look at the communities surrounding this rail line; Lagos to Kano will start from Lagos to Ibadan; it will impact on so many sectors of the economy including housing; people who ordinarily will not be able to pay for house rent in Lagos can live in Ibadan, can live in Ogun and come to work in Lagos.”
He blamed the cause of road mishaps more on poor infrastructure rather than the quality of mass transit buses being used.
Responding to a question on the payment for the use of trolleys at the airports, Amaechi said the situation was not peculiar to Nigeria.
“There are so many airports you go to and you have to pay for the use of trolleys,” he said.
“In Washington DC for instance, you have to put your dollar in and pick your stuff; it is not a Nigerian thing alone.
“An airport runs itself. If it’s viable, somebody will come and say he wants to supply trolleys because he knows that he will make money from it.
“I am not saying they are not right, but I am saying it’s a thing that is very rare. There are areas you go, you get free trolleys and there are areas you go and you pay and Nigeria is one of those areas where you pay for their use because an airport should run itself.”