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Claim that ECOWAS’ Lagos-Abidjan highway cost N167 billion is false

Claim: A Twitter user claims that the cost for the ECOWAS 1,000 km Lagos-Abidjan highway is N167 billion.

The claim that the cost for the ECOWAS  1,000 km Lagos-Abidjan highway is N167 billion is false. Findings show the highway was totaled to cost $2 billion which is N831 billion.

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The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was established  on May 28, 1975, via the treaty of Lagos. The 15-member regional group  has a mandate to promote economic integration in all fields of activity of the constituting countries.

It is courtesy of these goals that the ECOWAS set out  to begin an action plan on the construction of the 1,028kilometers Lagos-Abidjan road. The road will connect Lagos, Cotonou, Lome, Accra, and Abidjan. 

The road project is now a point of a Twitter controversy. One user,  Damzy (@Segun_Odunayo)claims that ECOWAS is constructing  the  1,000 km Lagos/Abidjan road for N167 billion.

The claim made by a Twitter user

The tweet was received with mixed signals; while  some users argued that the information was incorrect,  others simply consented to the statement. 

“Is there a standard template for determining the costs of these roads? Though  it could be more expensive when you compare it with that Lagos-Abidjan road. Perhaps there are complexities that make it so expensive. Just giving the benefit of doubt,” Babatope Falade (@FaladeBabatope) questioned. 

The claimant brought into his narrative the  N9.9 billion 35km Oyo-Iseyin road, suggesting that the cost is outrageous compared to ECOWAS’ N167 billion road project.

No doubt,  the cost of infrastructural projects has always been a point of controversy. In recent years, both public office holders and citizens have made claims around topics that have turned out to be misleading, thus putting public trust in doubt and arousing more questions than usual. 

Verifying the claim

When Dubawa conducted a search on the actual amount of money that was set aside for the ECOWAS Lagos-Abidjan 1, 000km highway, the results show multiple credible media outlets had reported that the highway was set to cost $2billion. 

A report by Road Traffic Technology stated that ‘the highway is expected to cost around $2bn. It will connect Cote d’Ivoire’s commercial capital, Abidjan, to Lagos in Nigeria.’  

The same report was also published in the Nation Newspaper, with the headline: “Lagos-Abidjan highway to cost $2bn.” 

A screenshot of the report on the Nation’s newspaper

Also, there is a detailed report on ECOWAS website that provides all the necessary information regarding the Lagos-Abidjan highway, including the partners in the project. 

A screenshot of a report by ECOWAS detailing the cost information and partnerships of the 1000km Lagos-Abidjan highway

More clarity from the claimant

To establish a base for the claim, DUBAWA reached out to the claimant, Segun Odunayo, via a phone call. 

Mr Odunayo explained he had received the  intel from a source he considers credible but cannot declare openly.  He added that the N167 billion he mentioned was an additional fund ECOWAS was seeking to complete the project. 

“A lot of people who saw the tweet misunderstood me,” he said. “The information I tweeted was the intel I got from my source, and I trust his findings.”

Mr Odunayo however failed to give this clarification in his tweet. But did ECOWAS ever seek for more funds aside the $2 billion? 

More findings

DUBAWA uncovered that The Cable has once published a news report on how the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was seeking additional funds for constructing the $2 billion Lagos-Abidjan highway project.

The lead in the  report details that “the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is seeking additional funds for constructing the $2 billion Lagos-Abidjan highway project.” It further explains how ECOWAS and the African Development Bank (AfDB) signed a $22.7 million (N9,152 billion)  loan agreement as an additional funding to “make up” for $2billion for the project (not more funds aside the $2billion). 

This $22.7 billion dollar contract between the AfDB and ECOWAS was only  a fraction of the $2billion not an addition to it. ECOWAS had a funding gap and needed additional funds to make up for $2billion. Thus, the extra funds needed by ECOWAS was not an additional to the total sum of $2billion but a make up of it. 

DUBAWA  also reached out to ECOWAS for further comments about the actual amount of the highway project and if it has sought more funds  amounting to N167 billion aside the initial $2billion. All attempts via phone calls and emails were not replied  as at the time this copy was published. 

Notably, the naira-dollar exchange rates for April 2013, (the official year and month that the Lagos-Abidjan  was launched by ECOWAS) indicated that the $2 billion was still equivalent to N312 billion not N167 billion.

Conclusion 

DUBAWA’S findings contradicts the claimant’s assertion; the total funds  for the highway was costed at $2billion (N831 billion) not $167 billion. Even in 2013, when the project was first announced, the N312 billion was the naira equivalent of $2billion not 167 billion. Hence, this claim is false. 

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