The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed says the destruction of public infrastructure and facilities is not just vandalism, but a form of terrorism.
The minister said this on Monday in Abuja at a special Town Hall Meeting on the Protection of Public Infrastructure.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that ministers of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Mohammed Bello, Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola and Aviation, Hadi Sirika were co-panelists at the event.
Justifying his position, Mr Mohammed said the removal of rail tracks could cause train derailment with deadly consequences.
He said tampering with aviation infrastructure endangered the lives of air passengers while attacks on police stations had left many police personnel dead.
“On another level are the incessant attacks on critical public facilities such as police stations and INEC offices.
“Railway tracks are being subjected to wanton destruction, bridge railings are being removed, manhole covers are being pilfered, street lights and other power infrastructure, oil pipelines, telecoms facilities and critical aviation infrastructure are being damaged or stolen.
“Apart from endangering the lives of fellow innocent citizens, such unpatriotic acts take a toll on the government’s limited revenue, as it seeks to replace, rehabilitate or totally reconstruct such destroyed infrastructure,’’ he said.
The minister said the town hall meeting was imperative because it touched on an issue at the core of economic growth and national development.
He said when public infrastructure was being targeted for destruction by some unpatriotic Nigerians, it called for great concern and immediate action.
The minister said the country had long suffered massive infrastructure deficit due to decades of neglect, population explosion and the absence of maintenance culture.
He, however, said since the coming into office in 2015, the Muhammadu Buhari administration had embarked on a rapid economic growth with equity.
He said the administration had invested heavily in providing new infrastructure, reconstructing and rehabilitating existing ones, in spite a drastic drop in revenues and competing priorities.
“However, in recent times, such laudable efforts of the government are being thwarted by some unpatriotic citizens through wanton destruction of critical infrastructure.
“This is why we have decided to organise a series of town hall meetings to address this incessant and worsening destruction of public infrastructure and facilities,’’ he said
Mohammed said the town hall meeting would help to create in the public mind that government assets were citizens’ property and must be protected for the benefit of all.
He underscored the need to sensitise communities, especially where the infrastructure was located to be conscious of the need to protect them
He also stressed the need to expose, arrest and prosecute all those who engage in buying pilfered infrastructure items along with those who bring such to them to sell.