Lagos-Calabar Rail Line: Buhari May Return 2016 Budget To NASS Next Week | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Lagos-Calabar Rail Line: Buhari May Return 2016 Budget To NASS Next Week

Posted: Apr 16, 2016 at 3:09 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Innocent Oweh
There are indications that President Muhammadu Buhari may return the 2016 budget details to the National Assembly over the exclusion of the Lagos-Calabar rail line project, as soon as he arrives Nigeria from his state visit to China.
Buhari is expected back in the country today but it is not clear whether all the ministers which the budget details were shared to at an emergency Federal Executive Council summoned before the President embarked on his state visit, have made their observations and submitted same to the Presidency.
The Presidency is also not pleased with the reduction of the N17 billion recurrent expenditure in the N6.08 trillion budget submitted by the Federal Government.
However, Dr. Sampson Parker, former Commissioner for Health in Rivers State, has urged the National Assembly to revisit the issue of Lagos-Calabar rail line project and include it in the 2016 budget in the interest of Nigerians.
Parker in a statement issued in Abuja on Friday, said that the executive and legislative arms of government agreed that there was a plan for a rail line that would run from Lagos to Calabar regardless of the argument of whether it was included in the budget or cancelled.
He said, “Whatever the argument as to whether it was included in the budget or not, the executive and legislative arms of government agree that there is a plan for a rail line that will run from Lagos to Calabar. This project is supposed to be financed with a loan from the Chinese government. Nigeria’s role is to provide counterpart funding. The National Assembly should immediately reinstate it in the budget.
“I believe this project is a worthwhile venture with enormous potentials for the nation’s economy. Rail line construction is one of the fastest means of opening up an area and developing the local economy. It is also a catalyst for social development.”
“The Lagos-Calabar rail project would provide the much-needed employment to our restive youths in the South south. This engagement in gainful employment for our youths would also be a boost to the security of the region and by implication enhance the earning potentials of the Nigerian government at this time, “he said
He maintained that the imperative of the Lagos-Calabar rail line was justice noting that the South South geo-political zone creates the wealth which all other parts of Nigeria were developed with.”
The South South zone, he lamented, had been marginalised in the citing of Federal Government projects.
His words:”For the avoidance of doubt let me state categorically that we are not opposed to building a rail line from Lagos to Kano. It is a worthwhile venture and we encourage the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to include it as one of his projects.
“What would be unfair is for the government to jettison the much needed Lagos-Calabar rail project in favour of the Lagos-Kano project because of some administrative infraction or a contest of egos.
“Once again we call on our leaders to know that for lasting peace and national growth, justice and fairness should guide their actions. The Lagos-Calabar rail line not only develops the economy of our country but would make for a more equitable society based on justice.”
Meanwhile, President Buhari in assessing his trip to China, said he was optimistic that more investment portfolios had been attracted to Nigeria to the tune of $6 billion USD.
He believed that the several agreements concluded with the Chinese government during the visit would have a huge and positive impact on key sectors of the Nigerian economy including power, solid minerals, agriculture, housing and rail transportation.
A statement by Shehu Garba, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, said that in the power sector, North South Power Company Limited and Sinohydro Corporation Limited signed an agreement valued at $478,657,941.28 for the construction of 300 Mega Watts solar power in Shiriro, Niger State.
Others were in the solid minerals sector, where Granite and Marble Nigeria Limited and Shanghai Shibang signed a joint agreement valued at $55 million for the construction and equipping of granite mining plant in Nigeria.
The President said: “A total of $1 billion USD is to be invested in the development of a Greenfield expressway for Abuja-Ibadan-Lagos under an agreement reached by the Infrastructure Bank and Sinohydro Corporation Limited.
“For the housing sector, both companies also sealed a $250 million deal to develop an ultra modern 27-storey high rise complex and a $2.5 billion agreement for the development of the Lagos Metro Rail Transit Red Line project.
“Other agreements announced and signed during the visit include a $1 billion for the establishment of a Hi-tech industrial park in Ogun-Guangdong Free Trade Zone in Igbesa, Ogun State.
“Furthermore, the Ogun-Guangdong Free Trade Zone and CNG (Nigeria) Investment Limited also signed an agreement valued at $200 million for the construction of two 500MT/day float gas facilities”.
The President also signed an agreement valued at $363 million for the establishment of a comprehensive farm and downstream industrial park in Kogi State was also announced at the Nigeria-China business forum.
“Other agreements undergoing negotiations include a $500 million project for the provision of television broadcast equipment and a $25 million facility for production of pre-paid smart meters between Mojec International Limited and Microstar Company Limited.
“About 100 Nigerian businesses and 300 Chinese firms participated in the Nigeria-China business forum which took place a day after President Buhari began his visit to China,” FG added.
Similarly, Buhari said his administration would take urgent steps to restructure Nigeria’s economy by encouraging new investments in mining, agriculture and manufacturing.
At a reception in his honour by the Communist Party of China on Friday, President Buhari said that Nigeria would welcome the support of foreign investors and local businesses for efforts to diversify the nation’s economy.
He said the diversification of the Nigerian economy was long overdue as continued reliance on crude oil exports had always made the economy vulnerable to shocks.
“This time we will be more deliberate. The government and businesses will be involved,” President Buhari said.