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$5.9bn Rail: S’East Alleges Exclusion, Senate Summons Amaechi

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  • $5.9bn Rail: S’East Alleges Exclusion, Senate Summons Amaechi

Leader of the South-East caucus in the Senate, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, has protested against the alleged exclusion of the eastern rail line from the ongoing rail projects by the Federal Government.

Abaribe, in his motion at the plenary on Tuesday, alleged that the South-East would not benefit from the projects for which the government was obtaining a loan of $5.851bn from China Exim Bank.

The motion was titled, ‘Outright Omission of Eastern Corridor Rail Line in the Request for Approval of Federal Government 2016-2017 External Borrowing (Rolling Plan)’.

The lawmaker, who is representing the Abia-South senatorial district, recalled that the Federal Government, on April 26, 2017, laid a request seeking an approval for the loan before the National Assembly to execute the modernisation of Lagos-Kano, Kano-Kaduna, Lagos-Ibadan and Lagos-Calabar rail segments.

Abaribe, however, said, “The Senate observes with dismay that the above sections of the rail line that the loan was being sought for covers only a section of the country i.e. the western corridor.

“The Senate notes that the eastern section of the rail segment, which has a link between the southeastern to northeastern parts of the rail line, is completely excluded from the request.

“The Senate further notes that the loan, being a Federal Government borrowing, would be repaid by all sections of the country; therefore, every section of the country should be taken into consideration.”

The lawmaker, in the prayers of the motion, urged the Senate to suspend consideration of the loan request until the correction of the omission of the eastern parts of the country.

He also called on the Senate to ‘invite the Minister of Transport to appear and explain the reasons for the exclusion of the eastern corridor of Nigeria’s rail lines from the proposed loan from China Exim Bank’.

Abaribe, however, withdrew the first prayer, while the second prayer was unanimously granted by the lawmakers.

Seconding the motion, the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, said the Senate belonged to all parts of the country and ‘the implication, therefore, is that any wrong done to any part of this country is a wrong to all of us’.

He said, “I am aware that the Federal Government is committed to rehabilitating and upgrading the railway infrastructure in Nigeria since (the days of President Olusegun) Obasanjo’s administration. Regrettably, from the inspection of that programme, the Federal Government has an attitude about the eastern line of this country – that the line is not profitable – and emphasis has not been placed in fixing that axis.”

But Senator Gbenga Ashafa (Lagos-East) faulted the motion as lacking adequate information.

He said, “I will say it is inadequate and I will also add that it is inaccurate in the sense that when the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government came in, the idea of providing rail infrastructure as approved initially – from Lagos to Calabar and Lagos to Kano – took into cognisance Aba and Onitsha.

“The Lagos-Kano and Calabar-Lagos railway project covers all the geopolitical zones, and I will show you how. On the Lagos-Calabar coastal space, you will find the rail cutting across the Obudu Cattle Ranch, Calabar, Uyo, Aba, Port Harcourt, Yenagoa, Otuoke, Ughelli, Sapele, Benin, Agbor, Asaba and Onitsha. Connecting Benin is Ijebu Ode, Ore, Shagamu and Lagos seaports. Until it is finished, you can deduce from this that two major states in the South-East where Senator Abaribe comes from have been covered. Until this is finished, you can’t see it on the ground.

“When we are making our points, don’t let us bring up ethnic sentiments.”

Meanwhile, a delegation of the Federal Government led by the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, met with the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts after the plenary.

Also on the entourage was the Director-General, Budget Office, Mr Ben Akabueze; and the Director-General, Debt Management Office, Dr Abraham Nwankwo.

Adeosun told the committee that the execution of railway project was the responsibility of the Federal Ministry of Transportation. She urged the panel to seek clarifications from the ministry.

“Concerning the execution of railway projects, it lies with the Ministry of Transportation. Ours is to facilitate the loan,” she stated.

The minister added that plans on the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail line had been concluded and work would soon start on the project.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Government

Lawmakers Tensed Over Possible Boko Haram Attack On National Assembly

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Lawmakers have been notified of a possible attack by Boko Haram insurgents on the National Assembly complex and other public buildings in Abuja, The media gathered.

Several members of the House of Representatives, on Wednesday, confirmed to Punch correspondent that they had been notified of the imminent attack by the terrorist group.

One of them, who is from a state in the South-West, said his presence would henceforth be limited on the premises.

“That is the security alert I saw today. I’m already moving out of here. I’ll only be around when there is a major reason to do so. Nowhere is safe in the country anymore,” he said.

Already the notice of the impending attack has been made available to the lawmakers.

The notice, a copy of which our correspondent obtained, was sent to the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, other principal officers and all members of the House.

The ‘security alert’, dated May 4, 2021, was issued by the Chairman of the House Committee on Internal Security, National Assembly, Mr. Usman Shiddi.

It was titled ‘Re: planned insurgent attacks on VIP locations, government facilities and assets in Abuja.’

The alert read, “I refer to the above subject of which a copy of the intelligence report from the Force Intelligence Bureau of the Nigeria Police Force in the National Assembly Complex has been made available to my office.

“The report indicates planned insurgent attacks by some elements of Boko Haram on some VIP locations, government facilities and assets in Abuja, including the National Assembly complex.

“In view of the above intelligence, I have considered it paramount to advise that all members should, henceforth, use the presidential gate for ingress and egress.

“This is to avoid the unforeseen congestions that are sometimes encountered at the main gates since such congestions could easily be the targets for these insurgent elements.

“Security agencies are, however, actively on top of the issue to unravel and to contain the intended menace. Accept the assurances of my highest regards, please.”

Security has been beefed up in and around the complex since Thursday last week.

For the first time, security operatives on that day checked vehicles entering the premises, causing traffic congestion especially at the third (and last) gate, a process that has continued to date.

Before now, the security operatives were only after the identities of drivers and passengers to confirm that they were staff members, legislative aides, journalists, or persons working in private businesses in the complex.

The media correspondent observed that soldiers joined the regular sergeants-at-arms and men of the Nigeria Police Force, Department of State Services, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps and the Federal Road Safety Corps that manned the gates.

Recall that the Governor of Niger State, Sani Bello, had on April 26, 2021, raised the alarm over Boko Haram terrorists taking over a part of the state, hoisting their flag in Kaure village from where they had made incursions into more than 50 villages.

Bello said Abuja was not safe, with Boko Haram’s presence in Kaure – a two-hour journey from the Federal Capital Territory.

He said, “I am confirming that there are Boko Haram elements here in Niger State. Here in Kaure, I am confirming that they have hoisted their flags here.”

The same day, Gbajabiamila had met with the President, Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, in company with the Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa.

On the next day, the House held a long executive (closed-door) session to discuss the rising spate of insecurity across Nigeria, calling on Buhari to declare a state of emergency on security.

At the secret session that lasted over three hours, the lawmakers unanimously adopted a series of resolutions, one of which was that “the Federal Government should ensure the protection of national infrastructure and assets, particularly the Shiroro and Kainji Dams in Niger State.”

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Lagos State Plans To Launch 500 Small New Buses Next Week

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The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has promised to introduce 500 small new buses to the state by next week Thursday in a bid to provide alternatives to local motorcycles.

The Governor said this in a speech on Wednesday to mark the opening ceremony of the Lagos Architect Forum. The forum themed, ‘The City of Lagos: The Next Twenty Five Years’ was organised by the Nigerian Institute of Architects, Lagos chapter, at the Expo Hall of Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island.

The 4-day forum which will run till Saturday had in attendance other dignitaries including the Oniru of Iru Land, HRM Oba Abdulwasiu Omogbolahan Lawal; the Lagos State Chairman of the NIA, Arc. David Majekodunmi; SA to the Governor on Works and Infrastructure, Engr. Aramide Adeyoye; and the President-elect of the Nigerian Institute of Architects, Arc. Enyi Ben-Eboh.

In his speech, the governor noted the progress made in the T.H.E.M.E.S agenda and his vision for the Lagos master plan to ensure that Lagos becomes ‘Africa’s model megacity’ by 2050. Acknowledging the challenges in the transport sector, the Governor gave assurances on improving the various modes of transport including the roads, waterways and rail lines.

“For the waterways, we’re currently building 16 jetties and terminals. About seven of them should be ready before the end of the year; we have some that are already currently being used.

“All of them will not look as nice as the one at Falomo, but we want all of them to be comfortable. We have a fleet of almost 20 boats now each carrying 50, 60, 40 passengers. We want people to use the waterways which is why we’re investing in them,” Sanwo-Olu said.

On road and rail transport, Sanwo-Olu said the state would soon begin to operate 100 new high-capacity buses, with plans to launch 500 LASTMA small buses by next week Wednesday or Thursday as alternatives to okadas that don’t have enough passenger space. He also promised that one of either the blue or red rail lines will become operational by next year.

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Presidency Warns Over Alleged Plot To Overthrow Buhari’s Administration Through Vote of No Confidence

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Muhammadu Buhari

The Presidency on Tuesday claimed it has evidence that reveals that certain “disruptive elements” are recruiting ethnic groups and politicians with the motive of convening conferences where a vote of no confidence will be passed on the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari.

It said the purpose of the move was to further throw the country into turmoil.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, disclosed this in a statement titled ‘Our response to DSS alert, by Presidency.’

Adesina was giving further insights into a recent claim by the Department of State Services that some people were planning to undermine the government and the nation’s sovereignty.

The presidential spokesman however said the present regime would keep the country together, even if some unruly feathers would be ruffled in the process.

He claimed that some disgruntled religious and past political leaders are behind the plans.

The statement read, “The Department of State Services on Sunday alerted on sinister moves by misguided elements to wreak havoc on the government, sovereignty and corporate existence of the country.

“Championed by some disgruntled religious and past political leaders, the intention is to eventually throw the country into a tailspin, which would compel a forceful and undemocratic change of leadership.

“Further unimpeachable evidence shows that these disruptive elements are now recruiting the leadership of some ethnic groups and politicians around the country, with the intention of convening some sort of conference, where a vote of no confidence would be passed on the President, thus throwing the land into further turmoil.

“The caterwauling, in recent times, by these elements, is to prepare the grounds adequately for their ignoble intentions, which are designed to cause further grief for the country.

“The agent provocateurs hope to achieve through artifice and sleight of hands, what they failed to do through the ballot box in the 2019 elections.

“Nigerians have opted for democratic rule, and the only acceptable way to change a democratically elected government is through elections, which hold at prescribed times in the country. Any other way is patently illegal and even treasonable. Of course, such would attract the necessary consequences.

“These discredited individuals and groups are also in cahoots with external forces to cause maximum damage in their own country. But the Presidency, already vested with mandate and authority by Nigerians till 2023, pledges to keep the country together, even if some unruly feathers would be ruffled in the process.”

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