- $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.
Zabarmari Massacre: Buhari to Provide More Resources for the Nigerian Military
President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to provide more resources to the military in the aftermath of the Zabarmari massacre.
On Saturday, Boko Haram killed 43 people with around 70 people still missing in Zabarmari, a village in Borno State.
Reacting to the massacre, Buhari, through his official Twitter handle @MBuhari said “Nothing is more important than ensuring the security of lives and property of Nigerians. Everything is secondary when security is at stake. I will ensure that more resources are made available to the military and other security agencies to prosecute the war against terrorism.
“As we mourn all the lives lost in Zabarmari, the Armed Forces have been given the marching order to take the fight to the insurgents, not on a one-off, but on a continuous basis, until we root out the terrorists.
“We will intensify our cooperation with neighbouring countries on bilateral and multilateral levels, to ensure that there is no hiding place for the terrorists.
“As I noted earlier, the massacre by Boko Haram in Zabarmari is nothing short of senseless, barbaric, gruesome and cowardly. It reinforces our resolve to root out all forms of insurgency and insecurity not just in Borno but everywhere across Nigeria.”
Boko Haram Kills Rice Farmers in Borno State, Northeast Nigeria
Rice farmers were killed on Saturday morning in the Northeast Nigeria by suspected Islamist militants, Boko Haram, according to a Reuters Report.
The report also noted that 30 of the people killed were beheaded while over a dozen others were still missing.
However, resident of the Zambarmari Village where the attacks took place said a total of 70 people were feared dead.
Another resident and Amnesty International were quoted as saying at least 10 women were among those missing.
In another statement by Edward Kallon, the United Nations’ humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, it was armed men on motorcycles that led the brutal attack on civilians harvesting their fields.
“Armed men on motorcycles led a brutal attack on civilian men and women who were harvesting their fields,” Edward Kallon stated.
“At least 110 civilians were ruthlessly killed and many others were wounded in this attack,” he added, noting that several women are believed to have been kidnapped.
“The incident is the most violent direct attack against innocent civilians this year. I call for the perpetrators of this heinous and senseless act to be brought to justice,” Kallon said.
On Sunday, Governor Babaganan Umara Zulum of Borno State, who was at the burial told journalists that at least 70 farmers were killed on Saturday.
The Governor, therefore, called on the Federal Government to recruit more Civilian Joint Task Force members, Soldiers and civil defence fighters to protect farmers in the region.
He added that people are facing desperate choices.
“In one side, they stay at home they may be killed by hunger and starvation, on the other, they go out to their farmlands and risk getting killed by the insurgents,” he said.
In The Fight Against Corruption, No Individual is Bigger Than The State – Buhari
In response to the suspended acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, President Muhammed Buhari, lamented that the anti-corruption war becomes endangered “when persons entrusted with the responsibility of that magnitude become suspects themselves.”
Buhari, whose vision is to put an end to corruption in Nigeria, believed that every aspect of the nation’s life is enshrined in corruption and it’s of major concern when leaders of institutions saddled with the mandate to fight the menace are found in the waves of the corruption they claimed to be fighting.
This act is a great abomination not only because it strikes at the root but it also trivialises and undermines the anti-corruption crusade itself, the President explained.
He further said that in a bid to put an end to this great abomination, he had set up Ayo Salami Panel to unravel the mystery behind the mystique of Magu’s alleged involvement in corruption that his administration is fighting.
Buhari said that his administration is ready and willing to go all out in the fight against corruption, and no one is too big nor above the law to become a victim of anti-graft’s sledgehammer.
The president said, “However, the stark reality of widespread corruption becomes poignant when allegations of corruption touch on the leadership of an institution set up by law to coordinate and enforce all economic and financial crimes.
“It is an abomination that strikes at the root and undermines the government’s anti-corruption programme.
“It was in response to the serious allegations against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that I set up a panel headed by the Honourable Justice Isa Ayo Salami, retired President of the Court of Appeal, via an Instrument dated 3rd July 2020 pursuant to the Tribunals of Inquiry Act (Cap T21, LFN, 2004).
“We recognise that there are more grounds to cover in the war against corruption, and we are prepared to go out to possess those lands by cutting off any stream that nourishes the seed of corruption and supports its growth.
“Let it be known that in the fight against corruption, no one is too big to tackle, as no individual is bigger than the Nigerian State!”
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