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Leaders Kick as $1.5b Loan for Lagos-Ibadan Railway is Stuck

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  • Leaders Kick as $1.5b Loan for Lagos-Ibadan Railway is Stuck

Federal lawmakers came under fire yesterday for delaying the $1.5billion Chinese loan for the construction of the Lagos-Ibadan standard rail gauge.

The National Assembly slashed N21billion off the N31billion estimate in the 2017 budget for the rehabilitation of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

All conditions for the loan were met over six months ago. Only the lawmakers’ approval is yet to be obtained.

Last month, the presidential request for the loan’s approval was read by Senate President Bukola Saraki and referred to the Committee on Foreign Loans headed by Senator Shehu Sani. Since then, it has been kept in abeyance.

Stakeholders faulted the lawmakers, wondering why such an important rail project which connects the nation’s economic hub to other parts of the country was left unattended to.

Former Senate Minority Leader Senator Olurunnimbe Mamora said the issue deserved expedited action given the importance of the Lagos-Ibadan rail project. “Whatever the reason the lawmakers have for not according it the priority it deserves, they should have a re-think”.

According to him, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway is the busiest road in the country and there is an absolute necessity to have an alternative. “That’s why the rail project is not only desirable, but inevitable. The earlier we did it, the better. It would take off a lot of load, as far as the transportation of heavy goods is concerned. This way, it would reduce haulage on the roads.”

Mamora added: “It should be a priority thing for us to do. My appeal is to the National Assembly to have a re-think and approve the loan in the interest of the nation.

”We have many ports in Lagos and we need to use the train to evacuate goods to all parts of the country. Too much pressure on the roads is responsible for the state of disrepair of our roads nationwide. The plan of the present government is to connect all state capitals with rail.”

Lawyer and human rights activist Monday Ubani said if it was true that the National Assembly is dilly-dallying on the matter, then it amount to “the worst decision taken by the National Assembly, because 90 per cent of Nigerians will want an efficient railway system in Lagos, which would connect other parts of the country”.

The Second National Vice President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) said having an efficient railway system would reduce pressure exerted on roads by trucks.

He said: “What baffles me is that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is in the majority in the National Assembly; must the lawmakers sabotage the programme of their party? Whose interest are they representing?”

Afenifere Publicity Secretary Yinka Odumakin said the issue had been on for quite sometime, adding that it appeared there were forces bent on sabotaging the Southwest.

Odumakin said: “What they are doing cannot be an accident; they want to deny the Southwest projects that are very dear to it. I want to say doing that would be very daring and unacceptable.

“We are waiting for them and will definitely rise up against this abnormally. The Southwest has a lot to offer in terms of ensuring the advancement of the country. What they do not understand is that the project does not stand to benefit the Southwest alone, but the entire country through mutual interaction, facilitated by communication.”

Fromer Transport Minister Chief Ebenezer Babatope, said it would be a bad omen, if the National Assembly worked against the project.

He said: “The issue of railways again? When I was minister, we did everything within our powers to give the necessary support to the project. We ensured that the railways from Lagos to Calabar functioned well. Again, we have not got full rail development in Nigeria.

“Whoever offers us any assistance we should embrace it. I want to appeal to the National Assembly to reconsider its stand and support what will bring progress to the Southwest and the entire country.”

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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President Declines Nomination, Endorses Harris for 2024

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In a significant political announcement on his X.com account, President Joe Biden has decided to forgo the opportunity to seek re-election in 2024, instead throwing his full support behind Vice President Kamala Harris.

The surprise move, shared with the public this morning, represents a pivotal moment in the Democratic Party’s journey toward the upcoming presidential election.

In his statement, Biden said that his choice to step aside is driven by a desire to concentrate on his remaining duties as President.

He expressed gratitude for the opportunity to serve alongside Harris, calling her selection as his Vice President in 2020 “the best decision” he has made. “My fellow Democrats,” Biden began, “I have decided not to accept the nomination and to focus all my energies on my duties as President for the remainder of my term.”

The President’s announcement signifies a strategic shift in the 2024 election landscape. By endorsing Kamala Harris, Biden not only aims to consolidate support within the party but also to set the stage for a unified front against former President Donald Trump.

“Today I want to offer my full support and endorsement for Kamala to be the nominee of our party this year,” Biden declared. “Democrats — it’s time to come together and beat Trump. Let’s do this.”

This endorsement comes as a surprise to many, given Biden’s earlier commitment to seeking re-election.

However, it reflects a broader strategic maneuver to ensure party unity and strengthen the Democratic position in the face of a formidable opponent. By focusing on Harris, Biden aims to leverage her growing popularity and political acumen to fortify the party’s chances in the upcoming election.

Kamala Harris, who has served as Vice President since January 2021, will now be thrust into the spotlight as the presumptive Democratic nominee.

Her campaign is expected to build on the legacy of the current administration while addressing key issues facing the nation.

The move also raises the stakes for the Republicans, who will need to prepare for a robust campaign from a seasoned political leader in Harris.

As the 2024 election cycle ramps up, Biden’s endorsement is likely to reshape the dynamics of the race, influencing both Democratic strategies and Republican responses.

The coming months will be critical as Harris and her team work to solidify their platform and rally support from voters across the nation.

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Kagame Dominates Election with 99.15% of Votes Counted

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President Paul Kagame has taken a commanding lead in the Rwandan presidential election, securing 99.15% of the votes counted thus far, according to the National Electoral Commission.

The provisional results, reported by the state broadcaster Rwanda Broadcasting Agency, indicate a decisive victory for the Rwandan Patriotic Front candidate.

With 79% of the ballots tallied, Kagame’s overwhelming lead leaves his opponents trailing significantly.

Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda has garnered only 0.53% of the votes, while independent candidate Philippe Mpayimana has received 0.32%.

The voter turnout has been reported at an impressive 98%, underscoring the high level of public engagement in the electoral process.

The early results suggest a strong mandate for Kagame, who has been at the helm of Rwandan politics since 2000.

Kagame’s administration has been marked by significant economic growth and development, but it has also faced criticism for its stance on political dissent and freedom of expression.

Despite this, Kagame remains a highly popular figure in Rwanda, with many citizens crediting him for the country’s stability and progress.

The National Electoral Commission is expected to release the final results in the coming days. As the tallying continues, Kagame’s supporters have already begun celebrating his anticipated victory.

Analysts believe that Kagame’s likely re-election will provide continuity in Rwanda’s economic policies and development programs.

However, they also call for more inclusive governance and respect for political freedoms to ensure long-term stability and growth.

Kagame’s near-unanimous support in the early results reflects his entrenched position in Rwandan politics.

His ability to maintain such high levels of support will be a focal point of discussion in the aftermath of the election.

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Kenya Prepares for More Protests Over Unresolved Political Crisis

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Kenya is on the brink of another wave of anti-government protests as efforts to resolve the nation’s escalating political crisis appear to have stalled.

President William Ruto’s proposal for a national dialogue has yet to take off, leaving the nation in a state of heightened tension.

Activists have called for demonstrations across the East African nation on Tuesday, protesting the government’s failure to hold security forces accountable for the deaths of at least 41 people.

These casualties occurred during protests against Ruto’s contentious plan to raise taxes over the past month.

Despite the president’s announcement last week that national dialogue would commence on Monday to defuse the situation, progress has been elusive.

The main opposition party, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), expressed uncertainty regarding the proposed talks.

“We haven’t received any invitation,” ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna stated. “When called, we’ll go because we are keen on getting broad-based reforms.”

A spokesperson for the presidency indicated that parliamentary leaders were managing the planned talks, but National Assembly majority leader Kimani Ichung’wah did not respond to requests for comment.

Protests initially erupted in mid-June over Ruto’s plans to increase taxes on essential goods, including bread and diapers, aiming to raise over $2 billion to reduce the government’s budget shortfall.

The public outcry forced Ruto to abandon the proposal, but dissatisfaction remains high.

Last week, in a dramatic move to quell public anger, Ruto fired almost all his cabinet members, underscoring the severity of the discontent.

The scrapping of the tax measures is expected to widen the government’s budget deficit to 3.6% of GDP in the current fiscal year, up from a previous projection of 3.3%.

This financial strain has not gone unnoticed; Moody’s Ratings downgraded Kenya’s rating by a step to Caa1, plunging it deeper into junk status, highlighting the country’s deteriorating fiscal condition.

On Saturday, Ruto vowed to hold accountable those responsible for the recent killings. However, his efforts to address public concerns seem insufficient to stem the tide of unrest.

On Monday, he called on the Ford Foundation, an organization promoting civic engagement, to clarify its role in the protests, though the foundation did not respond to requests for comment.

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