Wednesday, 12 August 2015 09:14

Nigeria: U.S.$1 Billion Rail Project - Buhari Queries Diversion of U.S.$600 Million Foreign Loan

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A Nigerian train coach named after former president, Goodluck JonathanPresident Muhammed Buhari yesterday demanded an explanation from the ministry of finance on the over $1billion foreign loans obtained by the immediate past administration for rail projects but diverted to other purposes.

Specifically, he frowned at the diversion of a substantial part of the loan of $1.005 billion from the Chinese Exim Bank, which was obtained for the construction of a standard gauge rail line linking Lagos to Kano.

The president, who was informed by the ministry of transport that only $400 million of the said loan was left with the ministry of finance, said it was disappointing to discover that foreign loans acquired by the country under signed agreements were moved from one project to another.

"I hope that due process was followed before such diversions were carried out. Taking money from one project to another has to be done properly", Buhari warned after top officials of the ministry of transport led by the permanent secretary, Alhaji Mohammed Bashar briefed him on the state of affairs at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

According to him, it was regrettable that, over the years, government had failed to meet its counter-part funding obligation on some projects, a situation which led to such projects being abandoned or left uncompleted.

President Buhari further stressed the need for a clearer streamlining, harmonization and prioritization of ongoing projects in the transport sector.

Earlier, the permanent secretary had also briefed the president on other challenges facing the transport and maritime sectors.

He listed some the challenges to include the encroachment on railway land, lack of security at inland waterways and the confused nature of agreements between the Nigeria Ports Authority and ports concessionaires.

Briefing journalists after meeting with president, the permanent secretary said the president expressed his commitment in ensuring that ongoing major projects ‎in the transport sector are completed during his tenure.

He noted the laying of tracks on the Abuja-Kaduna rail project had been completed, while locomotives already being paid for are waiting for operations to commence on the route by December this year.

He said: "Basically, what we did was to present to the president the various programmes and projects and the reform efforts we have been undertaking in the last couple of years, the stages of the various projects, especially the railway rehabilitation programme and development in our seaports.

"And also some of the regulatory issues that we sought are due for review and attention. The president is quite impressed with what has been achieved so far and he has indicated his willingness to continue with a lot of projects and programmes already on ground.

"And he has expressed his support, especially when we start talking about the capacity building for individual operators in the country. He is really appreciative of the entrepreneur initiatives of Nigerians and indication that government will continue to give its full support".

Sagay Heads Presidential Anti-corruption Advisory Committee

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday constituted the Presidential Advisory Committee (PAC) on the war against corruption with a renowned professor of law and civil rights activist, Professor Itse Sagay (SAN), as its chairman.

Similarly, three international development partners, the Ford Foundation, MacArthur Foundation and Open Society Foundation, have established an anti-corruption and criminal justice reform fund to assist the federal government prosecute the war against corruption.

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, noted in a statement that the presidential anti-graft committee is also expected to develop comprehensive interventions for achieving recommended reforms

He said the committee's terms of reference include to advise the present administration on the prosecution of the war against corruption and the implementation of required reforms in Nigeria's criminal justice system.

The presidential spokesman noted that the anti-corruption and criminal justice reform fund is to be managed by Trust Africa, an international development civil society organisation with programme presence in more than 25 African countries.

Adesina said, "In support of the federal government's efforts, an Anti-Corruption and Criminal Justice Reform Fund has been established by three international development partners, namely the Ford Foundation, MacArthur Foundation and Open Society Foundation.

"The $5 million fund is to assist the implementation of key components of the action plan and the work of the Presidential Advisory Committee."

He further listed members of the committee to include Prof. Femi Odekunle, a Professor of Criminology, Ahmadu Bello University (member); Dr. (Mrs) Benedicta Daudu, Associate Professor of International Law, University of Jos (member), and Prof. E. Alemika, Professor of Sociology, University of Jos (member).

Others are Professor Sadiq Radda, Professor of Criminology, Bayero University, Kano (member); Hadiza Bala Usman, civil society activist (member) and Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (member and executive secretary of the committee).

Influential Nigerians Must Contribute In Solving Our Problems - PMB

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday urged privileged and influential citizens of Nigeria to get ready to contribute more meaningfully towards helping the country to overcome its economic and security challenges.

"With the shock of falling oil prices, lack of revenues, and insecurity, the Nigerian elite must now wake up and provide the right guidance in their communities, and also lead the economy on the right path more than they used to do," he declared.

Buhari made this call when he granted audience to the outgoing president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Donald Kaberuka.

He said that privileged and influential citizens clearly had to do more now than in the past to help the country deal successfully with its economic and security problems.

He told Kaberuka and other AfDB officials that his administration will welcome more support from the AfDB for projects in versatile sectors like agriculture that can easily be explored to create more jobs for unemployed Nigerians.

The president said, "An impression has been erroneously created that we are a rich country, but looking at the economic profile of the country today, you will see that that is not necessarily the case.

"Our social services have to be seriously rehabilitated. We need urgent attention on areas like education and health services, not only in the north eastern part of the country, but all round the country.

"We will fall back on institutions like the AfDB for support in generating employment. We have vast potential in the agricultural sector that can be explored to create more jobs. We also have small businesses that need funds for expansion".

On his part, Kaberuka told President Buhari that some development institutions like the World Bank, German Development Bank and the European Development Bank had already indicated their readiness to provide long term loan facilities to small businesses in Nigeria.

The outgoing AfDB President assured the President that the AfDB which currently has a strong capital base of $4.8 billion will always support economic projects in Nigeria.

Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina of Nigeria will replace the outgoing AfDB president next month.

PMB Administration Will Not Be Deterred By Distractions - APC

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has said the distractions being orchestrated by certain elements in the polity will not deter the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari from its avowed determination to rescue Nigeria from the clutches of those who are holding the country by the jugular.

The party, in a statement issued in Lagos yesterday by its national publicity secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the people, including fringe elements, who have frenetically engaged in faultfinding with the Buhari administration are those who either have skeletons in their cupboards or those who are acting at such persons' behest for a fee.

"These paranoid and skittish people daily run to the media to disparage the Buhari administration. Grasping at their straws, they condemn and criticize everything, from appointments to the war against corruption and the battle against insecurity, even though the party to which they belong had 16 years to make things right for Nigeria but chose to suck the country dry, enthrone insecurity and pauperize the citizenry.

"Their design is simple: Make enough incoherent noise in the media with the hope that the administration will be distracted. Unfortunately for them, they have failed in their evil machination, because this president can neither be deterred nor be distracted," it said.

APC said while a virile opposition is indispensable in any democracy that is worth its salt, no opposition can succeed by dwelling on the mundane or engaging in bare-faced lies, adding that only good research, strict adherence to the truth and a focus on real issues, rather than frivolities, can make the opposition relevant.

It wondered how the APC-led federal government can be blamed for the blatant refusal of the last administration to adequately equip the military to confront the Boko Haram insurgency, when even an appointee of that administration had told the whole world that he was the head of a military that lacked the relevant equipment and motivation to fight an insurgency

Stop Taking Credit For Our Achievements, PDP Tells APC

The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has criticized the All Progressives Congress (APC) for taking credit for its achievements, saying that it insincere.

The opposition party urged the APC and President Muhammadu Buhari to make haste and activate the various economic outlets which had been stagnated as a result of the governing party's obvious inability to articulate a clear-cut economic policy for the nation.

PDP national publicity secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, in a statement yesterday, said it was disappointing that a government which came to power on claims of high moral ground, rather than focus on delivering its promises, is showing off the achievements of the previous government in an attempt to make the public believe that recorded successes in critical sectors are its.

"For instance, how do we explain APC's spirited effort to make the public believe that the equipping of the country's military for the fights against insurgency, the turnaround of the nation's oil refineries, and the polio-free certification of Nigeria were products of their government even when it is common knowledge that it has not been able to find its bearing for governance since its election into office.

"If the former national security adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki, had not been courageous enough to release those incontrovertible facts - that the Goodluck Jonathan-led PDP administration actually fortified the country's military before leaving office in Ma y - the APC would have succeeded in its propaganda against that administration and led Nigerians to believe that the equipping was a product of President Buhari's recent diplomatic shuttles."

He remarked, before the May 29 handover to the APC, the Nigerian armed forces, using the equipment sourced under the watch of the PDP government, had already pushed the insurgents to the verge of surrender in the Sambisa forest, only for the terrorists "to now resurge under the APC-led government due to apparent lack of direction and confusion that have characterized this administration."

The PDP said instead of trying to poach achievements to earn an undeserved praise, the APC and its government should brace up, articulate a precise economic policy, assemble an economic team and urgently commence the delivery of their promises for which they were voted.

"Also, we want to reiterate our earlier call on Nigerians to continue to pray for President Muhammadu Buhari, who for obvious reasons is surrounded by people whose divergent personal interests have become a huge burden on our dear nation, the integrity of this government, the health of our economy and sustenance of our democracy," Metuh concluded.


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