The President Muhammadu Buhari administration has released N72 billion counterpart funding for the construction of Lagos-Ibadan modernisation railway project.
The minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, made this known at the quarterly Presidential Business Forum which was presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Banquet Hall, Abuja, on Monday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Lagos-Ibadan rail project which was awarded to China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation would cost about 1.5 billion dollars (N458bn).
Mr Amaechi, who commended the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, for ensuring full release of the counterpart funds for the project, enjoined the National Assembly to ensure speedy approval of the 30 billion dollars foreign loans for various project.
“I think in the history of Nigeria this is the first time that we are releasing counterpart funding in full so that there will be no delay, since the Chinese loan appears to have been approved.
“The only thing we need to do, I thank God there is somebody from the National Assembly is to plead with the National Assembly.
“The National Assembly should please approve the 30 billion dollars loan.
“If you don’t respond, if you don’t encourage the National Assembly to make that approval, then, the economy won’t be making the kind of progress we want the economy to make.
“So, for me here, I will enjoin you to persuade the National Assembly to kindly make that approval because they are tied to projects,’’ he said.
He called on the National Assembly to approve the loans in order to enhance employment opportunities in the country.
On the concerns raised by the President of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Frank Udenba-Jacobs, over the closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja, Amaechi said the airport’s runway would be reconstructed not rehabilitated.
“I don’t know if there is anything new you want to hear about the closure of the airport.
“The story is the runway was built to last for 20 years and now it has lasted for 34 years and government does not want to lose anybody.
“I heard that Lufthansa landed and damaged their gear. They have been grounded for three days, trying to repair it and fly back.
“Imagine if those three hundred and something persons had died. The first thing you will hear is Minister of transportation- resign; minister of state for Aviation – resign.
“We don’t want to resign.”
According to Mr Amaechi, the entire architecture of the runway from bottom to top has collapsed, insisting it is totally unsafe to continue to use the runway.
In his remarks, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo reiterated the determination of the Federal Government to inaugurate its Economic Recovery Growth Plan in February.
According to him, sustainable economic growth is only possible if it is private sector led.
“The main plan of our economic plan is the sustenance of a robust private sector partnership.
“Indeed it is our strong belief that sustainable economic growth is only possible if it is private sector led.
“And a good deal of attention has been paid as you will probably find in sustaining private sector leadership especially in the planning of our economic recovery and growth plan 2017, which is to be launched next month.
“I want to say that the pivot of that plan is private sector led recovery and a private sector led goal plan.
“So this forum is an important one for engendering the continuous engagement that this partnership will entail,” he added.