Restore the Lagos-Calabar Railway Project – Buhari
The level of confusion that has overwhelmed the 2016 Appropriation Bill continues to resonate with the allegation that the two chambers of the National Assembly distorted the infrastructure development agenda of the Federal Government before forwarding the Bill to President Muhammadu Buhari for his approval.
According to media reports, the Appropriation Committees of the Senate and House of Representatives led by Senator Danjuma Goje and Hon Abdulmunin Jibrin respectively, modified allocations to key areas and reshuffled them to projects located mostly in the Northern parts of the country.
A typical illustration of the budget reallocation can be sited in the arbitrary “cancellation” of the Lagos-Calabar railway project and the diversion of funds allocated for it.
The project which was billed to cost 80 billion naira was reportedly allocated N60 billion in the controversial budget as a counterpart fund which the government of China will complement with N20 billion to ensure its speedy realization.
While Presidency sources claimed that government had to return the budget to the National Assembly because these alterations would derail its core developmental agenda, Hon Jibrin maintained that the Lagos-Calabar railway line project was not included in the original budget which Buhari submitted to the National Assembly.
He, however, argued that the Federal Legislature had the right to appropriate funds under the constitution and that his district was also part of Nigeria and had the right to benefit from the development programmes of government.
“We do not dispute the fact that the Legislature is vested with the power to appropriate public fund and supervise its expenditure. This is expressly reflected in Sections 80 to 84 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999. We, however, hasten to caution that these powers must be applied without prejudicing the constitutional rights of the Executive to provide good governance in line with the campaign promises of the party in power.” He said.
Vehemently criticizing the efforts of politicians from any section who intend to hijack funds meant for the even development of the country to gratify their home region, he called for the immediate restoration and speedy implementation of the Lagos-Calabar Railway project in the 2016 budget.
This and other projects lined up in the budget presented by President Buhari will go a long way in massively providing jobs, diversifying the economy and linking up centres of commerce in the South for national prosperity and integration. We urge the President to pursue this and all other laudable provisions in the budget to their logical conclusion and assure him that Nigerians are eager for his success.