By Nwangwu Uba
When President Muhammadu Buhari directed the ministers and Heads of Agencies and Palatals to come up prepare the status report of their ministries preparation to handing over to the next set of ministers and the Heads of Agencies and Parastatals to prepare their status reports on policies, programs and projects executed in their respective ministries , agencies and parastatals in the last four years not may many people took him serious because of the carefree attitude of the ministers.
Unknown to them , the Katsina state born Nigerian President has his action plans on how to deliver his electioneering Campaign promises to Nigeria in the next four years as a prelude to this he had made an undisclosed visit to the United Kingdom between April 25, 219 and May 5, 2019, to draw up the action plan for the next four year years in office without any interruption from the alleged Cabal in the Presidency.
He was said to have also used the opportunity to draw up his ministerial list which remain a closely guided secret to him. It is not surprising hy the Katsina state born Nigeria President could assure Nigerians that they have no cause to worry in this his second term in office as he will provide effective and result orientated leadership that wil safeguard a better living for Nigerians.
”The expectations of Nigerians will be met”, he insists. The ministers may have known that they have to good account of the budgetary allocation to their ministries including the agencies and Parastatals under the ministry in the last four years to qualify to be re-appointed into the new Cabinet that are yet to be formed.
Rotimi Amaechi, a former governor of Rivers state and minister of Transportation, who is singing a new song that he has no problem with Nyesom Wike, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, governor of the state but for insisting of coming out to run for a second term in the 2019 governorship election of the state may have read the handwriting on the wall to speak out the works done in the nation’s transport sector, particular , solving the transport problem through reviving the rail transportation sector to justify the huge expenditure on the sector. The minister disclosed that the Lagos Ibadan rail road will had gulped $1.6 while the Abuja -Kaduna rail road will gulp $1 billion so far. He noted that that the Lagos -Ibadan rail project alone, will require an additional $8.7 billion or between N3 trillion and N4 trillion , going by the current official exchange rate of N360 .00 to a dollar to complete.
Many believe that that the expenditure profile was based on the work estimate given to the government by the Chine Civil Engineering and Construction Company, CCECC, which won the contract tfor the construction of the country rail network. the government may have laid the foundation for the commissioning of the Lagos- ibadan rail network as it has placed order for the supply of Coaches and locomotives that would be used on the railroad from China. Amaechi, the minister of Transportation , confirmed in an Interview with Channel’s Television that about 4500 million had been paid the oversea suppliers. He is optimistic that the suppliers will not delay in the delivery of the rail Coaches and locomotives to the country because of the assurance given to the government during the signing of the contract .
in spite of the billions of dollars spent on the country’s rail sector in the last four years by the Buhari Administration, Amaechi, the Rivers state born minister of Transportation has said that the country will need to spend an additional l $35 billion to $45 billion to be able solve the solve the country’s transportation problem once and for all.
According to him, the amount would take care of the construction of the Lagos -Kano-PortHarcourt -Maiduguri- Lagos -Calabar and the Abuja -Warri rail network. The minister noted that once these four rail tracks could be executed , the government would have covered the whole country that would go a long way to solving the country’s transportation problem .
Given the billions of dollars that had been spent on the nation’s rail tracks in the last for years, critics had described the Amechi controlled ministry of Transportation as a money guzzler with nothing to show for it But the minister would not agree, insisting that rail projects anywhere in the world are capital intensive. the situation is worse in Nigeria because virtually all the steel products used for the rail construction projection project are imported. Note that that the there no functional steel plants in the country. Past and present government have made several attempts , using the Russian Contractors, to revive the Ajaokuta and Aladja steel plants in Delta state but not much appear to have been achieved .
The question on the lips of most people is : how much has entered into the government coffers from the coaches and locomotives that are currently running in the country functional rail road. Take for instance, the Lagos district of the Nigeria Railways Corporation, NRC, officials claimed that between January and October 2018, it conveyed 9,663 passengers on the Lagos -Kano Express Train and back . It was said to have also carried about two million passengers on eight uninterrupted trips to and from Ijoko/Kajoula to Iddo/Apapa on the Lagos Mass Transit Train while the Diesel Multiple Unit alone conveyed about 1.5 million passengers on two trips from Ijoko – Iddo and back. It was said to have carried 1.2 million tons of freight. A good business, rail watchers may say but the district officials fail to tell Nigerians how much accrued into government coffers from the trips within the period , fueling speculation s that it may have been diverted to other sources.
While the Lagos district has kept a closed guided secret its yearly revenue generation from passenger travells and freight, the Abuja-Kaduna district, disclosed that it generated from its Train services over N960 million in 2018 through ticketing, stating that the average monthly generation was about N80 million. Despite the monthly revenue of the district, Fidet Okhria, the Corporation Managing Director , laments that it is running at a deficit, insiting that the only way Abuja-Kaduna district could break even would be when it start generation over a N100 million monthly. Note that the district alone is currently spending over N100 million as running cost.
But the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics , NBS, based on figures supplied it by the Corporation, disclosed that the Corporation generated N871.92 million between January and June , 2018, for passenger travels. Recall that in 2017, Okhria, the Corporation Managing Director had , cheerfully announced that it generated N4.2 billion as against N4.85 billion targeted. It was a cheery news but that was how far it could go as there many loopholes used in short-changing the Corporation by Contractors, suppliers and officials, which needed to be covered before the agency could break even. It is not surprising why analysts described the NRC, as a money guzzler , used by past and present Administrations to waste government resources.