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Government & Politics

Calabar-Lagos Rail Omission Fallout: Saraki Begs Southern Senators

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Saraki has moved to pacify the Southern senators over the controversial omission of the Lagos-Calabar rail project from the 2016 national budget which has raised dust in recent times.
Strong indications emerged during the weekend that the Senate was putting in place moves to pacify Southern senators over the controversy surrounding the Calabar-Lagos rail project in the 2016 Appropriation Bill, with Senate President, Bukola Saraki, practically begging Southern senators over the removal of the Calabar-Lagos rail project from the budget.
A source told Vanguard that as part of moves to find a common ground on the budget in the interest of Southern senators, Senate President, Bukola Saraki, met with Southern senators in his office, last Thursday evening, with the Chairman of Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senator Danjuma Goje, APC, Gombe Central, and some members of the committee.
It was resolved at the meeting that there was need to look at the areas of concern since the Calabar-Lagos railway, if accommodated in the budget, would be beneficial to the cities and towns the proposed project would have its routes. According to a source at the meeting, the Senate President asked the appropriation committee to find a soft-landing for the executive on the proposed project for the overall interest of the states the rail line would pass through and Nigeria in general.
The source, who was privy to some of the issues raised at the meeting, told Vanguard that Senator Goje promised that his committee would give the proposal an accelerated approval, if President Buhari sent it to the Senate as a supplementary budget. It was also gathered that the Southern senators told the Senate President that if the project was eventually accommodated in the 2016 budget, places such as Ijebu-Ode in Ogun State; Ore in Ondo State; Benin in Edo State; Agbor; Sapele; Warri; Ughelli, all in Delta State; Onitsha in Anambra State; Yenegoa in Bayelsa; Port Harcourt in Rivers State, among others, would benefit from it to boost their development.
It would be recalled that senators from the Southern part of Nigeria last Wednesday asked President Muhammadu Buhari not to give his assent to the 2016 Appropriation Bill that had been passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives until both chambers agreed to include the Calabar-Lagos rail project in the budget. According to the Southern senators, the call for the supplementary budget was an attempt to deny the south an opportunity to enjoy a viable rail project.
The resolution came after both federal legislators from the South West, and South South geopolitical zones met in their caucus levels last Tuesday night and resolved to resist any attempt to deny their people the viable project. While the South South, South East senators met at undisclosed locations outside the National Assembly complex, South West senators had met at the residence of Senator Gbenga Ashafa, APC, Lagos East. Railway workers react Meanwhile, Nigerian Railway workers weekend in Lagos, advised the Presidency and the National Assembly, to harmonize their positions and ensure the re-inclusion of the Lagos-Calabar railway project in the 2016 budget.

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Acting under the platform of Nigeria Union of Railway Workers, NUR, the workers urged the National Assembly, its committees and the executive arm of government to desist from further trading of blames and resolve the Lagos – Calabar railway project issue for the sake of Nigerians. The union in a statement signed by the Secretary General, Segun Esan, said: “The Presidency and the National Assembly should stop any further bickering and blame game that is going on in the media as a result of the alleged removal or non-inclusion of the Lagos-Calabar railway project in the 2016 budget. Such blame game will not help us as a nation but rather will portray us as unserious people.

The only patriotic and honest thing to do now is for the executive and the legislative arms to come together and clear the project for inclusion in the budget. No two ways about that.”

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