The Senate, Tuesday, resolved to summon the Transport Minister, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi over the exclusion of South-East from the beneficiaries of the $5.8bn loan request from China Exim Bank by the Federal Government for the construction of Standard Gauge lines across the country.
The Federal Government is now requesting the loan which will be repaid by all regions of the country including the South-East to fund a standard guage lines running from Lagos-Kano, Kano-Kaduna, Lagos-Ibadan, and Lagos Calabar which is a deviation from the original plan that included the Eastern section that links the four zones of the South-South, South-East, North-Central and North-East and Key cities such as Port-Harcourt, Aba, Enugu, Makurdi, Lafia, Gudi, Jos, Bauchi and Maiduguri.
Raising a motion at the floor of the senate against approving the loan over South-East exclusion, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, (PDP Abia South), urged the Senate to reject approving the loan until all regions were carried along in the utilisation of the loan.
Abaribe in his motion had queried with dismay why the government wanted to take such a huge loan that would benefit all other regions apart from the South East.
He said the loan would be paid back by all section of the country and as such, all section should be taken into consideration.
“There is railway master plan developed by the Ministry of Transport and of which such plan has not been referred to in the current borrowing plan. “For the railway project to have a meaningful impact on the development of the country, it should cover all parts of Nigeria.
“Therefore the exclusion of the Eastern section that links the four zones of the South-South, South-East, North-Central and North-East and the Key cities such as Port-Harcourt, Aba, Enugu, Makurdi, Lafia, Gudi, Jos, Bauchi and Maiduguri is inexplicable,” he said.
However, the President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki noted that the leadership of the National Assembly had already identified the flaw and had taken it up with the executive.
Saraki said the executive had taken note of the issues and had agreed to reach a resolution with the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debt on the matter.
The Senate, however, upheld the argument of Senator Abaribe that there was no reason why the South East should be excluded from the rail project for which the loan was sought.
The Senate, further, okayed the motion to invite the minister of transportation to explain why the Eastern line was excluded from the plan.
The minister is expected to appear before the committee on Local and Foreign Debts to explain the exclusion.
The Deputy President of the Senate also supported the motion stressing that the whole country would pay for the loan and as such the loan should be beneficial to all.