Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Abuja-Kaduna rail project “partially executed” by Jonathan – Amaechi

The Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, on Tuesday admitted that the Abuja-Kaduna rail project was partially executed by the Goodluck Jonathan administration, but added that the President Buhari’s government
was responsible for executing the final stages that were crucial to the project’s completion.

The line, first of its kind in Nigeria, was commissioned amidst fanfare by Mr. Buhari in Kubwa, a suburb of Abuja and major terminal for the route, on Tuesday.

But no latter had the commissioning ceremony got underway than arguments about who deserved the most credit for what is now widely acknowledged as one of the most consequential improvements to Nigeria’s rail transportation in a long time ensued.

The social media became awash with arguments between supporters of Mr. Buhari, who said he had scored another major developmental achievement barely a year in office, and admirers of Mr. Jonathan, who said the former leader completed the project before leaving office in May 2015.

The PDP released a statement detailing how the project was conceived and completed through counterpart funding by Mr. Jonathan’s administration.

In an apparent bid to douse the tension flaring between the two camps, Mr. Amaechi took to his Twitter handle to weigh in on the matter, saying the project was, in fact, conceived by President Olusegun Obasanjo, who left office nine years ago, and received contributions from successive governments.

“The rail contract was awarded by President Obasanjo, partially executed by President Jonathan and completed by President Buhari,” Mr. Amaechi said.

Mr. Amaechi’s tweet elicited criticism from mostly PDP supporters, who said the minister was being disingenuous.

They said Mr. Amaechi left out the fact that the train project was awarded by Mr. Jonathan in 2011 through counterpart funding with a Chinese construction firm at the rate of $874 million.

The PDP also posted a link to a December 2014 Chinese news report suggesting the project was completed in December 2014, after Mr. Amaechi’s predecessor in the ministry reportedly bolted the last knot on the tracks.

But Mr. Amaechi held his ground, saying a lot of efforts were put into the completion by the APC government.

“The rail stations, the signaling, the communications and part of d tracks were done and completed by the Buhari administration,” he said.