The Senate on Wednesday vowed to tackle the Presidency over claims by Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, that the National Assembly was yet to approve loans that would be used for rail infrastructure.
In a statement by its spokesperson, Aliyu Abdullahi, on Wednesday in Abuja, the senate said Mr. Amaechi alleged that the non-approval of the loan was frustrating construction of Lagos-Ibadan, Ibadan-Ilorin-Minna-Kano rail lines.
It said that the minister’s claim was not only false but misrepresenting and contradictory to available facts.
It insisted that the minister must withdraw the claim which was made at the North Central Town Hall meeting in Ilorin on Monday.
The senate expressed disappointment that such statement could come from a cabinet member, adding that it was evident he was not in tune with the position of the government he was serving, on the matter.
PREMIUM TIMES reported Mr. Amaechi’s claims that the federal government had secured $7.5 billion loan for rail projects but was waiting for the National Assembly’s approval to access the loan.
The $7.5 billion loan is part of the $30 billion the Buhari administration has said it needs to finance infrastructure projects.
Mr. Amaechi on Monday provided details of the rail project at the North Central Town Hall meeting held in Ilorin for the people of Kogi, Niger and Kwara states.
According to him, the loan was secured from a Chinese bank and the ministry is waiting for approval of the National Assembly to access the loan.
He said that $1. 4 billion of the loan was for the construction of the rail gauge from Lagos to Ibadan, while $6. 1 billion would be used on Ibadan–Ilorin–Minna-Kaduna– Kano line.
Contrary to Mr. Amaechi’s claim, the Senate spokesperson said, no such loan request was before the Senate.
“As at today, the only request for approval from the executive for loan was the one dated January 27, 2017 and signed by Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
“The request was seeking a `resolution of National Assembly for Issuance of one billion Euro Bond in the International Capital Market for funding of 2016 Budget Deficit’ and we immediately granted the approval.
“Also, in the letter quoted above, the Government mentioned the two rail lines cited by the minister as part of the projects for which the Euro Bond will be utilised.
“So, we do not understand what the grouse of Mr. Amaechi is.
“We view that statement based on false and misinformed premise strongly as a mere attempt to incite the people against the National Assembly,” it said.
The senate further said that “as a former Speaker of a state House of Assembly, we believe that a minister like Amaechi should always check his facts and refrain from making unguarded and inciting remarks against the legislature.
“What Nigeria needs at this point is for all arms of government to work together and create the synergy necessary to take Nigeria out of the present economic crisis we have found ourselves.
“Comments designed to infuriate one arm of government or incite the people against another arm of the government will do no one any good.”