Minister Rotimi Amaech got more than he thought when the colleagues of his bosom political friend, Senate President Bukola Saraki, made him sweat in uncomfortable places over leaving out the South-East from the multi-trillion rail projects of the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
He was grilled. He was ruffled. But he maintain his calm on the surface. And then he was sent back to his office to produce documents at a later date.
The Senate Committee on Foreign and Local debts headed by Senator Shehu Sani began its probe into the alleged exclusion of the South East from the Federal government’s rail modernisation projects, with exchanges, atimes heated, between the minister and members.
Sani; Enyinaya Abaribe, the man whose motion led to the probe by lawmakers; Sabi Abdullahi maintained that the Federal government used uneven scales for the Western and Eastern axes of the rail projects.
According to him, the Buhari administration was merely running with what was the brainchild and handiwork of former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan.
His words:”Prior to the resolution of the Senate, this administration had taken steps to incorporate the Eastern Corridor and indeed the North East Corridor that was not provided for at all by the previous administration in 2006 and 2014 rail projects development.”
“The Coastal rail line already has its route alignment passing through Aba in Abia State and Onitsha in Anambra State, both of which are in the South East geopolitical zone.
“These projects for which the approval of the National Assembly of USD 5,214,914,368.33 being co-financing fund by China EXIM bank is being sought for the rail projects were neither conceived not approved under President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, rather, this administration pursued the projects vigorously in view of their importance to the development of the socio-economic lives of the citizenry.”
He was subsequently sent back to produce documents to back his assertions that show that the South-East is not left out.
Recall that the Chairman, South East caucus in the Senate, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, initiated the probe of the rail projects, claiming in a motion in the Senate that his South East geo-political zone was left out of the Rail Modernisation project.
The Senate then detailed its Committee on Foreign and Local Debts to investigate.