The Senate has resolved to ask President Bola Tinubu to upgrade Eastern Rail Line (traversing Port Harcourt to Maiduguri) from Narrow Gauge to Standard Gauge Rail.
The upper legislative chamber also called on the federal government to suspend the purported planned rehabilitation of the outdated Narrow Gauge Rail from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri.
It equally called on the federal government to instead make arrangements for the proper funding of the construction of Standard Gauge Rail in the Eastern Rail Line as well as the acquisition of modern coaches.
The Red Chamber further urged the Committee on Land Transport to ensure that all five geo-political zones within the Eastern Rail Line Corridor benefit from the ongoing railway standardization and modernization programme of the Federal Government.
The resolutions came after a motion sponsored by Senator Victor Umeh (Anambra Central) and co-sponsored by 34 other senators across the geo-political zones at the plenary on Wednesday
Umeh, in the notion noted that the Eastern Rail Line which serves 4 geopolitical zones of South South, South East, North Central and North East, runs from Port Hacourt, through Enugu, Markurdi, Jos, Bauchi and Maiduguri, is the longest and one of the oldest rail lines in Nigeria.
He said in 2017 that the federal government got a loan of $6.8 billion (US Dollars) for standardization and modernization of the Nigerian railways network.
According to him the Federal Government embarked on modernization of the following rail lines: Abuja-Kaduna, Ajaokuta-Itakpe-Warri, Lagos-Ibadan, Kaduna-Kano and Kano Maradi in Niger Republic, which have been completed or nearing completion and operational with new coaches.
Unfortunately, Port Harcourt to Maiduguri line remains the only Narrow Guage rail line in Nigeria, he said.
He observed that in April 2022 the Federal Government awarded a failed contract sum of $3.2 million for rehabilitation and reconstruction of a Narrow Gauge rail line instead of Standard Gauge rail line from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri “which has been vandalized, abandoned and overgrown with weeds and trees”.
The motion which was overwhelming supported by the senators was described by the Senate President Godswill Akpabio as “a national, patriotic for the entire country” saying the rail line can “serve more than half of the country”.
Akpabio recalled how he used the rail in those good old days to travel to Port Harcourt, adding “what is worth doing is worth doing well and communicating Senate position to Tinubu”.
Speaking with journalists after the plenary, Umeh expressed happiness that the motion was overwhelmingly supported by senators from all the geo-political zones.
He expressed the hope that the present Tinubu government with the renewed hope agenda will modernize the rail line to boost the economy of that corridor.
Senate urges FG to withhold statutory allocation to LGC without elected officials
The Senate has urged the Federal Government to henceforth withhold statutory allocation to the Local Governments Councils(LGC) without democratically elected leaders
In the last three months of August, September and October the Local Governments received N702.647b out of N1.006 shared for the three tiers of government in the period under review.
The legality or otherwise of the Federal Governmemt’s power to enforce the Senate’s recommendation is left for legal experts to analyse
The Senate’s recommendation came after debate on the Urgent Need to halt the erosion of democracy: the dissolution of elected Councils in Benue State sponsored by Sen. Moro, Abba Patrick (Benne South)
The senate condemned the arbitrary dissolution of democratically elected Local Government Councils in Benue and other states in Nigeria
It also resolved to urge the Federal Government to review the Benue State governor’s dissolution of the elected councils and constitution of caretaker committees and reinstate the elected council executive forthwith.
The upper legislative chamber urged the governor of Benue state to adhere to his oath of office to obey the rule of law and defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
While leading the debate Senator Moro he was dismayed by the dissolution of Democratically Elected Councils in Benue State,
According to him, replacing the elected chairmen with Caretaker Committees to is an aberration and alien to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended)
Quoting Section (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) he said it guarantees a system of local government by Democratically Elected Councils.
He insisted that it is the Constitutional responsibility of every state to ensure the existence of Local
Government Councils by law.
He indicated that there are subsisting court rulings directing the Governor, the House of Assembly, their agents, privies etc not to tamper with the tenure of the elected Councils
He therefore challenged the Governor/Government of Benue State to first appeale the outstanding judgments which has not been done adding that it is against the grain of the rule of law
Senator Adams Oshiomhole (Edo North) pointed out thatabout 16 states in Nigeria are currently without democratically elected council officials.
He urged the Senate to direct the Finance Minister to stop funding LGS without elected council officials.
Oshiomhole’s suggestion was supported by Senator Ali Ndume.
The senator representing Oyo North, Abdulfatai Buhari indicated that the Electoral Act should be amended to empower the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct local government elections.
The President of the senate Godswill Akpabio also frowned at the establishment of multiple federal agencies but advocated the creation of the National Electoral Commission for Local Government so that governors would no longer have overbearing influence on council polls
Tinubu asks Senate to endorse $8.6bn, €100m loans approved by Buhari’s govt
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has asked the Senate to give him the authorization to borrow $8,699,168,559 and €100 million to carryout critical projects across the country.
The president’s request was contained in a letter read at the commencement of plenary on Tuesday by Senate President Godswill Akpabio.
Tinubu, in the letter, explained that the request was part of the federal government 2022-2024 external borrowing plan approved by former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
He said the projects to be funded with the loan cuts across different sectors of the economy, and were selected based on economic evaluation and the expected contribution to the country’s development.
The letter reads, “I write in respect of the above subject and to submit the attached the federal government 2022-2024 external borrowing plan for consideration and early approval of the National Assembly to ensure prompt implementation of the projects.
“The Senate may wish to note that the past administration approved a 2022-2024 borrowing plan by the federal executive council (FEC) held on May 15, 2023.
“The projects cut across all sectors, with specific emphasis on infrastructure, agriculture, health, water supply, roads, security, and employment generation as well as financial management reforms.
“Consequently, the required approval is in the sum of $8,699,168,559 and €100 million.
“I would like to underscore the fact that the projects and programmes in the borrowing plan were selected based on economic evaluations as well as the expected contribution to the social economic development of the country, including employment generation, and skills acquisition.
“Given the nature of these facilities, and the need to return the country to normalcy, it has become necessary for the Senate to consider and approve the 2022- 2024 external abridged borrowing plan to enable the government deliver its responsibility to Nigerians.”
Niger Coup: Northern Senators ask ECOWAS to lift restrictions on Niger Republic
***Plead with Tinubu to restore electricity supply to Niger
The Northern Senators Forum on Monday called on President Bola Tinubu to as a matter of Urgency use his position as Chairman of ECOWAS to lift restrictions on Niger Republic in the interest of business and border community
They also demanded that Nigeria restore electricity supply to Niger Republic in line with the Nigeria-Niger treaty mandate.
The senators had in July on the heels of the military forceful take over of the democratically elected government in Niger, cautioned President Tinubu against use of Military power towards tackling the military coup, as they called for diplomatic options.
A communique issued at the end of their emergency meeting which was read by the chairman of the forum, Senator Abdul Ningi (Bauch Central) stated, “The forum on very strong terms condemn the spate of Military intervention in the democratic spaces in the West African subregion.
“The Northern Senators Forum in particular condemns the coup in Niger and urged the military junta in Niger to soften the relationship with the rest of ECOWAS military by setting free President Muhammed Bazoum and his immediate family to freely choose a country of his choice for asylum
They further urged the junta in Niger to bring about a transition time table that will last not more than two years.
They ask ECOWAS to lift restrictions on Niger Republic in the interest of business and border community.
“It is important that Nigeriens should not suffer because of the coup that took place just like we have seen what is happening in Gaza
“We ask the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Commander in chief of the Armed forces and of course the chairman of ECOWAS, President Muhammed Bola Tinubu to as a matter of humanitarian gesture restore electricity supply to Niger Republic in line with the Nigeria-Niger treaty mandate.
Ningi called on Nigerians and Nigerien to remember that they remain brothers, partners and Africans and above all, we remain human beings
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