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The Senator representing Lagos East
Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Senator Gbenga Ashafa on Tuesday,
16th May 2017 vehemently urged his colleagues to ensure that
the National Assembly passes the loan request from executive arm with which to
fund the Lagos to Kano and Calabar to Lagos Standard Gauge Rail Projects.

The Senator made the call while
contributing to a motion sponsored by Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe (Abia South) on
the “Outright Omission of the Eastern Corridor Rail line in the request for
approval of Federal Government 2016 to 2018 External Borrowing Plan.
You would recall that on the 26th of
April 2017, the Federal Government laid before the National Assembly a request
seeking an approval for a loan of $5,851 Billion from China Exim Bank to
execute the Modernisation of Lagos to Kano, Kano to Kaduna, Lagos to Ibadan and
Lagos to Calabar rail segment.
Senator Abaribe had observed with dismay
that the segments for which the Federal Government sought the loans covered
only a section of the country while the South Eastern to North Eastern parts of
the rail line had been completely excluded. The senator therefore urged the
Senate to Suspend consideration of the loan request of any guise until the
correction of this apparent oversight of the eastern parts of the country and
invite the Minister of Transport to appear and explain the reason for the
oversight of the east.
While contributing to the motion, Ashafa
who is also the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Land Transport stated his
support for all the Geo Political Zones to benefit from the Governments Rail
Infrastructure programs. Speaking further, the Senator however urged his
colleagues not to throw away the baby with the bathwater by suspending the
consideration of the loan request on the grounds canvassed in the motion. He
stated that the Lagos to Kano and Calabar to Lagos Standard Gauge Projects
would cut across the entire country with all Geo Political Zones including the
South East benefitting immensely from the project.
Ashafa stated that “for instance, the
Calabar to Lagos Coastal Rail would pass through: Obudu Cattle
Ranch-Calabar-Uyo-Aba-PH- Yenagoa-Otuoke-Yenagoa-Ughelli-Sapele-Benin-Agbor-Asaba-Onitsha-Benin-Ijebu
Ode- Ore-Sagamu-Lagos Seaports; and the Lagos-Kano:
Lagos-Ibadan-Ilorin-Minna-Kaduna-Kano.” Hence it can be seen that the project
touches at least Two Major States in the South East being Anambra (Onitsha) and
Abia State (Aba) respectively.
On his part, Senate President Dr. Abubakar
Bukola Saraki stated that the leadership of the National Assembly had already
met with the Presidency on the issue and that they had received assurances that
all parts of the country would benefit from the standard gauge rail
modernisation project of the Federal Government.

In conclusion, Senator Abaribe withdrew the
first prayer of the motion urging the Senate to suspend consideration of the
loan request until the correction of the oversight of the eastern parts of the
country. While the Second prayer on the motion paper seeking to invite the
Minister of Transport to appear before the relevant committee of the senate in
order to clear the air was passed.