On Monday, the Ministry of Budget and National Planning received evidence that the Calabar-Lagos rail line project was indeed included in the controversial 2016 budget and it was defended before the National Assembly.
It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had on Saturday, refused to assent to the budget following the discovery of inconsistencies and changes in the budget.
The presidency has since forwarded details of the discovery to the National Assembly for reworking and correction.
However, the National Assembly insists that they are not to blame, noting that the executive failed to include the contentious areas in the original budget.
One of the evidence received by the ministry of budget and national planning reads in part that: “The caostal Railway project-Lagos-Calabar of which a provisiona sum of N60, 000,000,000 (sixty billion naira only) was proposed, was completely omitted even though it was defended before both Houses of the National Assembly. This item is on page 24 of the attached (Appendix 1) main ministry’s 2016 proposal with Sub Activity Code No. 184.108.40.206.”
“The Hon. Minister of Transportation had extensive official and private discussions with both Chairman of Senate Committee on Land Transport and that of the House at various fora. He also had discussion with the Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation on same. This is apart from the defence before the various committees during the budget discussion.”
“In the passed 2016 budget, it is pertinent to note that the Lagos-Kano Rail line which was N60,000,000,000 in the proposal, was increased to N92,000,000,000. Where did the National Assembly get the sum of N32,000,000,000 which was added to this project, if it is a fact that the Ministry of Transportation never budgeted for the Lagos-CalabarCoastal Rail Line, where did the National Assembly get the sum of N12.5 billion allocated to aviation projects which were never budgeted for?”
“Observation of the detailed budget passed by the National assembly is that various new projects not solicited for by the ministry were inserted, relevant ones removed, reduce or increased. Foremost in the reduction is the Idu-Kaduna Rail Project scheduled for completion in June. It was reduced by N8.7 billion and an increase on Lagos-Kano Rail project by N32 billion.”
Speaking on the development, a top government official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, stated that: “The Calabar-Lagos rail line was in the original budget sent to the Ministry of Budget and National Planning but there was an omission in the collation process.”
“Before the budget defence, the omission was corrected. And 50 copies of the amended budget were submitted to the Clerk to the Senate on February 2, 2016.”
“The same 50 amended copies containing the Calabar-Lagos rail line were received, signed and acknowledged by the Clerk to the House of Representatives on February 11, 2016.”
“After the submission, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, had audience with Ashafa, Goje and the House Committee members to explain everything.”