President Muhammadu Buhari has queried the Federal Ministry of Finance on why foreign loans meant for major rail projects found their way to other areas.
This may not be an allegation of stealing but violation of due process.
President Buhari was responding to a presentation by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport, Mohammed Bashar when he expressed disappointment on how foreign loans obtained for specific projects with documented agreements were diverted from one project to another.
A statement by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu quoted the President as saying “I hope that due process was followed before such diversions were carried out. Taking money from one project to another has to be done properly,”
The specific instance that drew the president’s attention was movement of a major part of a $1 billion loan from the Chinese Exim Bank, obtained in 2012, for the construction of standard guage rail line linking Lagos to Kano but was diverted elsewhere.
The Permanent Secretary had informed the President that only USD 400 million of that loan remained with the Ministry of Finance.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry also briefed the President on other challenges facing the transport and maritime sectors such as encroachment on railway land, lack of security on inland waterways and the confused nature of agreements between the Nigeria Ports Authority and ports concessionaires.
The President regretted that government had, over the years, failed to meet its counter-part funding obligation on some projects, leading to such projects being left uncompleted or abandoned.
He added that there was a clear need to streamline, harmonize, and prioritize on-going projects in the transportation sector.