People tend to forget continuum in governance! Supporters of former President Goodluck Jonathan have been giving the credit of the Abuja-Kaduna rail project to him. It was commissioned yesterday by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Here is the historical timeline on the project:
? The Modernisation programme commenced in 2006, with the signing of agreement between Nigeria and the CCECC for construction of a new standard gauge rail network Lagos-Kanoand Port Harcourt – Maiduguri and the Lagos Calabar lines to replace the existing narrow guage lines, at a cost of $8.3 billion, over a 25- year period.
? The counterpart funding was faulty on the part of Nigeria, while it contravened the law.
? The government of late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua discovered that the contract did not follow due process and that the project was inflated.
? Yar’Adua visited China and re-negotiated and re-scoped the entire project. Partners agreed to first, get the services back by rehabilitating the two narrow guage lines first, then construct the standard guage lines thereafter. The standard guage project was segmented and the Abuja -Kaduna component was added. The completion date of rehabilitation of Lagos-Kano and Port Harcourt-Maiduguri lines was December 2011…
? Rehabilitation work started while a Chinese delegation came to Nigeria to commence on-site assessment and preparatory work on first phase of the now segmented standard gauge Abuja-Kaduna line in July 2008 and to finalise it in 2009. When Yar Adua died, Jonathan rescoped the Lagos-Calabar line by adding Otuoke to it.
? Contract for the Abuja-Kaduna standard rail project was awarded in 2010 but the actual construction did not start till 2011. It is an 874 million dollar project with the Exim Bank of China’s facility of $500 million, while Nigeria was to pay the rest. The Project was scheduled for completion in 2014.
? But Jonathan’s administration reneged on counterpart funding of the project, leading to extension of completion period. It was typical of the Jonathan’s government. Almost all capital projects inherited by the administration were not adequately funded in spite of their strategic importance to the nation, and in spite of the large amount of monies Nigeria made from the high price of crude oil throughout his regime.
? Jonathan did not initiate the project, not to talk of completing it. He indeed, inherited it and had the opportunity of completion to take the glory, but he blew the opportunity.
? When Buhari came in 2015, there were outstanding payments which stalled the project. Buhari paid off and worked commenced and is now completed due largely to the seriousness Buhari attached to it.
? The Second phase of betrayal of terms of agreement befell the Rail Modernisation project, Lagos-Ibadan dual track standard gauge line. The contract was awarded in 2012 and to be completed in 2015…
? Federal Executive Council on July 18th, 2012 approved the sum of $1.457 billion as the project contract sum on 36 months completion period. The project was abandoned by Jonathan after 13 billion naira was appropriated in the 2012, 2013 and 2014 budgets with nothing to show for the sums.