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Railway projects key to 2016 budget, says Odigie-Oyegun


• Buhari urged to ensure transparent implementation
• ‘Late passage of document stunts economic growth’

The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun has said the execution of railway projects remains one of the priorities for the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.

Speaking yesterday at a dinner hosted in his honour by Saint Patrick’s College (SPC) Asaba Old Boys Association (Abuja Branch), he recalled that 30 per cent of the 2016 votes were committed to capital projects.

Odigie-Oyegun, an alumnus, identified the railway projects as one of the critical infrastructural focuses of the administration just as he solicited patience and cooperation of Nigerians in ongoing efforts to salvage the country from its current economic quagmire.

“As at today, the economy is in the process of being reflated; meaning that money is being put into the system. Contractors are being mobilised to go back to work. New contracts will be awarded. The railway will be one of the very first priorities. We will for the first time, go from Kano to Lagos through Benin City all the way to Calabar by rail.”

He said in the coming months, the safety net created by the administration to cater for the poorest and vulnerable Nigerians and other economic initiatives aimed at diversifying and boosting the economy would be implemented.

Meanwhile, a group, the League of National Patriots, has said that the recent impasse between National Assembly and the Presidency over the 2016 budget should be seen as a welcome development if truly it was borne out of the determination of the present administration to fight corruption and mismanagement.

Speaking at a workshop in Abuja, the National Coordinator of the group, Abdulkareem Ikharo, lauded President Muhammadu Buhari “for his courage and refusal to sign the altered and padded budget which available facts have clearly shown were distorted for selfish motives.”

According to him, Nigerians are now “experiencing a better side of true democracy as a result of the formidable opposition being posed by the PDP especially at the National Assembly, noting that the opposition being presented by the PDP is good for good governance as long as it remains healthy and is borne out of nationalistic motives.

He, however, called on the President to “do everything possible to ensure an immediate, judicious and transparent implementation of the signed budget, as the prolonged delay in resolving issues around the bill had already caused the negative effects on the nation’s economy and untold hardship to the people.”

In the same vein, the Catholic Bishop of Abeokuta Diocese, Most Rev. Peter Kayode Odetoyinbo has urged strict implementation of the budget, saying Nigerians’ expectations were high.

The cleric, who spoke yesterday at a service to mark the 50th edition of the World Communications Day with the theme, “Communication and Mercy: A fruitful Encounter” in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, noted that with the way the budget was well scrutinised by both the legislature and the executive arms of government, Nigerians expected “nothing less than a better nation at the end of the day.

Also, economic analysts have called on government to reverse the trend of late passage of the yearly budgets, stressing that the practice was posing serious dangers to economic growth, increasing poverty among the people as well as discouraging foreign direct investments (FDIs).

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