President Muhammadu Buhari has called for an explanation from the Ministry of Finance on the foreign loans obtained for rail projects but diverted to other purposes under the tenure of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as Finance Minister and Coordinating Minister of the Economy.
At the end of the presentation of a report on the Ministry of Transport by the Permanent Secretary, Alhaji Mohammed Bashar at the State House yesterday, President Buhari said it was disappointing to find out that foreign loans obtained in line with signed agreements were moved from one project to another.
He said: “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 President had reacted to the specific instance of the diversion of a substantial part of the loan of $1.005billion from the Chinese Exim Bank obtained for the construction of a standard gauge rail line linking Lagos to Kano but was allegedly moved elsewhere.
Bashar had informed the President that only $400million of that loan remained with the Ministry of Finance.
The President regretted that government had over the years, failed to meet its counterpart-funding obligation on some projects, leading to such projects being either uncompleted or abandoned.
He added that there was need to streamline, harmonise and prioritise ongoing projects in the transportation sector.
The Permanent Secretary also briefed the President on other challenges facing the transport and maritime sectors such as encroachment on railway lands, lack of security on inland waterways and the confused nature of agreements between the Nigeria Ports Authority and ports concessionaires.

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