Buhari Queries Finance Ministry Over Diversion Of $1bn Rail Project Loan

Buhari mmThe diversion of foreign loans obtained for rail projects in the country under the watch of former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has earned the Ministry of Finance a query from President Muhammed Buhari.

The president’s query followed an instance of the diversion of a substantial part of the loan of USD1.005 billion from the Chinese Exim Bank, meant for the construction of a standard gauge rail line linking Lagos and Kano States to somewhere else.

This was even as the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport, Alhaji Mohammed Bashar, informed President Buhari that only $400 million of the loan is left.

The perm sec made the revelation during a presentation of his ministry’s activities to the president on Monday.

He also briefed the President on some challenges facing the transport and maritime sectors such as encroachment on railway land, lack of security on inland waterways and some vague agreements between the Nigeria Ports Authority and ports concessionaires.

In his response, President Buhari was said to have expressed disappointment that foreign loans obtained in line with signed agreements were moved from one project to another.

“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”, he warned.

He also regretted that government had, over the years, failed to meet its counterpart funding obligation on some projects, leading to such projects being left uncompleted or abandoned.

The president added that there was a clear need to streamline, harmonize, and prioritize on-going projects in the transportation sector.