The Federal Government will probe the fuel scarcity which characterized the yuletide and ruined the celebration of most Nigerians, said President Muhammedu Buhari in his New Year message.
The President blamed blackmailers for the fuel scarcity, saying they chose to use the festive period to inflict hardship on Nigerians across the country.
“The consequence was that not many could travel and the few who did had to pay exorbitant transport fares. This is unacceptable given that NNPC had taken measures to ensure availability at all depots. I am determined to get to the root of this collective blackmail of all Nigerians and ensure that whichever groups are behind this manipulated hardship will be prevented from doing so again,” said President Buhari.
He reassured Nigerians that the administration remains committed to its “change mantra”, but stressed the need for attitudinal change in order to reverse the trend of poverty in the country.
“We are going to make significant in-roads in advancing road, rail and power projects across the country.
“The Ministry of Power, Works and Housing is one of the drivers of this Government’s commitment to renew and increase Nigeria’s stock of infrastructure in order to achieve global economic competitiveness as targeted under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan,” the president further stated.
According to him, construction work is about to commence on Lagos-Kano Standard Gauge Railway and the line which is expected to ferry two million passengers per year and five million tons of cargo annually will get to Ibadan from Lagos by the end of 2019.
President Buhari also revealed that construction of Kano – Kaduna rail line will begin this year and expected to reach Kaduna in 2019.
He disclosed, “At the same time I have approved and negotiations will be concluded in the first part of this year for the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri line covering Aba, Owerri, Umuahia, Enugu, Awka, Abakaliki, Makurdi, Lafia, Jos, Bauchi, Gombe, Yola and Damaturu. The Abuja to Itakpe line will go through Baro and terminate in Warri with construction of a new seaport at Warri.
“Negotiations are also advanced for the construction of other railway lines, firstly from Kano to Maradi in Niger Republic passing through Kazaure, Daura, Katsina, Jibia to Maradi.
“Secondly, Lagos to Calabar the “Coastal Rail” through Ore, Benin, Agbor, Asaba, Onitsha, Sapele, Ughelli, Warri, Yenagoa, Otuoke, Port Harcourt, Aba, Uyo and Calabar. In the next few years, all these Nigerian cities will be linked by functional modern rail systems, giving enormous boost to the social and economic life of our people.”
Dr Boniface Chizea, Managing Consultant, BIC Consultancy Services Limited told Business Hallmark that the construction of these railways would go a long way in boosting the economy as they would enable goods produced in the inter-lands to easily find the ways to urban centres.
He added that the president’s speech was targeted at justifying his tenure.
Chizea maintained the administration’s resolve to improve infrastructure in the country is critical to success of President Buhari’s government.
The president also stated that his government will this year embarked on rapid intervention in road repairs to cover all the geo-political zones.
He urged Nigerians to desist from hate speeches as the country moves towards 2019. “As the electioneering season approaches politicians must avoid exploiting ethnicity and religion by linking ethnicity with religion and religion with politics. Such must be avoided at all costs if we are to live in harmony,” the president emphasized.
He reiterated government determination to continue to guarantee security of lives and properties and tackle the increasing spate of kidnapping across the country.