…Denies trip to S/Africa
BY DANIEL IDONOR
ABUJA – AS earlier promised in his nationwide broadcast on Saturday, President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, formally launched 1,100 buses under the mass transit scheme, describing it as a “unique and important programme.”
Speaking during the launch, the President said the Federal Government did not buy a single bus, but only subsidized the mass transit programme, saying there was need to entrench a mass transit culture with a view to ensuring its sustainability.
The President denied insinuations, especially on social media, that he had led a large delegation to South Africa on official visit, saying he didn’t travel out of Abuja yesterday, much less out of Nigeria.
According to him, the three tiers of government were collaborating with the Central Bank and transporters to bring down fares, which went up astronomically in response to the removal of oil subsidy.
Explaining why none of the governors was present at the event, Jonathan said the governors were expected to stay back at home to ensure maintenance of law and order as the Chief Security Officers of their respective states.
He said: “Today, we are not commissioning new buses, we are launching mass transit programme for Nigerians. The Federal Government is involved, the state governments are involved, the local governments are involved, the Central Bank is involved, some commercial banks are involved and of course, the transport unions are also involved, including those who manufacture and import mass transit buses.
“We have noticed that in this country, we don’t have a mass transit culture. We are working with the unions to bring fares down. Let me say here that the federal government is not buying a single bus, we are subsidising the mass transit sector to reduce fares.”
“It is not sustainable to buy buses. “Let me also assure all Nigerians that this government will not inflict pains on Nigerians”, the President promised.
President Jonathan also assured that the ministry of transport will come up with mass transit programme for our waterways.
Speaking earlier, the Minister of Trade and Investments, Olusegun Aganga assured the nation of a sustainable and robust mass transit programme.
He was optimism that following some manufacturers of mass transit buses who were already expressing interest in building plants in Nigeria, the process would generate thousands of jobs.
Also, President of the NURTW, Alhaji Nojeem Yasin said the union supported the programme as away of empowering his members and to force down transport fares.
The brief event was witnessed by ministers, top government officials and captains of industry.