By Gabriel Enogholase
BENIN—AS controversy continues to trail the Lagos-Calabar rail project, a member of the House of Representatives Committee on Transport, Mr. Ehiozuwa Agbonnayima, has said that Minister for Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, lied when he claimed that the N100 billion Lagos-Calabar rail project was in the budget presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He, therefore, called on the executive to own up and accept responsibility for the mix-up and stop blackmailing the National Assembly, adding that no provision was made for the project in the first and second budgets presented to the National Assembly.
He said: “First and foremost, the N100 billion for the Lagos – Calabar rail project which the Minister of Transportation claimed was in the budget, was never in the budget presented by President Buhari to both chambers of the National Assembly when they had a joint session.
“I can also tell you that when the budget was later brought back after the rumoured paddling, it was never in that second budget that was brought to the National Assembly. Let it be on record, yes, that there was a time the Minister wrote a letter to the National Assembly, not even to the entire National Assembly but to the Committee on Transport which I belong to on the issue,” adding that such a move does not remove the fact that the project was not included in the national budget.
The lawmaker, who represents Ikpoba-Okha/Egor federal constituency of Edo State, noted that accusing the National Assembly of removing the project from the national budget amounted to inciting Nigerians against members of the National Assembly.
“It was shocking to read on the pages of newspaper that N100 billion was removed from the 2016 budget. This is just another way of blackmailing the National Assembly. It is high time we stopped this blame game,” he said.