September 30, 2020

Prevail on FG to stop $1.9billion rail project to Niger Republic, Ortom urges NASS


Governor Samuel Ortom

Commends Reps for stepping down Water Resources Bill

Samuel Ortom

By Peter Duru – Makurdi

Governor Samuel Ortom has urged the National Assembly to prevail on the federal government to drop its plans to build a rail line from Nigeria to Niger Republic at the cost of $1.9billion.

The Governor insisted that the rail project to the neighbouring country was of no economic value to Nigeria advising that the fund should be channeled to rail projects in parts of the country.

The Governor who spoke yesterday at the groundbreaking ceremony of Benue State Geographic Information Service, BENGIS, at the State Ministry of Lands, Survey, and Solid Minerals in Makurdi said it was a duty the lawmakers owed Nigerian who were disenchanted with the development.

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He particularly urged the chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Water Resources, Hon. Sada Soli to work with other colleagues to advise the Federal Government on the matter appropriately rather than deriding him over his stance on the National Water Resources Bill.

He said, “the National Assembly should advise the Federal Government not to take money to execute a project that will lead a rail line to Niger Republic.

“The rail line in Benue is not working the same for most other parts of the country. What is the economic benefit of a rail line from Nigeria to Niger? Why do we have to take $1.9billion to make a rail line to Niger? That sum is a lot of money that could turn around the rail transportation system in the country and it should be used for that purpose and not for the Niger Republic.”

The Governor who had earlier paid a condolence visit to elder statesman Wantaregh Paul Unongo in Makurdi over the death of his wife also commended the Speaker of the House of Representatives and members for listening to the yearnings of Nigerians by stepping down deliberations on the controversial Water Resources Bill to allow for proper documentation of the bill.

The Governor said, “the water bill as proposed has no place whatsoever in Nigeria as at today. It is a plan to reintroduce Ruga and I keep saying it.

“You cannot bring a law with a hidden agenda and you think you can impose it on the people; we will certainly resist it. And we will tell our members in the House to stand with the Speaker to ensure that that kind of bill does not come-forth.

“Now that they have reverted it to going through the normal channel if they want they can reintroduce it, we will go to the public hearing.

“But the question everyone is asking is if they are saying there is nothing in the bill, why are they then amending the existing law that has been there for a long time?

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“I will continue to stand for the truth no matter the aspersion anyone tries to cast on me.

“We must know that democracy gives people the opportunity to air their views and so, you cannot cage the people not to make comments on issues. And because we have rivers Benue and Katsina-Ala we are a major stakeholder and are directly affected by the water bill so I have the right to question anything I feel is not right.

“I must state that some of the policies of the federal government have made some of us become suspicious. We have seen cattle colony, Ruga, and open grazing camouflage coming into play. So, when you bring a bill that was thrown out by the 8th. Assembly, we must question it. I am speaking on behalf of the stakeholders of Benue. I am not the Governor of other states but Benue.

“Moreover the entire South-South, South East, South West and the Middle Belt as a whole came out to resist that bill warning that they would not accept it. So I congratulate the House of Representatives for what they have done.”