Senate demands Eastern rail project in 2018 budget

*Ita��s about equity, fairness, equity – Ekweremadu
*Summons minister over mass failure in WAEC
By Ignatius Okorocha
The Senate has kicked against the abandonment of work on the Eastern rail lines and demanded that the project should be included in the 2018 budget.
It also charged the Executive arm of government to restore regular services on the route.
For equity and better rail service in the country, the Upper House on Thursday asked the Federal Government to include both the Eastern and North West rail lines in the on-going railway standardisation programme and reflect same in the 2018 Appropriation Bill for implementation.
The lawmakers further urged the government to include the Eastern rail lines as one of the beneficiaries of the $6.8billion loan approved for the standardisation and modernisation of the railways.
These resolutions were based a motion titled: a�?The urgent need to include the Eastern rail lines in the Nigerian Railway Development Projecta�?, sponsored by Senator Victor Umeh (APGA, Anambra Central) during plenary in Abuja.
While leading the debate on the motion, Senator Umeh said that a�?inclusiveness is the essence of governance in a democracy which is further buttressed by the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) in Section 15 sub-sections 3(a) and 4a�?.
According to him, the Eastern narrow-guage rail lines, originating from Port Harcourt in Rivers State through the South East zone to the North East are now in a deplorable condition, notwithstanding the governmenta��s renewed determination to resuscitate the railway transport system.
Umeh said: a�?At present, the Eastern rail lines are not in use and trains no longer ply these routes in moving people and goods in and out of the old Eastern region leading to decline in economic activities.
a�?The deplorable condition of the rail lines has increased the cost of transportation, commodities and job creation in Nigeriaa�?.
Senator Umeh said that the people of the South East and South-South zones would continue to feel neglected if the Eastern rail linesa�� out-dated narrow gauges are not converted to standard gauge rails.
The lawmaker, however, believes that the Senatea��s intervention in reviving the Eastern railways will foster sustainable socio-economic relationship with the people of the South East, South-South and other parts of the country, as well as promote national integration, boost the economy and give a sense of belonging to users of the Eastern rail lines
The Senate Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan (APC, Yobe North) and Senator James Manager (PDP, Delta South) recalled that the issue had been discussed by the Senate via a similar motion by Senator Enyinaya Abaribe (PDP-Abia South).
Senator Lawan said that President Muhammadu Buhari had begun the process of borrowing money to develop the Eastern rail lines and urged him to expedite action on the project which, he said, started from Port Harcourt through the South East to Maiduguri in Borno State.
The Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, lamented that the project had been on for over three years and urged President Buhari to ensure that it becomes a reality.
He said: a�?The issue is about fairness, equity; it’s about justice, and even development of the country. If you (Buhari) develop the country in a manner that the people of Eastern region will feel cheated, or feel that they are not getting enough of the development they are bound to continue to raise tension; it will continue to raise agitation because a man that is so badly treated will be unlikely interested in peacea�?.
Senator Chukwuka Utazi (PDP, Enugu North) lamented that the absence of functional rail system in the South has continued to have grave consequences on businesses.
Senator Adamu Aliero (APC, Kebbi Central) noted that the project, if done, would not only prolong the lifespan of roads along the rail lines, but contribute to the growth of the economy.
*Senate summons Education minister over mass failure in WAEC
And angered by the continued poor performance of Nigerian students in the West African Examination Council (WAEC), the Senate, has resolved to summon the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu and the Head, National Office of WAEC and other stakeholder to address the situation.
The minister is expected to appear before the Senate Committee on Education (Basic and Secondary) for interactive session on the causes of the recurring mass failure in the exam and recommend appropriate measures to overcoming the challenge.
The committee, chaired by Senator Aliyu Wamakko (APC, Sokoto North) was mandated to submit a comprehensive report to the Senate within one month for further action.
The Senate acted on a motion on the “Need to address recurring mass failure in West African Examination Council, WAECa�? sponsored by Senator Umaru Kurfi (APC, Katsina Central).
Senator Kurfi, who led the debate on the motion, noted that a�?there are established recurring cases of mass failure of West African Examination Council results in the country since 2009 or thereabout which is embarrassing to the nation and prejudicial to the interest of secondary school students and parents.a�?
He said that the a�?WAEC failure rates continued to increase each year as evidence of failure of measures taken, if any, by the education authorities over the yearsa�?.
The lawmaker expressed worry that a�?in both 2009 and 2010 WAEC, only 25.99 and 24.94 per cent respectively passed with five credits including Mathematics and English Language, while the others constituting 70 per cent, faileda�?.
Kurfi was also disturbed that a�?in 2011 May/June WAEC, only 649, 159 of the 1, 672, 224 candidates who wrote the examinations which represents just 38.81 per cent got five credits and above including in the core subjects of Mathematics and English Language.a�?
He added that a�?in 2013 WAEC, only 29.17 per cent candidates passed the November/December WAEC examinations while 70 per cent failed.a�?
The lawmaker was also alarmed that a�?in both 2017 and January/February 2018 private examinations, only 17.13 per cent candidates passed with five credits, including Mathematics and English Language, respectively, while the remaining over 70 per cent candidates faileda�?.
In their contributions, Senator Barau Jibrin (APC, Kano North), Emmanuel Paulker (PDP, Bayelsa Central) and Biodun Olujimi (PDP, Ekiti South), sought the urgent intervention of all stakeholders on the problem.
The Senate president, Dr. Bukola Saraki, called on the stakeholders, to act swiftly on the matter.

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