By Gift Chapi Odekina
A members of the House of Representatives on Thursday called for special attention on the Lagos-Calabar Coastal line in the 2022 Appropriation Bill.
Leading the debate on the general principles of the bill with particular reference to this project was the chairman House Services Committee, Hon. Tasir Olawale Raji, representing Epe Federal Constituency of Lagos State.
Hon. Raji in his argument commenced the President for voting money for rail infrastructure in the new budget, just as he hailed the leadership of the 9th House for remaining steadfast in its resolve to sustain the January –December budget calendar.
The lawmaker was speaking in support of the bill before the House, noting that the timely presentation of the estimates by the executive was a step in the right direction.
“Let me start by commending the Federal Government for the timely presentation of the 2022 budget. These will no doubt enable us to keep to our promise of the passage of the National Budget before the end of every – year.
“Mr. Speaker, I commend you and my colleagues in keeping to this promise since the beginning of this 9 Assembly.
“I commend the Federal Government for the giant stride recorded in infrastructural development particularly in Rail transportation sector. The completion of the Lagos-Ibadan, Abuja-Kaduna and the Itakpe-Ajaokuta rail lines is highly commendable.
“Mr. President promised in his budget speech that the Calabar-Lagos coastal line which is expected to connect the Southern and Eastern States of the country will soon commence.
“I urge Mr. President to prioritize this project and ensure completion possibly before the end of the tenure of this administration,” he said.
He also called on the House to prevail on the executive to fast track the completion of Omotosho-Epe-Ajah power project in Lagos State, arguing that it is for the benefit of the region and other States on the transmission corridor.
“Mr. President also spoke about progress being made on several power generation, transmission and distribution projects. While this is commendable, I urge the Committee on Power to work with the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) to ensure speedy completion of the Omotosho-Epe-Ajah power project which commenced in 2012 and has remained uncompleted nine (9) years after the award of the contract
He also called for the need to scrutinise the liberty enjoyed by the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), adding that it is necessary to avert revenue leakages.
“While lamenting the poor performance of oil revenue relative to the budget, Mr. President attributed the poor performance largely to the shortfall in production as well as significant cost recovery by NNPC to cover the shortfall between its cost of importing petrol and the pump price.
“The freedom presently enjoyed by NNPC to determine cost of importing petrol and deducting same from the country’s oil revenue account has been a source of concern to Nigerians. I recommend that this should be scrutinised to avoid revenue leakages.
“Finally, Mr. Speaker, the 2022 budget is on an exchange rate of 8410.15 per US Dollar ($). This is a clear official devaluation of the Naira (§). This is bound to further impoverish Nigerians.
“Nigeria is an import dependent economy and devaluation of our currency over the years has not benefitted our people in any way. It has led to high rate of inflation, drastic reduction in the purchasing power of the citizens, increased cost of doing business, corruption and brain drain particularly among our highly | skilled professionals. Rather than this continued devaluation of our currency, | recommend that efforts should be geared towards strengthening of the Naira,” Hon. Raji submitted