Minister of Transportationand former Governor of Rivers State, Chief Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, yesterday, disclosed that the administration has concluded plans to award the contract for the construction of the Lagos-Ibadan railway project.Chief Amaechi, who said this while speaking at the one year memoriallecture in honour of Human Rights Activist and former General Secretary of Alliance for Credible Election, ACE-Nigeria, late Comrade Emma Ezeazu, in Abuja, said contracts for Kano-Kaduna and Calabar-Port Harcourt railway project would also be signed before the end of this week.
The memorial lecture with theme; Advancing the Frontiers of Progressive Governance, was organised by Emma Ezeazu Mandate Group.Meanwhile, the former governor, while giving reasons why he dumped his former Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to pitch tent with the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, explained that he left the then ruling party because he was made an orphan. According to him, “The President agenda is not just to recover loots.We are recovering as much as we can. But the president is determined to create employment. That is why you can see his focus. In transportation, from Kaduna to Abuja, we have created over 700 workforce. What did I do? I said all the villages or those communities along the route; I said they should give themlevel six down. March on that railway.
“Their job is to march on that railway from the beginning to the end to see there was no security breach. The rest of applicants will go online to apply for the jobs. They said if we publish people will die the way it happened during immigration recruitment exercise and they will say Amaechi should resign (thunderous laughters)
The President called a meeting last week and requested too be briefed on what we are doing in terms of the railway. This year, we will start Lagos-Ibadan, railway project. You know the difference between us and the rest, we will not say go and start we will look for counterpart funding.“We will bring our counterpart fund as poor as the country is now and give to the Chinese because their money is already in their bank account. It is for us to bring our own. If we bring our own they bring their own to make sure there is no delay, we will bring all our own to give them and say go and start work.“If that happened, in two years, Lagos-Ibadan will be ready. Tomorrow I will sign the contracts for Calabar-Port Harcourt railwayproject. Before the week runs out, I will sign Kano-Kduna. That is what we are doing. This is to show you that we are moving away from the corruption economy to production economy.” Amaechi, while recalling the students’ union activities were eventful during their time when the late Comrade Emma Ezeazu was President of National association of Nigerian Students, NANS, lamented that student union has drifted to the lowest ebb.According to him, “Recall 1983 to 1987 there were no speeches, there were actions. I reminded President Muhammadu Buhari and I said student when you were Head of State I was among those who used to sing all sorts of things about him because there were demonstrations in all the schools everyday.“
Then, they were closing universitydown everyday because we are notaddressing give us hostels, give us water, give us rive, we are addressing national issues and the closure of schools were becausewe will not agree to any national issue we thought was against the people. Now, NANS president has a convoy and has SAs, and his officeis located in the villa.”On the dying agitation for good governance, he said, “When I listen to all of you I laugh, I laugh because the poor has lost…either thoroughly beaten by the ruling class has lost the ability to resist. So, those resisting now is no longer the poor, it is the ruling class resisting themselves.”
Responding to a remarks by the guest lecturer, Professor Chidi Odinkalu, the minister said, “He made analysis now and I laughed when he talked about nomadism inthe politic of Nigeria and I laughed. While I laughed is that heknew little or nothing of what was going on. And I want to be put on record, I was made orphan including oil bloc.“And I said no, Nigeria was going under and I won’t continue to support this government. And I have to move, I was kept on the table for discussions, not one meeting, not two or three meetings. I was taken out of the country for meetings for me to remain in PDP. I was made orphanthat when you see it you will say, what is my business with this Nigeria?“But at that time, it was between me my conscience and the Nigerian country. I could have taken those offers. I was the beautiful bride. If you remember one of the speeches I made as governor at the Freedom Park, and I said if you people continue to look at us, we will steal everything. And there will be nothing left for you to eat. That until you begin to stone us. There will be no stop to stealing. You can’t stop to stealing.”
On the issue of transparent, he said “The system built for you to betransparent. When you are not transparent does not mean the system is not there. It means that you just undermine the system. There is a contract you will award, the system said no; advertise it for everybody to bid.“That system is ridiculous. It will only offer you what is called singlesource. You will approach them and say you want single source and when they give you single source and because you want to break the rule of law no one will even apply and you just say contract come and do this thing and nothing happened. Nothing happened because the President of the country does not want anything to happen.”
In his lecture, the Director General of Electoral Institute, Professor Chidi Odinkalu blamed the corruption and underdevelopment of the country to the consequences of the Structural Adjustment Programme, SAP, introduced by the President Ibrahim Babangida’s administration in 1986.Prof. Odinkalu regretted that Nigeria never recovered from the SAP, which according top him led to wreck unprecedented havoc on the economy, with the collapses of the manufacturing sector of the economy.He said, every other countries thatwere at par with Nigeria then have left us behind because of the adjustment.