President Muhammadu Buhari, is seeking approval from the legislators to borrow $5.851 billion to modernise the Nigerian railway and another $1.1 billion for rehabilitation of the Northeast.
Mr. Buhari, in a letter read at plenary on Wednesday by Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, said $5.851 billion of the loan would enable his government access the China-African Fund contained in the 2016-2018 external borrowing plan.
According to him, many African countries are scrambling to access the fund hence, the need for the lawmakers to hasten approval.
Dogara reads the President’s letter thus: “I wish to refer to my earlier letter with respect to the above subject and to inform the distinguished senate that the China Exim bank has approved our request for a loan to execute the Lagos-Kano railway modernisation project, Lagos-Ibadan segment for a sum of $1.231 billion,” the letter read.
“The China government has also informed us that the approval of the Lagos-Kano railway modernisation project, Kano-Kaduna segment and coastal railway project, the Lagos-Calabar segment are imminent.
“China Exim supported projects; Lagos-Kano modernisation projects, Lagos-Ibadan segment $1.231 billion; Lagos-Kano railway modernisation project, Kano-Kaduna segment $1.146 billion and coastal railway project, the Lagos-Calabar segment 3.474 billion, making a total of 5.851 billion.
“As you are aware the funds available under the China-African fund are limited and loan applications from all over Africa countries are funded based on first come, first serve and therefore there is an urgent need to sign these loans as soon as they are approved or we may lose out in the event that we delay in signing the loan agreement.
“These loans form part of the overall money for the rail strategy. We are in the process of completing the concession of the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri line to immediately link the eastern part of the nation.
“We fully intend to source further concessioning funding to ultimately upgrade this critical line to high speed standard gauge. These projects form the overall plan to resuscitate the rail transport across the nation and thereby drive inclusive growth.”
In a similar letter read by Senate President Bukola Saraki, President Buhari, also said $1.1 billion will be borrowed from the World Bank.
According to him, this would be directed towards rehabilitation of the North-East zone as well as other social security programmes.