By Yakubu Dogara

The Ministry of Transport is one of the Ministries that play very significant role in the economic development of our nation. The Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), a parastatal under the Ministry of Transport oversees the rail transportation system in the country.

No one doubts the benefits of rail transportation including but not limited to the following: Rail transportation reduces roadway congestion, fuel consumption (because it’s three times more fuel efficient than trucks) and harmful emissions, improving passenger vehicle safety and the environment. A vibrant, effective and efficient national rail system also paves the way for a healthy flow of commerce, while decreasing carbon emissions. Rail transportation is the most environmentally friendly form of surface transportation because it cuts Greenhouse gas emission by two-thirds or more for every ton of freight that moves one mile by rail instead of by truck.

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Rail Transportation has the additional benefit of improved safety by drastically reducing Highway congestion and gridlock. Just one train can take more than 280 trucks off our nation’s highway thereby assuring the longevity of our highways. Rail transportation also provides greater employment for both skilled and unskilled labour in addition to massive economic activities that always thrives along railway corridor. We should never fall victims of the fatal error or illusion that we can develop our trade, industry and commerce without a functional railways. An efficient railway transport system will no doubt translate into rapid economic growth which will invariably rob off positively on our Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

This Ad-hoc Committee cannot but discharge its mandate with the urgency it deserves in view of Billions of US dollars of borrowed money sunk into the railways over these years without any commensurate result. The Ad-Hoc Committee must go to work fully aware that it has the mandate of the House and indeed Nigerians who hold in their hands broken faith and promises of an efficient and effective railways to determine whether the process of bidding for the contracts adhered to the stipulations of our laws, especially as contained in the Public Procurement Act, (2007).

​The Ad-Hoc  Committee is also expected to ascertain if the contractors that won the contracts were qualified core players in the rail sub sector and further determine if the bid process conformed with laid down procedures and processes.

It is hoped that this Investigative Hearing would provide the needed opportunity for parliament to gather useful information from stakeholders and the concerned public which, ultimately, will lead to good legislation, enhanced policy content and good governance devoid of corruption and waste.  The quality of this inquiry and the Ad- Hoc Committee’s recommendations is expected to aid the National Assembly in plugging loopholes in existing laws or in enacting better laws. Indeed, as observed by Prof Woodrow Wilson, long before he became President of the United States of America, in his Congressional Government: “It is the proper duty of a representative body to look diligently into every affair of government and to talk much about what it sees. It is meant to be the eyes and the voice, and to embody the wisdom and will of its constituents. Unless Congress have and use every means of acquainting itself with the acts and disposition of the administrative agents of the government, the country must remain in embarrassing crippling ignorance of the very affairs which it is most important that it should understand and direct.”

In line with the anti-corruption stance of the present APC Government and the Legislative Agenda of the House, this Ad-hoc Committee must ensure that the billions of US dollars spent on the contracts for Rehabilitation and Maintenance of Rail Tracks, Construction of Standard Gauges, Bridges, Procurement of Locomotive Wagons and Coaches from 2010 – 2014, answers to the value for money expectations of Nigerians. There must be no sacred cows and the Ad-Hoc Committee must not take prisoners by not only calling a spade a spade but by also exposing corruption in the process and all those who have misappropriated or misapplied railways funds or assets.

In line with our commitment to support the present administration in the ongoing war against corruption, the Ad- Hoc Committee must not fail to utilize its powers under S. 89(d) of the 1999 Constitution, should any person fail or refuse to respond to its summons. In such cases, referral should be made to the House to cause a bench warrant to be issued against them so that such person(s) who are still in deep slumber may know that change has come to Nigeria. The Constitution empowers us to compel the attendance of any person or authority in Nigeria no matter how highlyplaced, a very potent tool. I assure you this time around no such person(s) will have a President to run to for a cover or protection from appearing before you to answer questions regarding allegations of corruption against him.We must note, however that this investigation is not a witch hunt of any person. Indeed, we have no scores to settle with anybody, the only scores we have to settle is against corruption, inefficiency or waste in administration of Funds belonging to Nigerians. We are only performing our sacred constitutional duties.

 

Permit me to implore all our invited guests and stakeholders to utilize the opportunity offered by this hearing to make incisive, constructive and insightful submissions that will guide the Ad-Hoc Committee in proffering recommendations that will enhance qualitative development of the nation’s railway system and improve our laws.

Let me remind us that while posterity will always remember us for the sacrifices and labour of love for our dear nation, harsh judgment awaits us for any actions inimical to the common good. Therefore, to those who have taken the pains to gather here to make useful contributions, we salute your courage and patriotism and assure you that your gathering is not in vain as your contributions will be fully utilized.

 

Dogara, Speaker, House of Representatives, recently made this remark to declare open an investigative hearing on railways rehabilitation in Nigeria between 2010 and 2015.

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