President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to deal with those responsible for the fuel scarcity that inflicted severe hardship on Nigerians, especially during the yuletide.
Buhari promised to probe the development, which he said was a “blackmail of all Nigerians,” and forestall future manipulation that could inflict hardship on citizens.
“I am saddened to acknowledge that, for many, this Christmas and New Year holidays have been anything but merry and happy. Instead of showing love, companionship and charity, some of our compatriots chose this period to inflict severe hardship on us all by creating unnecessary fuel scarcity across the country,” he said.
”The consequence was that not many could travel and the few who did had to pay exorbitant transport fares. This is unacceptable given that NNPC had taken measures to ensure availability at all depots.”
President Buhari, in his 2018 new year address to Nigerians, said he was determined to get to the root of the matter and “ensure that whichever groups are behind this manipulated hardship will be prevented from doing so again.”
The President assured that unpatriotic actions would not divert government’s change agenda for Nigerians and from the course it had set for itself.
“Our government’s watchword and policy thrust is “Change.” We must change our way of doing things or we will stagnate and be left behind in the race to lift our people out of poverty and into prosperity.
“My address to fellow Nigerians this morning is devoted mainly to informing you about the intense efforts this Administration is putting to address our country’s huge infrastructural deficit.
We are going to make significant in-roads in advancing road, rail and power projects across the country.
“The Ministry of Power, Works and Housing is one of the drivers of this Government’s commitment to renew and increase Nigeria’s stock of infrastructure in order to achieve global economic competitiveness as targeted under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.”
On Railways, the President said the government has already set ambitious targets with the Lagos-Kano Standard Gauge Railway already in construction stage.
He said the line should reach Ibadan from Lagos by the end of 2019 and will carry two million passengers per year and five million tons of cargo will be transported every year giving a substantial boost to the country’s economy.
Further, President Buhari said construction of the Kano – Kaduna segment is expected to commence this year and reach Kaduna by the end of 2019.
“By the end of 2021 the two ends will be joined so that we will have standard gauge railway across the main North-South trading route.
The Abuja – Kaduna route will be boosted by additional rolling stock next Thursday and will be able to handle one million commuters annually.
“At the same time I have approved and negotiations will be concluded in the first part of this year for the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri line covering Aba, Owerri, Umuahia, Enugu, Awka, Abakaliki, Makurdi, Lafia, Jos, Bauchi, Gombe, Yola and Damaturu. The Abuja to Itakpe line will go through Baro and terminate in Warri with construction of a new seaport at Warri.”
The President said negotiations are also advanced for the construction of other railway lines, first from Kano to Maradi in Niger Republic passing through Kazaure, Daura, Katsina, Jibia to Maradi.
”Secondly, Lagos to Calabar the “Coastal Rail” through Ore, Benin, Agbor, Asaba, Onitsha, Sapele, Ughelli, Warri, Yenagoa, Otuoke, Port Harcourt, Aba, Uyo and Calabar. In the next few years, all these Nigerian cities will be linked by functional modern rail systems, giving enormous boost to the social and economic life of our people.”
The train service, he explained, would stimulate economic activities in the federal capital and provide residents with an efficient and safe transportation system. “Twelve railway sub-stations around the capital over a 45.2 kilometre route will serve as a catalyst and a pull factor to the economy of the area. The Light Rail System will reduce traffic congestion and carbon emission in line with the Administration’s policy on climate change.
“Management of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) has been reconstituted and has been charged with a 12 week rapid intervention in road repairs to cover all the geo-political zones. Government is undertaking repairs and maintenance of 44 roads within the six geo-political zones.
He said twenty-five major highways would be funded under the N100b SUKUK facility. Each geo-political zone will benefit by an equal amount of N16.67b. The following major highways are to receive special attention:
a. Oyo – Ogbomosho,
c. Yenagoa Road Junction – Kolo Otuoke – Bayelsa Palm,
d. Enugu – Port Harcourt Dual Carriage Way,
e. Onitsha – Enugu Expressway,
f. Kaduna Eastern Bypass,
g. Dualization of Kano – Maiduguri Road,
h. Dualization of Abuja-Lokoja-Benin Road,
i. Dualization of Suleja – Minna Road.
He disclosed that government had approved reconstruction work on the Ab