FEC approves $2.8bn for railway equipment maintenance, others


…Okays N4.96bn for printing of NECO materials

…Pledges to resolve ASUU strike

By Uthman Salami

The Federal government has approved the funds for the procurement of rolling stocks, operations as well as maintenance of Nigerian railway service equipment.

This approval was made after the Federal Executive Council’s meeting held in Abuja yesterday.

In a meeting that was held at the end of the virtually held FEC meeting, the Council gave the nod to $2,810,574,064.92 for the Ministry of Transportation.

The approval is believed to be meant for the procurement of rolling stocks and other operational and maintenance equipment for the rail lines within Kano and Port Harcourt to Maiduguri.

In the same vein, the Council also gave approval for over N4.96 billion set aside for a printing contract for the National Examination Council (NECO).

The FEC was anchored by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo as Buhari had since left for Belgium Summit beginning today.

Speaking to State House Correspondent after the week’s virtual FEC presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, said the contract was necessary for the smooth running of the rail lines.

Speaking further during the press conference, Amaechi disclosed that, “I have an approval of the cabinet to procure rolling stocks, operational and maintenance equipment for the new railway projects corridors in Ibadan to Kano standard gauge and Port Harcourt to Maiduguri narrow gauge rail lines to the tune of $2,810,574,064.92, including 7.5 per cent tax.

“Rolling stocks are consumables for the maintenance and operation of the railway. So, currently, anytime you hear of break down, which was discussed in the cabinet, it’s because maybe we have run out of rolling stock and we’ve also run out of stock for the railway.

“So, with this, we will replace all the rolling stock. They are essentially the consumables we use to maintain the trains, coaches and locomotives,” he explained.

On his part, while speaking during the Press, the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, said the Council approved a contract that would enable NECO print materials that are to be used for Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) at the cost of N4,965,986,573.89.

“Today, the memo we presented from the Ministry of Education is a printing contract by NECO for the senior school certificate examination and the beneficiaries are nine contractors and the amount is N4,965,986,573.89. And it will be completed in eight weeks. And it is for the printing of sensitive, non-sensitive equipment and other ancillary equipment for the examination,” he said.

The Minister described as surprising the one-month industrial action by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Monday.

While fielding questions from State House correspondents at the end of the Council’s meeting, the minister said ASUU’s decision to embark on a strike was uncalled for as negotiations were still ongoing.

“ASUU, unfortunately have gone on strike and I am looking for them because all the issues are being addressed.

“The last thing that happened was that our committee looked at their demands but there are renegotiations going on. They submitted a draft agreement which the ministry is looking at.

“There is a solution to this. The negotiations are the solution and that is why I have said that I am surprised that ASUU has gone on strike.”

When quizzed whether an agreement between the government and ASUU could be reached before the end of the 30-day strike, he said the time frame may not be known just yet, insisting that government was ready for reach a conclusion with ASUU.

He said in his words, “I can’t give you time. I am ready to reach an agreement with ASUU now but since I’m not the only one, I can’t give you time but certainly we are going to reach an agreement very soon.”