Senators from the Southern part of Nigeria have asked President Muhammadu Buhari, to withold his assent on the 2016 budget if the Appropriation Committees of both chambers of the National Assembly refused to include the Calabar – Lagos rail project in the 2016 appropriation bill.
Investigations by our correspondent revealed that the presidency had returned the document to the National Assembly, asking the federal parliament to include the project in the 2016 budget already passed but the lawmakers were demanding a supplementary appropriation.
Further checks at the office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), revealed on Wednesday that the document which was returned on Monday evening had been withdrawn again by the Budget office.
A member of staff of the office told our correspondent on conditions of anonymity that the budget was withdrawn on the orders of the Minister of Budget and National Planning. Mr. Udoma Udo Udoma, on Tuesday.
But federal parliamentarians from the South West and South South geopolitical zones met at their caucus levels on Tuesday night and resolved to resist any attempt to deny their people, the viable project.
Investigations by our correspondent revealed on Wednesday that while the South South, South East senators met at undisclosed locations outside the National Assembly complex, the South West senators met at the residence of Senator Gbenga Ashafa.
Senators who attended the caucus meetings confided in our correspondent that the call for the supplementary budget was an attempt to deny the south an opportunity to enjoy a viable rail project.
Confirming the position of the southern senators in an interview with our correspondent in Abuja on Wednesday, Senator Adesoji Akanbi, said the APC caucus in the south west are solidly behind the position of the Chairman, Senate Committee on Land Transport, Gbenga Ashafa, over the issue.
He said the signing of the budget now without the inclusion of the N60bn Calabar-Lagos rail project would not be in the interest of the people of the South West.