Friday, 8 April 2011

DATELINE NIGERIA: Jonathan to Buhari: Come clean on Lagos metro line project

President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday took the presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), General Muhammadu Buhari to task over the latter’s reason for cancelling the Lagos Metro Line project 27 years ago when he was Head of State.

President Jonathan asked Buhari to “come clean” on the real reasons for cancelling the project as Nigeria forfeited a whopping $60 million, which was part of the loan that had been paid by the Alhaji Lateef Jakande administration before Buhari toppled the civilian government in December 1983.

Jonathan, who spoke through the Media and Publicity Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) in a statement issued yesterday, said Buhari was economical with the truth about the cancellation of the contract and only gave “a specious political excuse” for dumping the project.

The CPC candidate had while speaking to his political associates in Lagos on Wednesday said the project was cancelled because his government did not want to take more loans nor devalue the naira.
His explanation was, however, a repudiation of that earlier offered by his spokesperson, Mr Yinka Odumakin, who said Buhari knew nothing about the cancellation and that it was the military governor of the state at the time, the late Gbolahan Mudashiru, who unilaterally cancelled the contract.

“Sadly though, Buhari is all too economical with the facts. His spokesman, Mr Yinka Odumakin (said) a few weeks ago that Buhari knew nothing about the cancellation and that it was the late Gbolahan Mudashiru who unilaterally cancelled the contract. But, Buhari has categorically repudiated Mr. Odumakin’s poorly concocted lies.

“But was Gen. Buhari himself telling the whole truth? The facts seem to point at a culture of lying at the CPC. Why would Odumakin lie against the dead? Was Buhari unaware of the huge penalty clause in the contract? So wherein stands his fib about avoiding loans? “We are appalled by this singular act that has compounded the traffic problems of Lagos, the seat of Nigeria’s economy. Gen Buhari needs to rehash a better tale.”

The PCC added that Buhari was just trying to score cheap political points and was being clever-by-half when he said the project was terminated because of financing issues. It also accused the CPC candidate of contempt for the people of Lagos, wondering why he just found his voice to speak on the issue almost 30 years after the contract was terminated. “Firstly, the project, which was initiated by the administration of Alhaji Lateef Jakande, was going on smoothly and on schedule before the coup-d’├ętat by General Buhari. The project would no doubt have been completed on time if not for General Buhari’s coup and the transportation nightmare Lagosians face today would not have existed.

“The visionary Jakande administration had concluded all the plans to finance the project, putting everything in place for its successful execution. The government had secured a $450 million loan at six per cent fixed interest rate for 25 years. At the time the project was cancelled the government had paid part of the loan and therefore had no worry about financing the project.

“What Buhari failed to tell his Lagos audience was that with the short-sighted termination of the project, Nigeria forfeited a whopping $60 million, part of the loan that had been paid by the previous government. Buhari took that decision arbitrarily in spite of being warned of the consequences,” the statement added.

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