Some official conducts of the Transport Minis­ter, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, came under the scrutiny of the Senate on Tuesday.
The Upper House, which declared them untidy, directed its Joint Committee to investi­gate them.

Top on the committee’s mandate is the procedure the minister adopted in the con­cessioning of the Port Har­court-Maiduguri and Lagos-Kano Rail Lines to a United States (US) firm, General Elec­tric (GE).

The Senate action was prompted by a motion spon­sored by Senator Akpan Bassey (PDP-Akwa Ibom) which he ti­tled “Urgent Need to Investigate the Granting of Concession of Western Lagos-Kano) and East­ern (Port Harcourt-Maiduguri) Rail Lines to General Electric.”
Senator Bassey, who is the Chairman of the Senate Com­mittee on Gas, said that upon approval of the project by the National Privatisation Coun­cil in April 2015, during the last days of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s tenure, the Bureau of Public Enter­prises (BPE) and the Nigerian Infrastructure Advisory Facili­ty developed a roadmap for the concessioning of the rail lines.
He said that the BPE had engaged the Global Infrastruc­ture Facility and the World Bank in discussions on how to access funds to manage the pro­ject before Amaechi came into office and unilaterally awarded it to GE.
The lawmaker asserted that the Nigerian Railway Corpora­tion (NRC) Act did not envis­age the concessioning of corpo­ration’s facilities and services until the recent amendment.
Bassey also accused Amae­chi of violating the Public En­terprises (Privatisation and Commercialisation) Act, 1999 by the singular action.
He told the Upper Chamber that the minister had in an in­terview with CNBC in June an­nounced Nigeria’s engagement with GE regarding the conces­sion of Western and Eastern rail lines – Lagos to Kano and Port Harcourt to Maiduguri, respec­tively – worth about $2 billion.
Amaechi had said in the in­terview: “GE is already in; we are trying to get the govern­ment agencies to allow us ne­gotiate with GE. The company is going to bring in over $2 bil­lion into the Nigerian railway sector in which they are going to revive the Lagos-Kano nar­row gauge and revive the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri narrow gauge by private investment.”
But Bassey expressed con­cern that it was the responsi­bility of the Steering Commit­tee and Technical Committee of the Nigerian Railway Corpo­ration inaugurated by the Vice President in August this year to negotiate with potential bidders for the concessioning of the rail lines. He queried why the Min­istry of Transport should sin­glehandedly engage GE in June this year.
Having enjoyed robust con­tributions from senators, the Senate mandated its Commit­tees on Privatisation, Finance, Land Transport, Anti-corrup­tion and Financial Crimes, Trade and Investment to in­vestigate the transaction and re­port their findings to the Up­per House.
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