Today, August 11, major dailies in Nigeria are focusing on the demand by President Muhammdu Buhari for a full explanation from the Ministry of Finance on the foreign loans obtained for rail projects which were diverted to other purposes.
President Buhari has queried the Ministry of Finance over the diversion elsewhere of foreign loans obtained for various key rail projects by the federal government, under the leadership of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the former minister of finance, Vanguard reports.
Speaking on Monday, August 10, at the end of a presentation by the Ministry of Transport, by Alhaji Mohammed Bashar, the permanent secretary, Buhari expressed disappointment that foreign loans obtained in line with signed agreements were moved from one project to another.
According to Mallam Garba Shehu, his senior special assistant on media and publicity, President Buhari was reacting to the specific instance of the diversion of a substantial part of the $1.005 billion loan from the Chinese Exim Bank, obtained for the construction of a standard gauge rail line linking Lagos with Kano.
The loans had been obtained from China in 2012 under President Goodluck Jonathan, while Okonjo-Iweala served as minister of finance and co-ordinating minister of the economy.
Daily Sun reports that President Buhari sought explanations for the diversion of a substantial part of the loan.
“I hope that due process was followed before such diversions were carried out. Taking money from one project to another has to be done properly,” the president said.
Buhari was unhappy that over the years, government had failed to meet its funding obligations on some projects, which subsequently resulted in such projects being abandoned.
According to The Punch report, during the presentation, Bashar was said to have informed Buhari that only $400m of the $1.005bn loan remained with the finance ministry. The remaining $605m (N119.16bn) was diverted elsewhere.
This comes on the same day that Buhari appointed Professor Itse Sagay to head a Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption.
The committee would be saddled with the responsibility of advising Buhari’s administration on the prosecution of the war against corruption and the implementing required reforms in the nation’s criminal justice system.
In other news, the May/June 2015 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) has been released and more than half of the candidates failed English and Mathematics, the two core subjects compulsory for admission into tertiary institutions, The Nation reports.
The results were released on Monday, August 10, by the council.
The results of candidates in some 13 states were withheld because their states are yet to pay the fees.
According to the head of WAEC's national office, Charles Eguridu, this year’s results are a slight improvement from last year.
Meanwhile, The Guardian reports health workers have rejected plans by the federal government to privatise apex public health institutions like the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) Enugu, University College Hospital (UCH) Ibadan, Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH) Zaria, among others.