By Habiba Salihu
LONDON – President Goodluck Jonathan on Friday expressed Federal Government’s commitment to linking all the state capital cities to the rail service in order to boost the country’s economy through rail transportation.
Jonathan who was in London at the 17th Honorary International Investment Council (HIIC) said with such a nationwide rail coverage, roads and highways would be better maintained.
“If we do not link state capital cities by rail, our roads will not last,’’ he said at the occasion, whose theme is “Rail Transportation’’.
While speaking on the upgrading and expansion of the country’s public infrastructure, the President said “infrastructure plays a critical role in the economy.
“We cannot mould the economy of the country without good infrastructure.
“Quite a number of companies have had to create roads to their sites, and this is not supposed to be so.
“But we are committed to addressing this. We have been working hard and we have improved significantly with our road network.
“Within the next three years, we will be able to resurface all roads in the federal road network across the country.’’
Jonathan said his administration intended to do more by initiating some new road projects.
“These are roads that are very critical to our economy, to link Port Harcourt City and Bonny, the major gas exporting terminal of our country,’’ he said.
The President also told the HIIC members of his government’s commitment to securing the country’s airspace, and improving the quality of airport terminal buildings.
On the issue of security, Jonathan assured the Council members of “putting an end to the holding of communities by Boko Haram insurgents.
“We are improving in the area of security. For about a week now, there has been no new story of Boko Haram members holding territories.
“Instead, we are reducing them by the day. Before now, many Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Borno were taken by Boko Haram, but now this has reduced.
“We are working to put an end to the holding of territories by Boko Haram.’’
In the same vein, Baroness Lynda Chalker, the HIIC Co-ordinator, said the Council had succeeded significantly in moving the country’s economy since it was established.
She said the Council had focused on the economy’ various sectors since inception. “But this 17th Council meeting will focus on rail transportation, given its critical role to the economy.’’
The Council Co-ordinator however expressed concern that in spite of the progress achieved so far “positive news in Nigeria is overshadowed by what is happening now.
“We must work together to project positive news and achievements. It is not in anybody’s interest to run Nigeria down,’’ she said.
Chalker who lauded the country’s response in tackling the Ebola virus disease paid tribute to the late Dr Stella Adadevoh.
“By her action stopped what would have been a terrible destruction for Nigeria. But, unfortunately, she died,’’ she said.
The Europe Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that deliberations at the HIIC meeting will also focus on opportunities and reforms in the power and construction sectors.
Nigeria’s Ministers of Transportation, Power, Works and Aviation are billed to make presentations on their sectors at the meeting.
The rest are those of Finance, National Planning and Trade and Investment, as well as Defence.
NAN reports that HIIC is an organisation of prominent investors from around the world who advise governments on economic development.
The council’s partnership with Nigeria include reducing corruption, attracting foreign direct investment, and promoting a private sector-driven economy.(NAN)
FG to link all state capitals by rail service — Jonathan
By Habiba Salihu