The Federal Executive Council (FEC) yesterday approved $1,959,744,723.71 for the construction of a rail line from Kano in Kano State to Maradi in Niger Republic.
Briefing State House reporters after yesterday's virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, said the contract sum included 7.5 per cent value added tax (VAT).
Amaechi said the rail line designed to take-off from Kano would link Dutse, in Jigawa State, Katsina, and Jibia and terminate at Maradi in Niger Republic.
According to information obtained from the Ministry of Transportation, the 248-kilometre rail line was initially budgeted for in the 2018 Appropriation Act, and would pass through Dambatta, Kazaure, Daura, Mashi, Katsina, Jibia and terminate in Maradi, Niger Republic.
THISDAY also learnt that the rail line upon completion would aid the supply of crude oil from Niger Republic to the refinery being built in the border town between Nigeria and Niger.
It was also learnt that there's a mutual agreement for the construction of the refinery between Nigeria and Niger Republic.
Amaechi also said the council approved another memorandum for the award of a contract for the design, manufacture, supply, testing, and commissioning of one railway crane of 150 tonne-capacity for emergency and recovery of rolling stocks.
"This is to sort out say situations of an accident on the track. It is for a total cost of N3,049,544,000. That's the first memo that was approved for the Ministry of Transportation.
"The second one is the award of contract for the development of the proposed Kano-Katsina-Jibia to Maradi rail line in Niger Republic and to Dutse, the capital of Jigawa, for a total cost of $1,959,744,723.71, inclusive of 7.5 per cent VAT," he said.
Also briefing journalists, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, said the council approved N745.2 million for the engagement of more forensic auditors to audit the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
According to him, the approval for the engagement of more auditors to audit the commission's activities in the last 19 years, would bring the number of hired auditors for the job to 16.
He said: "The memo that was presented by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs was a concluding memo on the procurement of field forensic auditors for the forensic audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission and today the council approved additional forensic field auditors at a total sum of about N745.2 million.
"This brings to the total number of field forensic auditors to 16 in addition to the earlier approved lead forensic auditors, Messrs Olumiluwa Bashir and Co. These people are now going to be a charge of the nine states of the Niger Delta which has been divided into 16 lots.
"As I stated earlier, lot one is Ernst and Young for the headquarters. They will be undertaking the 19 years of audit and also bring out the organigram for restructuring of the NDDC for better performance in the future."
In his own briefing, the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, said the council also approved N12.088 billion for the construction of section two of Ohafia - Arochukwu Road in Abia State.
"This section comprises Umuahia-Bende-Ohafia road in Abia State and it was approved for construction at N12.088 billion, comprising a distance of 45 kilometres to complement section one, which was previously awarded in 2018; that is the section from Bende to Arochukwu to Ohafia which was 19.27 kilometres," Fashola said.
In the same vein, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, briefed reporters on behalf of the Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva, and the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed.
According to him, the council approved a memorandum by Sylva for the approval of N3,773,784,399.48 for the augmentation of a contract awarded for the construction of Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) corporate headquarters in Abuja since 2012.
Mohammed, who said the construction had already been completed, added that the new approval would raise the initial contract sum to about N14 billion.
He said: "However, the important thing about this particular contract is that the building has since been completed. It has since been in use and we inherited this augmentation from 2012, but since governance is a continuum, we are honouring the augmentation, but this headquarters building has been completed.
"The contractors have been magnanimous while all these arguments about the augmentation were going on. They were magnanimous enough to complete the project and many international conferences have been held in that building."
He said the council also approved a memorandum by Ahmed for the purchase of 1,800 units of laptop computers for a training school and for the conduct of computer-based test examinations at three Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) training schools in Gwagwalada, Lagos, and Kano at the rate of N351,540,000, with a completion period of six weeks.
The minister also said the council approved N197,843,100 for the expansion of the Nigeria Customs Service's cash management's software in compliance with the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS).
He said the approval followed the presentation of a memorandum by the finance minister, explaining that the expansion would enhance the efficiency of various departments of Nigeria Customs.
In his own briefing, the Minister of Interior, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, said the council approved a contract award for the purchase of 52 number operational Green Maria vehicles to enhance effective operation in the Correctional Service.
According to him, the vehicles would also ease the movement of 247 awaiting trial inmates from the custodial centres to about 5,022 courts in Nigeria.