By Anthony Nwachukwu
As presently constituted, the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) cannot operate optimally, therefore the imperatives of its unbundling and necessary reforms, the Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, has said.
Sambo, who was addressing the visiting management of the Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MOFI), led by the Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Armstrong Katang, charged MOFI to drive the NRC unbundling to make it more economically viable while offering world class services to Nigerians.
“One of the things I will like to see as the minister of transportation, through MOFI, is the unbundling of the Nigerian Railway Corporation,” a statement from the Director, Press and Public Relations, Henshaw Ogubike, cited the minister to say.
“There is a committee set up to unbundle NRC and I will urge you to work with the existing committee.”
MOFI was incorporated under Sections 2 and 3 of the Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MOFI) Act of 1959 as an asset holding company under the ministry. It is the sole manager of all federal investment interests, estates, easements and rights.
Sambo further referenced the reforms being implemented in the ports sector and the benefits so far, and recommending them for the railway sector, he said the current state of the NRC “was the way the ports were prior to concession, prior to the reforms of 2005.
“Today, even the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) workers are happier about how it is today compared to how it was prior to the reforms.
“This means the reformed NPA is generating more revenues to support its operations and also support its workforce and pensioners.”
He further allayed the fear of job loss following the unbundling, stating: “I don’t want the staff to see the unbundling of the NRC as a threat to their jobs.
“If we have a better performing NRC, then we are going to have better salaries for its workers, better working conditions, more revenue for the Federal Government and therefore the ability to even build more rail networks.”
Meanwhile, Sambo assured that the issue of encroachment on railway property would soon end as “MOFI was berthed for a specific reason – for the Federal Government to take control of its assets and create optimum value for these assets.”
Also, the Minister of State for Transportation, Prince Ademola Adegoroye, commended Dr. Armstrong’s capabilities, while expressing confidence that the MOFI team will deliver on the job.
Similarly, the Permanent Secretary, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, noted that comprising young and intelligent people, the MOFI team has satisfied the yearning of Nigerians to have young people in positions of responsibility. She assured the team of the ministry’s cooperation.
Dr. Armstrong had earlier stated that the visit was to discuss how to create a more effective and efficient partnership between MOFI and the Ministry of Transportation.
He listed the identified areas for collaboration as enumerating and valuing the NRC to ensure that its value is captured in line with the current realities.
Others include enumerating and capturing other critical assets within the ministry, especially infrastructure, and establishing a task force with representation from both transportation and finance ministries with clear terms of reference to help with the identified assignments.
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