The federal government yesterday approved N15 billion interest-free loan for a mass transit scheme, just as President Goodluck Jonathan alleged that mischief makers had invaded the social network, using BlackBerry, twitter and facebook to send wrong information.
Speaking when he launched a mass transit intervention programme in Abuja yesterday to bring down the cost of transportation across the country, Jonathan said the increase in fares was not real. “It was a reaction of people who perceived that government deregulation programme is anti-people and attempted to vent their anger by just raising their prices,” he stated.
He also denied the rumour that he was presently in South Africa with about 100 Nigerians, just as he debunked insinuations that the federal government was purchasing buses for commercial purposes.
He said: “Federal government is not buying any bus. There are a lot of mischief makers going around to misinform Nigerians, especially through social networks the twitter, bb, facebook and others – to communicate very wrong things to Nigerians.
“Even as I am here with you, people are saying that I am in South Africa with about 100 Nigerians. But that is Nigeria for you. There is a lot of wrong information that is being pumped into the system.
“We are not buying a single bus as a federal government, but we are subsidising the mass transit sector. That is what other governments do. We have to come up with programmes and policies to bring the cost of buses for mass transit down.”
Noting that the event was a formal launch of a mass transit programme, the president said, “I have to emphasise that we are not commissioning buses but we are launching a mass transit programme for Nigeria. The federal government is involved, the state governments are involved, local governments are involved, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is involved, several commercial banks are involved and, of course, transport unions as well as manufacturers and importers of mass transit vehicles.
“Governors are not here because of what everybody is afraid of – the announced protest by some societies. We said every governor must be on ground in the state, so that they would be able to work with security agencies to maintain law and order in their states.”
Admitting that the country had suffered a lack of mass transit culture, the president said: “When you travel out, people who go to schools, people who go to visit friends, who travel from one city to another, enter buses or go by train. They don’t use taxis. Taxi is for urgent movement or for those who have more money than the stomach would need.
“But here, that mass transit culture is not available. It comes and goes. Deregulation or no deregulation, we need to develop a mass transit culture in Nigeria.”
And for that reason, we have a committee of some governors who are involved in mass transit and also get some private people who are also involved in mass transit so that they will come up with sustainable mass transit programme.
“Diesel had been deregulated a long time ago by former President Olusegun Obasanjo administration, over five years ago, and most of the mass transit vehicles are heavy vehicles that use diesel. Deregulation or no deregulation, we are discussing how to bring down the cost of transportation in Nigeria.”