HURIWA faults halting of eastern railway project
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has faulted the non-completion of the narrow-gauge eastern railway corridor, saying President Muhammadu Buhari was rather committed to completing the $1.96 billion 284-kilometer Kano-Katsina-Maradi railway project to Niger Republic before he leaves office in May 2023.
HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, in a statement yesterday, said it was most unfortunate that Buhari prioritised the satisfaction and comfort of his cousins in Niger Republic than patriotic and legitimate Nigerians who would benefit immensely from the completion of the 2044.1km Port Harcourt-Maiduguri narrow gauge railway project.
The group also said it remains unfathomable how the then Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, in December 2021, met with KfW-IPEX Bank of Germany, who is the financial advisor to the Kano-Maradi project in partnership with African Finance Corporation but the current Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Sambo, has said the Eastern Railway Project had been stalled due to the unavailability of the foreign loans required to fund it despite Buhari’s promise to Nigerians that he would deliver the project before he leaves office on May 29, 2022.
Onwubiko said: “From day one, President Muhammadu Buhari has never been forthright and transparent about Eastern Railway Project. Many excuses were adduced for the delay including insecurity but now this. This is despite the fact that Buhari approved $1.96 billion fund for the Kano-Maradi rail in Niger Republic.
“Of note, Buhari approved from many external loans for the Niger Republic project. Reports by the Debt Management Office showed that Nigeria’s total external debt rose from $10.32 billion on June 30, 2015, to $40.06 billion as at June 30, 2022, over 288.18 per cent increase in seven years.
“The debts from multilateral sources such as the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund and bilateral loans from China, France, Japan, Germany, India and others were lavished on projects in northern Nigeria, especially Buhari’s home state of Katsina, which now boasts of over 20 projects including the Federal Polytechnic, Daura, the Women and Children Hospital, Daura, the Federal University of Transportation, Daura, the Nigerian Airforce Response Air Wing (Quick Response Unit), Daura, the Nigerian Army 171 Battalion Base, Daura, the Forwarding Operating Base of the Nigerian Army along Kongolam road, Daura.
“Others are the National Directorate of Employment Centre, Ganga, Daura; upgrade and expansion of Daura Mini Stadium, the Sustainable Development Goals Skills Acquisition Centre, Zango Road, Daura; completion of the Sabke Dam, Daura, which supplies one million litres of water to Daura and neighbouring communities and the 73km 132KVA line from Katsina to Daura and two 30 and 40 MVA transformers to boost power supply, amongst others.
“This skewed distribution of projects is condemnable and exposes the current Federal Government for its manifest insincerity and nepotistic bias. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. Every part of the country should be developed equally. No part should be treated as second class.”