Friday, 22nd September 2023

Nigeria not constructing rail line to Niger, says presidency

By Terhemba Daka, Segun Olaniyi (Abuja), Gloria Nwafor (Lagos) and Murtala Adewale (Kano)
25 September 2020   |   4:11 am
The Federal Government has debunked reports that the Kano/Katsina/Jibia/Maradi railway would be built into the neighbouring Niger Republic.

• HURIWA, TUC flay project as threat to national security, wasteful
The Federal Government has debunked reports that the Kano/Katsina/Jibia/Maradi railway would be built into the neighbouring Niger Republic.

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) had, on Wednesday, approved $1.96 billion for a rail project from Kano to Maradi.

However, explaining the scope and form of the project in a number of tweets, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said the Nigerian end of the rail line would terminate at the country’s end of the border with Niger.

According to him, Nigeria and Niger Republic signed an agreement in 2015 to build a track from their ends, explaining that the two works, named the ‘Kano/Katsina/Maradi (K2M) Corridor Master Plan’ would meet at the border.

BUT Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has said the approval of $1.96 billion by FEC for the project would threaten national security.

According to HURIWA, it is fraudulent for the Nigerian government to borrow money from China and build for the Niger Republic and then tax Nigerians to pay back, adding that when the project is completed, it will ease the influx of illegal aliens into Nigeria, which could be used to unleash mayhem in some parts of the North.

In a statement yesterday in Abuja by the National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, and the National Media Affairs Director, Zainab Yusuf, the group threatened to approach a competent court of jurisdiction to sue President Muhammadu Buhari to stop the project.

Also, the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) has faulted project, describing it as an insult and waste of the nation’s scarce resources.

The union described the move as another way of looting the nation’s treasury in preparation for the 2023 electioneering.

President of TUC, Quadri Olaleye, in a statement yesterday, argued that the almost N800 billion expended on the project could do a lot in the economy.

MEANWHILE, the Debt Management Office (DMO) has said that the $1.8 billion facility sought by Kano State government from a Chinese bank for construction of inter-city rail project in the state has not been approved.

DMO was responding to Kano Unity Forum (KUF)’s request urgent review on the controversial loan request.

In a memo to KUF, Bashir Tofa, the DMO insisted that the presidency had not approved any loan application concerning such a project in recent time.

The position of DMO, however, contradicted Kano government’s claim that the said credit facility had already scaled through all due process, including the approval of the presidency through DMO.

DMO Director, Legal Services, S.H Barkum, posited that the office had no submission regarding Chinese loan on monorail by Kano government before it.