The proposed railway line from Kano to Niger Republic

rotimi amaechi

Recently, the Nigerian Minister for Transport, Mr Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi informed Nigerians that the present Buhari administration was planning a railway network that would link Nigeria and the Niger Republic and thereby make movement between the two countries easier. This project, according to Amaechi, had been estimated to cost the Federal government a whopping $1.96 billion. It would be recalled that the Nigerian government has been financing her recent railway projects with the aid of loans from China which are tied to critical infrastructure that many believe has amounted to mortgaging the sovereignty of the nation to China at the detriment of generations unborn.
Again, critics have blasted the Buhari administration for refusing to allow any of the current railway networks pass through the South East region which would also be part of the loan repayment arrangement. This denial of the South East has increased the cry of marginalization in the geo-political zone and has also begged the imagination of many Nigerians on how linking Niger Republic by rail could be more important to Buhari than linking the South East which is one of the tripods holding Nigeria.
Given the on-going state of insecurity in Nigeria with herdsmen allegedly from the Niger Republic at the centre of the killings, maiming, raping, kidnappings across Nigeria, one wonders what the Federal government hopes to achieve by linking Nigeria to the Niger Republic by rail, a project that would certainly lead to movement and uncontrolled influx of herdsmen and their attendant consequences.
We believe that this project amounts to a complete misplacement of priorities by the present administration. A country besieged by so many seemingly intractable problems should rather not be contemplating of moves that have all potentials to worsen the situation. There is no doubt that making herdsmen from the Niger Republic to more easily find their way into Nigeria through these rail lines is an open invitation to other herdsmen across the West African region and nobody can predict the outcome.
Edge Express newspaper is hereby calling on the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, jettison this idea of a railway line linking Nigeria to the Niger Republic. There is a paucity of funds in Nigeria and this project has no economic justification at all. $1.96 billion dollars is much money, even in the United States and this, if properly applied in the present Nigerian economy, would certainly go a long way to improving the lives of Nigerians. Nigeria lacks standard health care facilities; abject poverty rules the land and it is now said to be the poverty capital of the world. Critical infrastructure is lacking, our educational standards have fallen beyond an unimaginable level, no industrial base/incentives that would boost activities in the country.
Moreover, why should we borrow money to facilitate the movement of Nigeriens into Nigeria? The government needs a rethinking along the line of resolving Nigeria’s hydra-leaded challenges.

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