How Nigerians reacted to $1.9b Kano-Niger Republic rail line project approved by Buhari | International Centre for Investigative Reporting

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THE APPROVAL on Wednesday by the Federal Executive (FEC) presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari of a $1.9 billion rail project from Kano to the Niger Republic has come under public scrutiny as Nigerians have questioned the rationale behind the project.

The proposed rail line project will link Kano-Dutse-Katsina-Jibia and Maradi in the Niger Republic.

Rotimi Amaechi, the Minister of Transportation told journalists at the end of the FEC meeting on Wednesday, that the rail line when completed is expected to aid the transportation of crude oil.

However, reacting on social media, some Nigerians said the President’s decision was based on ethnicism, to others, the project was a misplaced priority and other Nigerians applauded the approval.

One of those who criticised the rail project wondered the justification for such arguing that there is no serious commerce between Nigeria and the Niger Republic.

“The Federal Government of Nigeria is spending $1.9billion of petroleum money to build a rail line from Kano to the Niger Republic, linking villages along the way.

“Tell me – where is the prudence & profit in this project? Is there serious commerce between Nigeria & Niger,” asked one Nigerian who identified as Lugard Tare-Out.

He further argued that the railway line is a waste of $1.9 billion, saying that there are more basic needs that could be addressed with the fund.

Another Nigerian, Olushola Olufolabi argued that a rail line connecting Nigeria and the Benin Republic or Ghana would have been a better decision rather than the Niger Republic.

“Won’t a rail line to link Cotonou, Benin be better? It should even get to Ghana. Why take a loan to pave the way leading to an unproductive destination, what’s our economic activities with Niger that will pay back the debt? Does the National Assembly vet and approve these loans at all,” said Olufolabi.

Ovwile Darlington, also arguing against the President’s approval remarked that the project is ‘leading to Nothing’.

“The $1.9bn rail line between Kano and the Niger Republic is a project leading to nothing much because I see no serious trading/commerce btw those two locations. Why can’t Buhari invest in states and regions like Lagos, Niger Delta generating those funds he’s about to waste,” he stated.

For some, the Nigerian states with the highest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) are not connected by rail yet while the government is about to connect states with low GDP.

While they argued on the premises of the economic value of the project, some other Nigerians felt the project is based on the ethnic association of the President and the Northern region where he hails from.

Paul Smith Obasi said the President’s motive was only to develop his ‘ancestral people with the Nigerian wealth’.

“The Kano Niger Rail shows clearly that this president is trying to prosper his ancestral people with Nigerian wealth, no wonder the banditry activity in his home town Katsina is unchecked, and the audacity activities of Fulani cattlemen are yet to meet the weight of our laws, sad,” Obasi said.

For Donnel Chime’ Alison, the project is an ‘ethnic-Fulani agenda’ as she expressed displeasure ove the president’s approval.

“This is quite disgusting. Of what economic benefit is this venture? How can connecting Kano and the Niger Republic be of economic relevance than linking Porthacourt and Lagos via rail line?

“There seems to be no shame on ‘Buhari’s ethno-Fulani agenda’. Water Resources Bill is still a headache, Alison said.

A social media user who identified as Uncle Fred Odo said ‘there’s a cargo rail line already in place linking Apapa Port to Kano. Now if this project is complete it will make Nigeria become an export & import hub for Niger Republic which will boost trade and commerce’.

Another user Ahmad Labiru, who praised the project said ‘What if we diversify the economy so that we don’t rely solely on Lagos? Nigeria wants to be the import-export hub of Niger which to me is a very good thing.

“Just visit Magama border and see the economic potential of the deal. The rail will link all the states with Kano and Niger’.

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