Group slams Nigeria over $1.9b rail project to Niger Republic

By Valentine Amanze

The National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) has raised alarm over Nigeria government’s approval of $1.9 billion for the construction of rail line from Kano-Dutse-Katsina-Jibia to Maradi in Niger Republic.

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) gave approval for the project/money during its meeting of Wednesday September 23, 2020.

But, the NCEF via its Chairman, Elder Solomon Asemota, stated that the project was not only insensitive but absurd considering the many areas in Nigeria that were yet to be linked by modern rail system.

It also lamented that the project was to be executed through loan from the Chinese at a time when most developing countries were raising concern that the Chinese were using loans as tools for modern colonization.

NCEF also warned that every Nigerian, living and unborn was going to bear the brunt of the “colonial” decision to commit Nigeria to a rail line to Maradi in Niger Republic, stressing that the project was not in the interest of Nigerians but that of colonialists.

NCEF wondered what economic activity going on between Nigeria and Niger Republic that would warrant a loan of $1.9 billion to construct a rail line, while asking how much Niger Republic would commit to the project.

The group stated: “There are African countries whose teeth are on edge after taking too much bite of Chinese loans. Yet, the Nigerian government is not only committing the country to an additional loan of $1.9 billion, the fund is applied to a questionable project.

“The only logical reason for this absurdity is that Nigeria is regarded as a colony by the Fulani oligarchs in power. It is only a colonial mentality that can produce such unexplainable decision amidst lack and poverty in the country.”

The group also alleged that after the British left 60 years ago, what remained of Nigeria was “reformed” colonial system.

“It is very clear from our research that the British deliberately handed Nigeria, its land, mineral, oil and gas to one tribe, the Fulani that were, as Lugard wrote, incapable of effective colonial rule at the time.

“The Fulani government deliberately slowed down Nigeria’s progress in various ways including the Purge of 1975 - 1976.

“It is sad that people from different parts of the country sat at the Federal Executive Council meeting and due to personal political expediency acceded to a decision that will put generations yet unborn in bondage,” the group stated.

While wondering why the Muhammadu Buhari government keeps taking decisions that inflame anger and provoke some ethnic nationalities to consider opting out of the federation, the NCEF asked: “How could any reasonable person justify this rail project to Maradi?”

NCEF therefore recommended that the project be reviewed and the loan, if it is deemed necessary, be committed into developmental projects within the country.

“Nigeria is not a colony. It should not be governed as such,” it stated.

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