The attention of Igbo Ekunie Initiative, a coalition of professionals in Nigeria and the Diaspora has been drawn to a report detailing; the blatant neglect and exclusion of the South East and South-South in the national railway project. This is despite the federal government borrowing billions of dollars and mortgaging the whole nation to a debt that only some sections benefitted from.
Having carefully studied the report and the deliberate pattern of neglect and exclusion of the South East and South South, we declare as follows:
That the administration of Goodluck Jonathan awarded contracts in 2011 for Port Harcourt to Aba, Umuahia, Enugu, Oturkpo, Makurdi, Kafanchan, Kaduna and Kuru-Jos, Bauchi, Gombe, Maiduguri.
That, the train services were incrementally introduced from 2014 as sections were completed. That the contracts were at 85% completion when President Buhari took over in May 2015 and halted/abandoned any further rehabilitation and construction of the Railway line.
That whereas the South West have been enjoying railway services since 2012 with the Lagos to Kano and Lagos to Abeokuta rail lines, and whereas the North has had the Lagos to Kano lines since 2012, Kano to Nguru since 2013, Minna to Kaduna, Ilorin to Kano since 2014 and Zaria-Kaura since 2015.
That for over 2 years, the minister of transport Chibuike Amaechi repeatedly claimed the federal government was embarking on a new $20 billion Port Harcourt to Maiduguri railway line, but which turned out to be false when president Muhammadu Buhari denied knowledge of the project during the recent elections.
We note that in the case of the South East and South South, the minister of transport, Chibuike Amaechi and the Buhari administration has deliberately excluded the South-East and South-South while deceiving the public to believe otherwise. Indeed, by refusing to pay existing contractors working on rail projects, the minister of transport forced them to abandon the site and leave the facilities to fall into disrepair, dilapidation and vandalism to the point that train services no longer run from the South-East to the North.
Whereas for 4 years the govt has failed to start the construction of the $11billion Lagos-Calabar line, a signed contract which it inherited from the previous government. Is it $20billion that it will now find for a contract that doesn’t yet exist when it couldn’t bring itself to pay contractors a mere $60million to complete the rehabilitation of Port Harcourt-Maiduguri?
We submit that 4 years into Buhari’s administration, the continued pursuit of these Apartheid policies of exclusion by Buhari/Amaechi in violation of the oath of office betrays the long struggle that bequeathed this democracy and continues to endanger Nigeria’s fragile unity.
We hereby call on the minister of transport and President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently review the rail projects; ensure that contractors are paid and mobilised and that the South-East and South-South are equitably captured in the national rail projects.
Chief Tochukwu Ezeoke
President Igbo Ekunie Initiative
Secretary Igbo Ekunie Initiative