The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has clears the air while debunking rumours of that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration was pursuing territorial expansion and the misconception about the rail line set to be built from Katsina to Marradi Niger, he made the clarification while on the NTA programme, “Good Morning Nigeria”.
The programme which focused on “Nigeria at 60: Matters Arising”, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said specifically that rail line extension from Nigeria into Niger is meant for nothing but for economic advantages of import and export of Niger Republic, Chad and Burkina Faso which are all landlocked countries.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed said contrary to the misinformation being spewed by some commentators on the rail extension project, the decision was taken mainly for economic reasons and economic interest of the country.
NAN reports that some Nigerians have queried the rationale behind Nigeria borrowing so much to fund the infrastructure of a neighbouring country.
The Minister, however explained: “I think there have been a lot of disinformation and total lack of information over that linking of Lagos, Kano, Katsina railway to Marradi”
“The wisdom behind it is that Niger, Chad Burkina Faso are all landlocked meaning that they do not have access to sea.
“What this means is that most of their imports and exports have to go through neighbouring countries’ seaports like Cotonou in Benin Republic, Togo and Ghana.”
Because we do not have a road infrastructure that will encourage Niger republic to use our seaports, we believe that we will be able to take over their imports and exports with the rail linkage.
“The simple reason, therefore is to strengthen the economy of Nigeria,” he said.
Lai Mohammed explained further: “For now, Niger Republic used seaport of Benin Republic, Togo and Ghana and the exporters go through the stress, challenges and time of being on the road from Cotonou, Lome or Accra to their country.
“But when you look at the distance by rail by the time we link them from Katsina to Maradi, it will be easier for us to take over the business.
“There is nothing like territorial expansion, it is purely economic, we are taking advantage of proximity and efficiency of rail system”.
The Minister further explained that the distance from Jibia the Nigeria border town with the Niger Republic to Marradi is a few kilometres and there are existing business relations between the people at both border towns.
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