Amaechi against ‘politicisation’ of railway development
...Says Ethnicity is the bane of development in Nigeria
The Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, has advised against any form of ‘politicisation’ of railway development in the country.
Amaechi who was speaking as Guest Lecturer at the annual public lecture of the Department of Economics, University of Lagos, said that giving rail development political colouration was one of the major challenges against the government’s effort to stimulate the economy.
The minister stated that said ethnicity was a big challenge to development in Nigeria and noted that the economy remained at the heart of the rail projects built that were built around the, because the economy should be the deciding factor for such developments.
Noting the importance of transportation to driving the economy of nations, Amaechi said: “Virtually everything we do involves transportation. It is a key element in driving development of economies all over the world, and it creates possibilities for other sectors. Therefore, you can’t even create employment if you don’t create logistics.
“Nigerians are too ethnically conscious. You think first as your ethnicity before you think as a Nigerian. We have very few Nigerians, and ethnicity is putting pressure on the economics of railway construction.
“What you hear is, ‘I am a Yoruba man, I’m a Hausa man, I’m an Igbo man.’ The Yoruba man is happy that we have done Lagos-Ibadan; the moment you do railway up to Enugu, the Igbo man would be happy. I call it the politicisation of railway construction.
“Railway is fueled by economic activities; it’s not fueled by tribe. What determines a railway construction is economics, how many tons of cargo can be conveyed.
“Ethnicity is not the way to go. Those who fan the embers of ethnicity are those who were benefitting from the government in the past, but are no longer benefitting from the government,” he said
Amaechi also identified financing as another challenge to railway development, as Nigerians keep complaining about loans.
“From the budget, we are now constructing Kaduna-Kano rail line while still negotiating the loan for Ibadan to Kaduna, because the plan is Lagos to Kano.
“So far, the Federal Government has laid out plans for the construction of Lagos-Calabar at $11.1 billion, Ibadan-kano at $5.3 billion for single track.
“Port Harcourt-Maiduguri is at $3.02 billion for reconstruction of narrow gauge, $12 to $13 billion for standard gauge approved by the President, with additional spurs, Abuja-Itakpe at $3.9 billion in addition to the central line; and Lagos-Ibadan completed at $2 billion.