Nigeria: When Railways Aid Re-Election of a President


President Buhari of Nigeria recorded positive records in the railway sector. Now that he has been re-elected, will he sustain the tempo?

Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari is an achiever in the railway sector. He breaks rare ground. He headed to re-election with a major accomplishment of conceiving and delivering a major railways project within the life cycle of his administration. The most successful of Buhari rail projects is the Lagos-Ibadan SGR, a section of which was recently commissioned.

Nigeria has a history of abandoned rail projects after billions of dollars have been expended. A rail project, Itakpe-Warri rail was abandoned for almost 25 years until the Buhari administration completed it last year. The President had also completed the Abuja-Kaduna SGR as well as the Abuja urban light rail project. The administration also embarks on the first transnational railway project that is to link Nigeria Jibia border town with Maradi in the Niger Republic.

Even when opposition party criticized the early commissioning of parts of Ibadan –Lagos rail, reports showed that friends and foes of the President marvelled at the successful handling of the Lagos-Ibadan rail project. What interest many who spoke with Railway Business is that neither Buhari nor Rotimi Amaechi, the railway minister, are from South Western Nigeria. Lagos is the Commercial capital of Nigeria and Ibadan is one of the biggest cities in Africa. Ibadan also serves as an exit route from Lagos to other parts of the country. Both Lagos and Ibadan are located in the South Western part of Nigeria.

Buhari had come under increasing attacks from the opposition for not initiating any major infrastructural projects in the railway sector. The completion of the Lagos-Ibadan rail project is therefore very significant for leaders and members of the ruling party. For the Railway minister, Rotimi Amaechi, the project was a personal vindication. Known to be a close ally of the president, Amaechi had in the last eight months is keeping vigil at the various construction sites, conducting unannounced inspections and personally overseeing the execution process. Rather than staying in the office receiving reports, Amaechi at a point almost become a partner construction engineer along the various sections of the rail line.

President Buhari has also demonstrated an ambitious mind in the implementation of the railway master plan in Nigeria. He also year approved six new railway projects, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has said.

The projects include the Kano-Katsina-Jibiya to Maradi in Niger Republic; the new standard gauge rail from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri passing through Enugu, Lafia, Makurdi, Gombe, with branches to Owerri, Onitsha, Awka, Abakaliki, Yola, Jalingo and Damaturu.

The rest are the extension of the Itapke-Aladja (Warri) to Abuja and Warri Port; development of Railway Industrial Park in Port Harcourt and a proposal for railway connection to Bonny Island Deep Seaport from Port Harcourt.

“We sought and got Mr President’s approval to source for financiers for various rail projects for development. Negotiations are ongoing and we may need to make some contributions depending on the negotiations,” he said.

Amaechi said so far, encouraging progress has been made in sourcing financiers for the prioritized projects “as we have received an expression of interest with potential and indicative financial models and business plan for their development.”

Additionally, the minister stated that the ministry is concluding feasibility studies started in 2013 for other new lines including Illela-Sokoto-Yelwa-Makera-Kontagora-Minna; Ilorin-Okoyi-Batigi-Baro to link Itakpe-Abuja line, among others; and Kano-Dayi-Katsina-Jibiya-Maradi in Niger.

Others are Port Harcourt-Aba-Umuahia-Lafia-Kuru-Bauchi-Gombe-Biu-Maiduguri; Calabar-Ikom-Obudu-Ogoja-Wukari-Yola-Maiduguri; and Aba-Ikot Ekpene- Ibiano- Itu-Uyo-Odukpani-Calabar.

The minister explained that all the projects will be included in the 2018 appropriation in order to reach the goals of the Buhari administration in the development of our railways.

He disclosed that the government intends to use the 2018 budget to complete the ongoing Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri-Aladja railway project, which commenced 32 years ago.

According to him, counterpart funding will be required as the Federal Government’s contribution to the financing of the Ibadan-Kano project and the Nigerian coastal line Lagos-Calabar project would commence this year.


This article appeared first on RAILBUS