Samuel Ortom, Governor of Benue State, has queried the Federal Government’s planned construction of a rail line to link Nigeria and its neighbour, Niger Republic.
The government had approved $1.9 billion for the construction of the rail line from Kano to Niger. It, however, created public disquiet as many questioned the economic viability of such project.
While clarifying that the rail line will not go beyond Nigeria’s borders, Garba Shehu, Media Aide to President Muhammadu Buhari, explained that it will facilitate the movement of raw materials, mineral resources and agricultural produce from the areas to be linked.
“The objective of the rail is the harnessing of raw materials, mineral resources and agricultural produce,” Shehu added.
“When completed, it will serve domestic industries and play the role of a viable transportation backbone to the West African subregion, starting with the neighboring Niger Republic for their export and import logistic chain.”
However, at the inauguration and groundbreaking of Benue State Geographic Information Service in Makurdi on Wednesday, Governor Ortom still expressed his misgivings over the economic benefit of the project.
“What is the economic benefit of a rail line from Nigeria to Niger? Why do we have to take $1.9bn to make a rail line to Niger?” he said.
“Some of the policies of the Federal Government have made some of us to be suspicious. We have seen cattle colony, Ruga and open grazing camouflage coming into play.”
The Governor further called on the National Assembly to prevail on the President to put aside the project in the interest of the nation.