Ibrahim Shuaibu in Kano
Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, yesterday lampooned those condemning the proposed light-rail project of his administration, describing them as enemies of the state bent on pulling down his government.
The governor who just returned from China where he struck a deal with the Chinese government on the light rail project, also constituted a 13-man implementation committee on the light rail project headed by an industrialist, Alhaji Isyaku Umar Tofa, who is the District Head of Tofa Local Government Area.
Ganduje’s reaction is coming against the backdrop of a series of criticisms from a political group known as the Kwankwasiyya Movement loyal to the immediate-past state governor, Senator Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, describing the project as a misplaced priority that would not benefit the state.
Apparently referring to Kwankwaso’s surrogates, Ganduje said: “For those doubting Thomases, for those day-dreamers, for those distracters, for those liars, for those ignorant people, for those political vandals who are anti-development of Kano State, we will like to inform them that this project is a project that will make Kano a mega-city.”
Speaking in Government House, Ganduje said his government would not succumb to any intimidation from any quarters bent on circumventing his good policies that would better the life of the good people of the state.
“We visited the headquarters, we inspected some of their projects in China and also we have seen that they are the contractors that are doing the light-rail project in Saudi Arabia and we have even entered the train which they built from Tianjin to the headquarters in China with a very high speed; but the one in Kano will not be on that high speed because we can not do high speed within the city.
“We can only do high speed from one city to another. Like Lagos to Kano. We held meetinge with three banks – Bank of China, China Development Bank and China Import and Export Bank. We held meetinge with these three banks; and right now, the three banks are competing in giving us proposals.
“We also held meetings with the China Sure, an outfit of the Chinese government which will coordinate the loan, and of course, the bank is expected to give 85 per cent of the total cost which is $1.8 billion and the state government is to give 15 per cent. We are negotiating on the interest, but from the look of things, the interest will not be more than three per cent, unlike in Nigeria where the interest is not below 15 per cent.
“Also, the repayment period is up to 15 years; and when we calculated it, we concluded that from our increase in the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), we will be able to pay the 15 per cent, and also the repayment period will start after the completion of the project, after the rolling stock is already on the ground, after the people and passengers will start enjoying and the revenue will start coming in—that is when the payment will begin and from the calculation of experts, the light-rail project will pay itself in the long run.
“And after payment, then the whole infrastructure will become a huge asset to the state government and government will continue to get revenue from the rail system; and only God knows when the revenue collection from the rail project will finish. By the grace of God, it will continue forever.
“From our investigation, in the Great Britain, London, light-rail was established and constructed through a bank loan. The same thing in France, the same thing in Germany and the United States. Now, coming back home, in Lagos, light-rail construction is going through a bank loan, go to Port Harcourt, it is going on through a bank loan, even the federal government is constructing speed rail from Lagos, Ibadan, Kaduna to Kano—the contract has been signed and it is from bank loan.
“Even the one from Abuja to Kaduna which has been completed is from loan. So, anybody who thinks light rail can be developed within a metropolitan city without bank loan, that person is ignorant of the modern day development. So, I assure the people that we are bent on making Kano a mega-city because a mega-city is not only based on population.
“A mega-city is based on the services that are provided within the city and light rail is one of them. So, we are praying we shall succeed. What remains now is for the final articulation and for the final agreement between China and the state government, with the approval of the federal government. The federal government is going to be the guarantor of the loan, so, once these things are ironed out, the project will kick-start.”