*Threaten court action
By Ibrahim Shuaibu
Elders in Kano under the aegis of Kano Unity Forum, a group of over 15 Kano based local and specialized groups, on Thursday expressed grave reservations about the resolve of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje to obtain loan from China Development Bank to construct phase 1 component of Light Mono Rail to service Kano Metropolis.
This was contained in a petition signed by former presidential candidate under defunct National Republican Convention (NRC), Alhaji Bashir Othman Tofa, on behalf of Kano Unity Forum and made available to THISDAY in Kano on Thursday.
The petition was sent to President Muhammad Buhari, National Assembly, Embassy of China in Nigeria, Ministry of Finace, Central Bank of Nigeria, China Development Bank, DMO, OAU secretariat and selected media organisations in Nigeria.
The statement explained that “save for few in official circles, nobody else knows the terms and conditions of the loan agreement”, adding that “the exact amount being borrowed is shrouded in secrecy”.
“A 1st Phase of the project costing Over N300 Billion or may be even the N828 Billion mentioned by others, coming mostly from a foreign loan is mind-boggling, to say the least. A rethink is not only needed, but necessary.”
Tofa stressed that “based on the analysis of the present indebtedness of Kano State as provided for by the Debt Management Office (DMO) Nigeria, it is extremely difficult, almost impossible for Kano State to sustain any indebtedness beyond the current liability portfolio of the state.”
He also said “It needs to be noted that a rail project is never a project to be put in haste as we observed that it is neither in the medium nor long term plans of the State Government.
“If indeed the Chinese want to genuinely help with cheap loans, they should be requested to support critical sectors such as education, health, agriculture, power, science and technology, infrastructure , industry and water supply”.
Tofa, addrd, “after all, the Chinese have become world leaders in these aspects of transformative development.”
The former presidential candidate declared that “Kano Unity Forum would not give any self-serving politician the latitude to increase poverty and deprivation within the general public through ill-conceived public works.”
He further said “we shall not be deluded by the attractive idea of good return from the investment. Rail projects world over are known as highly capital intensive with a very negligible rate of return on investment. It’s more of a social welfare project, especially in Less Developed Economies. “
He therefore warned that “In the event, however, KNSG chooses to remain impervious to this well intentioned intervention, we will diligently pursue court processes and other lawful means to stop the Light Rail project.
The statement further assured the Chinese of its readiness to ensure the next administration in the State repudiates the agreement altogether and disregard any responsibility for whatever money the Chinese expended on this project.