Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) has described the federal government’s approval for the construction of a railway line linking Nigeria to Niger Republic as an insult to Nigerians and a waste of the country’s scarce resources.
In a statement jointly signed by TUC president and Secretary-General, Musa-Lawal Ozigi, the union said by this latest move, “it has indeed become obvious to the world that the managers of our country have ulterior and sinister motives to ruin this country.
“The Congress is not averse to development; constructing rail lines to Kano, Katsina and Dutse is understandable, but why extend it to Niger Republic? Why should we borrow from the IMF, World Bank and China to build a rail line to Niger Republic? Is there something this government is not telling us? How could the federal government come up with such an idea in a country where potable water has become a luxury; right to electricity is regarded as a taboo for an average citizen; roads have become death traps and our health facilities lack malaria drugs? That sum of $1.96billion (for the construction of the rail line), when exchanged at the rate of N380 per dollar is almost N800billion. This can do a lot in the economy.”
The union said the outbreak of the pandemic has exposed the weakness of Nigeria to the world.
“Our federal government was begging for ventilators and nose masks! Our education sector is in shambles. Agreements reached with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) over a decade ago are yet to be met.
“We are celebrating six decades of independence yet Ghana, South Africa, among other countries are threatening and treating Nigerians in their country with disdain. It hurts. It really does,” It said.
TUC said according to a report from the Debt Management Office (DMO), Nigeria’s total debt had risen to $79.5 billion (N28.63 trillion as of the first quarter of 2020).
It said debt servicing gulps trillions of naira yearly.
“News had that Nigeria’s sovereignty is at stake if the country fails to pay China, so how could the Federal Executive Council (FEC) accept such now? Or has the Niger Republic annexed Nigeria? The government has not completed the road that connects Nigeria with other Western African countries yet the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration approves the construction of a rail line to Niger Republic? What is Nigeria paying for? Or could this be another way of looting our commonwealth in preparation for the 2023 electioneering? The matter is becoming more confusing.
“Your Excellency, there are many roads seeking attention throughout the country. The Lagos-Ibadan expressway services every vehicle coming into Lagos, including the ones from Kano, Katsina and Dutse; why has it not been completed? The Niger Delta that lays the golden egg does not have good roads and potable water. They neither fish in their water nor go to the farm because of oil spillage.
“Yes, it is true that the NDDC was supposed to provide most of the basic amenities, unfortunately, the reverse is the case because of corruption. Those appointed to manage the commission ended up looting it. None is in jail because in the very first place it was a political settlement,” TUC alleged.