‘Poverty Didn’t Start With Buhari’s Government’
For many years, the Nigerian rail transport system which was vibrant and highly reliable in the 1960s and 1970s, gradually decayed and became comatose. At best, it offered epileptic and skeletal services on very few routes. The coming into office of Rt. Honourable Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, Governor of Rivers State 2007-2015, as Nigeria’s Transportation Minister, changed that old discouraging narrative. Today, for the first time in decades, Nigeria has standard gauge rail lines, better moving, air-conditioned trains which now ply several major routes, with plans to add on more routes in the foreseeable future. However, the euphoria of having train services recently dampened, raising questions about the security of passengers on the trains, when on the extremely popular route, Abuja-Kaduna, a Kaduna bound train was attacked by bandits/terrorists. Precious lives were lost, many were injured, while even more were kidnapped; an unfortunate incident which the Minister confessed saddened him greatly. Onikepo Braithwaite and Jude Igbanoi sought Minister Amaechi out, to discuss Government’s plans to secure the trains, the strides which have so far been made in the Nigerian railway sector since his assumption of office, while touching briefly on his recent declaration to run for Nigeria’s Presidency should he secure the APC Presidential ticket
We understand that you are a final year Law Student. What informed your decision to study Law, or what is the attraction, especially in a country where Government, especially this administration which you are a part of, does not seem to have much regard for the rule of law, court judgements etc?
Seriously speaking, give us one example of any infraction by this Government! Kindly, mention one!
Oh, the Elzakzaky case
That wasn’t a Federal Government case! That was a State Government case.
He was held in DSS for long
And, you have any evidence that he was in DSS?
Sambo Dasuki was also held for quite a long time
So, where is Dasuki now?
They finally left him, after he was granted bail several times, even by the ECOWAS Court too
ECOWAS Court had no jurisdiction in the matter!
Nigerian courts had given granted him bail on more than one occasion
I don’t think you are right.
I am right
So, you are right just because its you?
No, not because it is me, but because I had followed the matter from the onset
And, you think I wasn’t following the case?
What informed your decision to study law?
I just wanted to read law. I have always wanted to study law.
Are you a final year law student?
Yes, I am a final year law student.
Will you practice?
I am not sure yet,
Kindly, give us an overview of the status of the Nigerian railway and the rail network across the country when you assumed office as Minister of Transportation in 2015, and what it is today? What have you been able to achieve in this regard? How many kilometres of functional rail lines does Nigeria have presently, and will have by the time this administration leaves office next year?
This is one question I don’t like responding to. Because, when I give my response, it would seem as if I’m condemning the past Government. I don’t like condemning past governments. We’ll like to be assessed from the day we took office, until the day we’ll leave.
The narrow gauge rail was functioning epileptically. It would take off to Kano and spend three days to get there, and another three days to return. Sometimes, it didn’t function at all.
There was one going from Port Harcourt to Aba, and it ran once or twice a week. Those were things we met. Then President Goodluck Jonathan had commenced the one going from Abuja to Kaduna. But, it stopped at about 70% -80% completion. What was the reason why they stopped? They couldn’t engage the Catholic Church, the Reverend Sisters who owned properties that were found on the rail line. They had made some promises which they couldn’t keep. The Sisters didn’t quote trust them that they would keep to those promises.
When I took over, I went to those Sisters and said ‘look, I am a Catholic, I will keep yo those promises; not just because I am a Catholic, but because our Government is going to keep to its words’. So, the Sisters allowed us to do the demolition and complete the railway; the Federal Government looked for the money to build the railway and we completed it, and started commercial activities. We fulfilled our promises to the Sisters. We got the land, we gave them the money for compensation, even though the compensation for me was that the Chinese would have agreed to build a new hospital for them. They agreed initially, but they reneged half way.
That was what we met, when we took over. If you put it in the manner that would suit the past Government, you would say you had about 3,000 kilometres of railway. But, it was abandoned, overgrown by weeds and service was epileptic in the areas that the rail was running.
Then we had another 350 kilometres of rail, that was uncompleted. It would have been the first standard gauge in Nigeria.
There was this 325 kilometres of Itakpe-Warri that we met, but again, uncompleted, abandoned and overgrown by weeds and trees. The President, after assessment, decided that we should complete Itakpe-Warri, we should also complete Kaduna-Abuja. So, we found the money internally, and we didn’t borrow. To complete Itakpe-Warri, we needed over $100, nearly $200 million; he gave us the money and we completed it and put commercial trains on it. So, they are running now.
Then we completed Kaduna-Abuja. We tried to rehabilitate the narrow gauge through General Electric, but, it didn’t work, so we went back to borrow money to do Lagos-Ibadan which we have completed, its about 156 kilometres. Kaduna-Abuja is about 186 kilometres.
Now, we are looking at about 2,000 kilometres of rail. If you add the one we are yet go to Cabinet for, it would be nearly 2,500 kilometres. There is the narrow gauge from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri, which is about 1,500 kilometres. But, if you add from Gombe to Yola, from Gombe to Damaturu and to Gashua (where the Senate President comes from). If you add from Port Harcourt to Owerri, Owerri to Awka to Abakiliki, if you add them all, it would be nearly 2,500 kilometres.
But, work has commenced from Port Harcourt to Aba. The way we are going about it, we are hoping that at every point in time, we’ll put trains on any section we complete. When we complete Aba to Umuahia, Umuahia to Enugu, we’ll put a train, Port Harcourt to Aba, we’ll put a train, like that.
Again, we are going to work in gangs. We are still working to get a loan. When we get the loan, as we are working from Aba to Port Harcourt, another gang will be working coming from Maiduguri, another gang will be working from Gombe, another gang from Bauchi.
You’ll do it simultaneously?
Yes. We’ll do it simultaneously! So that we can complete on time. But, that would be dependent on how much we get, because the money we are using to fund it, is money that we got from the budget. So, like I told you, we have about 2,500 kilometres ongoing. But, also we are hoping to commence this April, the construction of Kano to Maradi.
Then we have commenced work, we have done up to about 70 kilometres of Kano-Kaduna which is about 204 kilometres. As at the last inspection, they had cleared up to 74 kilometres, and they are beginning to do the formation. Hopefully, by December this year we’ll be able to complete the Kano-Kaduna which will get us 204 kilometres.
So, if you add 204 kilometres to 186, 156 to 350 kilometres from Itakpe-Warri, you’ll be close to about 900 kilometres of rail. This shows that by the time we leave office, we should be able to get up to 1,000 kilometres of rail, starting from zero, don’t forget!
That is what we’ve done. I don’t know whether to count Port Harcourt-Maiduguri, as part of those we’ll complete. But, I believe that by the time we leave office we would have completed from Port Harcourt to Aba, that I can bet on.
We just finished a meeting this afternoon on Lagos-Calabar. What is delaying that, is funding. You just saw me take a call from the Minister of Finance. We are meeting tomorrow, to discuss the details of the funding. So, it depends on how much we get, rest assured that it would be a minimum of 1,000 to 1,200 kilometres of rail by the time we leave office.
There is a saying in my village that, the redneck lizard fell from an Iroko tree, nobody praises him; it nodded its neck and said, ‘I have tried’.
Section 14(2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution provides that the primary purpose of Government is the security and welfare of the people. The recent attack on the Abuja-Kaduna rail tracks and Kaduna bound train not only claimed several lives, many others suffered injuries, while a large number who were also kidnapped from the train by bandits are yet to be set free over two weeks later.
It is undeniable that this administration has failed to achieve its primary purpose, despite the fact that restoration of security was one of its main campaign promises. On the contrary, the security situation has worsened. What efforts are being made to rescue the abductees, who were recently seen in a video begging to be rescued? What are your views on making ransom payments, especially in this situation where Government has failed to play its part in protecting the people, and people are being kidnapped through no fault or carelessness on their part?
There are too many assumptions you make in the questions you ask.
You are making the assumption that Government deliberately planned to have these people kidnapped.
No, I am not making that assumption.
That is the assumption you are making. First, you must understand that we met a country where literally there was no money left behind. When we say this, people think we are just making excuses. The reality of the fact is that, you handed over to us a government, which you must not forget, I was a part of. Because I was not only a Governor, I was the Chairman of Governors Forum. By the time we were leaving office, we were minting money, that we didn’t have back-up.
So, anybody who talks about kidnapping now, I know that Nigerians won’t like this, but you can’t distance insecurity from poverty. You can’t also say that, poverty started with the government of Buhari. If we had all the resources that the previous Government had, we would have done all the things we are trying to do now. In fact, I like to paraphrase the President: ‘If they had built all the railways, we won’t be repeating it now’. We would have probably focused on agriculture. If you remember in our first tenure, there was a huge focus on agriculture, and infrastructure like roads, light; the eight years wouldn’t be enough!
There are two kinds of banditry you are looking at. The first is motivated by poverty. Then the second is terrorism, which you can tie to religion, ethnicity, and others. Maybe not really religion and ethnicity, but ignorance is a big issue in those who participate in terrorism.
The question you asked, I wish I could answer it. The right person to give you the right response, will be between the National Security Adviser and the Minister of Defence.
But, you are in charge of the trains. So, what efforts are you making?
The job of the Minister of Transport, is to provide trains. He doesn’t provide security, and you don’t discuss security in the public. Let’s say they are planning to go and rescue the kidnap victims, you don’t go and be saying ‘oh we are going there on Monday’.
What are your views on making ransom payments to kidnappers?
Oh, I have never believed in making ransom payments. As a Governor, I always refused to make ransom payments. Because, it’s the responsibility of the Government to go and rescue people. So, why pay ransom?
There has been some buck passing in this regard, but knowing that Nigeria was facing problems with security even before this administration assumed office, why were the trains not equipped with adequate security devices right from the start? Why was it so late – 2022 to be precise, that you requested for the sum of N3.8 billion for security logistics, a request which you stated that the Federal Executive Council turned down. Kindly, shed more light on why your request was turned down, and going forward some of the measures that will be put in place to ensure that this type of unfortunate incident will not reoccur on any of the train routes; because it is only with such measures, that the people’s confidence in rail travel will be restored
No! I don’t have responsibility for security. I’m the Minister of Transport, not the Minister of Defence. It is the responsibility of the Police and other security agencies. In fact, we are just equipping the military, because they only come out when there is war. Its only now that we let the Army come out, because the situation is getting bad. But, you can’t blame the situation on them.
The assumption at that point is that, you don’t know where these boys would attack. Unless you achieve a global security in the country, you can’t tell. As I am going out with you, you can’t tell whether we’ll be attacked.
But, let us also look at the issue of why didn’t you provide security. It wasn’t anticipated. It wasn’t part of the contract.
Nobody knew that it would get to a point in Nigeria, where trains will be attacked. If it was anticipated, we would have provided the security. Just like when we got the intelligence that they would attack. The Governor of Kaduna State said he got the intelligence, and he wrote. Even by the time he wrote, we had already applied for them to provide us with the necessary equipment to provide security. Unfortunately it wasn’t accepted. Cabinet had its own reasons. When they say Cabinet, it doesn’t mean that every member supported that it shouldn’t be accepted. That is the way to look at it.
So, in short, the reason why there was no security on the train from the start, is that this kind of insecurity wasn’t anticipated?
How do you anticipate it? When you enter the train in London, do you have security?
No, London is different. The main campaign promises of APC when it was coming to power in 2015, was to restore security
Be honest with yourself. Can you compare this Government with the previous Government?
In terms of what?
In terms of security.
Ah! It is worse now! It was better then. Then, insecurity was concentrated in a small area, principally the North East and maybe militancy in the South South
I am suspecting that you are a PDP member! Let me tell you why I am suspecting you. You don’t have your facts.
I am not a member of PDP or any other party. It seems that once one criticises this Government, the immediate reaction by your party members is to make the accusation that the person criticising is a member of PDP. Look, now I can no longer wear my watch like I used to, because of the fear of being robbed any place, anytime. See what I am wearing now, a rubber, exercise watch
Please, that is you! I don’t have a watch. I don’t have money to buy a watch! Don’t use that as an excuse. Let’s even discuss the issue you are bringing up. Here in Abuja, the United Nations Building was bombed. Karo Motor Park was bombed.
I was here in Abuja on the day the UN building was bombed
Oh, you were here? Then, you couldn’t even go to Kano!
You couldn’t enter Kano. You couldn’t go to Kaduna. Tell us where they are bombing now!
Did they not kill some people in Benue and Plateau just after the train attack? Are people not being killed daily?
We are making a comparison. Then you couldn’t even leave Abuja. Last night, for two nights I drove from Abuja Kano to Abuja.
In your bulletproof car?
I was in a bus! Empty bus, no bulletproof, nothing! We drove to Daura, from Daura to Katsina. We left Katsina 8pm and arrived Kano at 11pm. That couldn’t happen by then.
Yours may be special. They may have gone to clear the road for you. Its as if you are trivialising what people are going through
Nobody cleared the road for me to go! You are making me reveal my pattern of living. I don’t drive with security here in Abuja. You can ask anybody who knows me, I don’t drive around with security. I don’t! Even in Lagos, I drive freely.
I am not saying the lives of Nigerians are not threatened. That would be completely underestimating the reality. But, I am saying, don’t compare. The situation is bad, because the economy we inherited is bad. It will not take one year for us to do magic.
You have been Government for seven years. You didn’t just resume office last week
You know I responded when you mentioned security. Even right here, where the Police Headquarters where the Inspector General stays was bombed! True or false?
But it’s seven years now
Many people don’t realise that, we took over government when the oil price was $28 per barrel.
Now, that its over $100, what is your problem?
So, at over $100, will that solve our problems in one day?
No, but it’s like you people in Government are talking from both sides of your mouth
How? My parents didn’t teach me how to talk from both sides of my mouth. And, the President doesn’t talk that way too!
But, your administration and spokespersons have repeated it like a broken record. ‘Cacofonix’. That when the price of oil was high, PDP squandered and stole all the money
And, we still haven’t recovered!
But, now that the oil prices are high
How many weeks ago?
The Minister of State for Petroleum came out to say the opposite
That the rising oil prices may not be good for Nigeria. That our comfort zone in terms of oil pricing is between $70 – $80 per barrel or so. The tune has somewhat changed
The humongous loans sourced from China to finance these rail projects have raised several questions, including whether China will take over our rail transport system in the unlikely event that Nigeria falls behind in servicing these loans. Are these fears realistic? Do you expect any decent revenue from the railway service which will assist in repaying the loans, or is it just a social amenity being provided for the good of the people? In short, what plan has Government put in place to repay?
When you look at the amount in dollars, compared to our GDP and National Budget, some people felt that it was much
First of all, if you look at the amount they are talking about. If you look at the amount of money the Egyptian Government has taken on railway, you’ll know that we haven’t even started taking.
The problem with the Nigerian economy is not loans, its revenue. We don’t have revenue. Let’s even address it. In fact you’re wrong! Humongous, we only took $2 billion for Lagos-Ibadan. Out of that, the Federal Government has repaid $600m.
So, there is still $1.4 billion outstanding?
Yes, $1.4 billion. That’s the only loan we have taken so far. We haven’t got any loan for Kano-Kaduna. Its funded from the budget. The loan of $500 million was taken by the Goodluck Jonathan administration for the Abuja-Kaduna project. So, where is the humongous?
One thing I have been telling journalists, is that you must learn not to listen to me when we come out of Cabinet. Because I may say, ‘We have awarded a contract of $8.7 billion, Lagos-Kano’. They’ll say, ‘oh they have taken $8.7 billion!’ No! I didn’t say we have got $8.7 billion. I’ll say ‘we have awarded a contract of $11.1 billion, Lagos-Calabat’. They’ll say ‘Amaechi has taken $11.1 billion loan!’ I’ll say ‘We have awarded a contract of $1.9 billion, Kano-Maradi’, they will shout.
In fact. let me tell you what they say in politics. They’ll say ‘Amaechi oooooooo! Chai, this man will kill us! Wetin e give Buhari?!’ Abuja to Itakpe, then Sea Port in Warri $3.9 billion.
The only loans we have taken so far as Ministry of Transportation, I don’t know about other areas, is $1.4 billion Lagos-Ibadan out of the $2 billion. Abuja-Kaduna, $500 million which was taken by Jonathan. We have applied for $1.95 billion for Kano-Maradi, and its only $300 million we have taken.
We are working on Kano-Kaduna, that money is ours, not a loan. So, if you add $300 million to $1.4 billion, how much is that? You are talking of $1.7 billion. But, when you journalists write, you say humongous!
We know you may have been asked this question repeatedly, and we know that some of these decisions may not be your sole decision, but Government and policy decisions; but, if the train that bears cargo is more profitable than the passenger trains, why are more vibrant trade routes like Lagos Cotonou, Lagos Kano, Lagos Aba not the priority, instead of the Katsina Niger Republic route? Again, if Government is claiming that many of the bandits are coming from neighbouring countries like Niger Republic, which seems to be a recurring decimal as it shares borders with seven of our States most of which are experiencing security issues, why are we making it easier for them to jump on the train and come to Nigeria to terrorise and brutalise our people? Are there any plans to link the railway with the various Ports to make haulage more efficient? Do you have plans to revive the other ports?
You know you created the impression that this would be a law interview. But you have moved from law to the questions the man in transport (or did he mean to say defence?) should be asking. But I will answer you. I am trying hard not to accuse you of ethnicity.
Because you haven’t not proven that the rail that goes to Benin Republic, is more profitable than the one that goes from Niger to Nigeria.
First and foremost, we have had an agreement with the Niger Government that all their national cargoes will pass through our route. The agreement will be signed next week. That it would get up to Lagos. All they want from us is to guaranty security. You can imagine a whole country giving you all their cargoes! They export Gold, they export Uranium, and that they will encourage private businessmen to use it. They don’t even need to encourage anybody. That there is this impression that Lagos is unsafe. The President said that once we are able to break that perception, their private businessmen would be glad to use Lagos seaport.
When we took the decision for Kano-Maradi, it wasn’t taken lightly. It took us three years. We did the economic analysis. Like people said, the President’s wife is from Niger Republic, or Amaechi’s grandmother is from Niger. The economic analysis I saw, was started under President Goodluck Jonathan, and it was with good intentions.
The second reason is that there is the ECOWAS Protocol on transportation network. ECOWAS allocated to countries certain rails you would do to achieve that ECOWAS network. Ours was that Kano-Maradi. Whether we do it today or tomorrow, you would still have done that Kano-Maradi in fulfilment of the ECOWAS Protocol.
But, ignore that. It has more economic benefits than the one you are talking about. Because, we are in competition with the seaport in is Cotonou or Port Novo. We are in competition with them. So, we can’t be directing our cargo to them, when we need the Lekki Deep Sea Port to survive, I need Lagos seaport to survive. The best thing I can do, is to cut off the train. Because right now, most countries around that region are exporting their goods through Togo, Benin Republic, Ivory Coast and Ghana.
What I am doing now, is to make sure that we are able to compete favourably with those countries. The only reason they are better than us right now, is because no Police is harassing them on the road, no immigration, and no insecurity. So, what we have done is that by providing that rail is to resolve all those problems with immigration, Police harassment and all that. So, you resolve that at the point of entry, which is Maradi. Once they put their goods on the train, they see it in Lagos. We must understand that Government officials make decisions, based on economic realities.
So, will you give me an award for that?!
I am also playing the Devil’s Advocate, because these are things that people say everyday, and the air needs to be cleared on some of these issues once and for all
How many times have I explained? It got so frustrating that I had to ask a question that nobody has given me an answer. The Federal Government did a gas pipeline from Escravos to Ghana, padding through Lagos going through Benin Republic, going through Togo, then to Ghana – 2,000 kilometres and nobody screamed! This one is 45 kilometres into Niger Republic. I didn’t say 450!
But, I think the objection may also be because of security, if you say some of those who may be attacking us are from there. We don’t want to make it even easier for them to gain access to Nigeria, to continue their attacks
The people who are criminals, don’t come through railway. They trek across the border – you can catch them! They just walk into your country, unless you fence off your country.
Why does Nigeria not have a National shipping line?
That is a business decision, and I don’t know why. It’s not a Government decision.
Ok. But, we understand that in our ports, the legal regime, landing cost of goods, taxes, etc makes Nigeria’s shipping industry very unattractive
That is not correct! That is not correct!! You people should stop guessing. Stop these rumours. We are not the worse seaport in Africa. The only problem we have with our seaports, is that we’ve refused to digitalise are seaports, which we are currently doing .
Ok. Are there any plans to link those ports with the rail?
The first thing we did when we came in, was that President Buhari instructed that all the rail lines that don’t link to seaports, should be linked. That we should make sure that all our rail lines end at the seaport. The Lagos-Ibadan starts from Apapa seaport. He asked us to award a new contract, to link Apapa to Tin Can. So that what you can do from Tin Can is that, from Tin Can you come into Apapa, and from Apapa you go with your goods. And, we’ve done that already. Oh, you are happy with that because its Lagos!
No, I am happy with your response. When you do interviews on tv, they may not watch you or they may forget
So, how many people read interviews?
This will be in print. We are online. We have readers in Ghana, Morocco, other parts of Africa, Canada, UK, USA, different parts of the world; Nigerians in the diaspora. These are questions that people ask regularly, and you are giving us the answers which they can always go back and refer to.
On April 9, you declared your intention to run for the Presidency of Nigeria in the upcoming 2023 election under the auspices of your party, APC. However, there have been serious calls to zone the Presidential ticket to the South-East, and you are from the South-South. How do you intend to scale this hurdle?
There is nowhere in APC that that was provided for. Maybe its in PDP you have that. What the APC said is: ‘Zone it to the South, not the South East’. Here in APC, the commitment is to zone it to the South. Whoever emerges from the South, APC will be satisfied.
Being an integral part of this administration whose main achievements can only really be seen in the improvement of the road network, maybe the airports and the railway, this Government seems to have inflicted more hardship on Nigerians. Why should Nigerians vote for you? What exactly will you be offering Nigerians, if you are able to secure our mandate?
You never told me this interview would be on my Presidential ambition. If you did, I would have declined.
But, you have declared
Yes, I have. But, you can declare and go quiet. You are not going to vote for me now. It’s the party that will vote for me now. So, that question you just asked, I will answer it if I emerge as the candidate of the party. If I answer it now, what will I answer tomorrow?
As a two term Governor in a State that had militant activities, you were able to surmount insecurity in your State to an extent. But, it is quite different from the different levels of insecurity that Nigeria is experiencing today. How will you handle the Herdsmen crisis? Banditry and kidnapping? Insurgency? Separatist violence? Since the train attack two weeks ago, there have already been other attacks in Plateau and Benue State.
What is the difference? They are the same killings, the same kidnappings, these are questions you’ll answer after you have emerged as candidate of the party. But, for now, the politics is of who will emerge as the candidate of our party. Why do you want me to say what someone who may vote for me may not like, when I want him to vote for me?
Corruption is the root cause of many of the problems Nigeria is facing today – be it insecurity, an ailing economy, decline in health and educational standards – name it. Your former party PDP stands accused of taking corruption to the next level. Your current party, APC doesn’t seem to be any different. How then can Nigerians trust you to fight corruption, if you are elected?
Nigerians trust me. I am a very honest person! Although, I believe that God is the only honest . But, to a large extent, I believe I am a very honest man. I talk what I mean, and I mean what I talk.
How will you fight corruption?
That is a question you’ll ask, after I have won the election.
We watched in a recent television interview where you stated that the nullification of Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act by the Court remains the extant position of the law until the decision may be overturned by the appellate court. If this is your opinion, why have there been insinuations that you intend to resign your position by the end of the month?
Yes. That is the position of the law. Is there anything to the contrary?
If so why are there insinuations that you are set to resign at the end of the month? Would this not be a contradiction? You are a Lawyer in the making. If you secure the mandate should we then expect a President who doesn’t lend credence to court decisions, if you decide to step down from your office now?
If I decide! Why do you like to make assumptions? You are my friend, have I ever told you I want to resign?
Somebody mentioned it
Who is that person? Somebody who is not my wife? Who doesn’t sleep with me on the same bed? Not my children
NIMASA has for a while now been criticised for its docility, maybe sometimes even not executing its functions properly. A case in point is the inexplicable sinking of a vessel in EFCC custody, NIMASA-BARUGU, which sank in Lagos waters, attributed to negligence on the part of NIMASA. Kindly, comment on this. How can this trend be reversed?
That makes them docile? What about their achievements in curbing piracy? How can you call an agency like NIMASA that has fought insecurity with the Navy to a standstill, docile? The vessel wasn’t in the custody of NIMASA.
Has the Abuja-Kaduna rail resumed service?
That is a good question to ask. The agreement we had is that, the Abuja-Kaduna rail will not move unless there is an Air Force cover following it to the end and back, until we install the security gadgets. Because, if we had installed the security gadgets, we would have seen these men. About five ten minutes before they hit, the train from Kaduna had passed. So, if they had that equipment, they would have seen them, whether at night or not. Once you see 10/20 human beings gathered somewhere…
So, are you going to accede to the request of the Kaduna State Governor, who says there shouldn’t be an evening service?
If running in the evening will cause insecurity, we will stop it; not because Kaduna Governor has said it. But, if we have enough security cover, and we know that lives will be safe…..but the Kaduna Governor’s advice was not bad. The NRC may have assessed the situation at that time, but, maybe there was no security challenge.
What about the issue of the vandalisation of the tracks?
What they are vandalising is the narrow gauge, because they know we are going to remove it. But, they have attempted the standard gauge too, which is very risky. In Lagos, we have to run from Lagos to Ibadan before any train can run because they go to steal the clips. Everyday they steal the clips, I’m not saying some days. So, in one or two weeks you are losing about 10,000 clips.
Thank you Honourable Minister.