During an interview on Arise TV, Buhari said his decision to build rail lines from Kano to Niger was to allow his family members easily have access to Nigeria.
“I have cousins, family members, etc., in Niger Republic. I shouldn’t just cut them off,” President Buhari said.
The President said another reason the railway is being constructed is to boost the friendly relationship with Niger which has helped Nigeria to prevent Boko Haram terrorists from gaining unfettered access into Nigeria.
“If you recall, when I came, I went to Chad, I went to Niger, I went to Cameroon. Look at what happened with Boko Haram. If we were not in a good relationship with Niger, Chad and Cameroon, Boko Haram would have done worse things to us and you say I am going to Niger.
“I told you the border between us and Niger is 1, 500km. And Niger (sic). I spoke to one French man and I had to tell him this. He spoke nonsense and I told him look, in 1885, you sat down and drew lines (boundaries). I said I have first cousins in Niger. There are Kanuris, there are Hausas, there are Fulanis in Niger Republic just as there are Yorubas in Benin. You can’t absolutely cut them off.”
He argued that the new rail would help Nigeria to compete with Benin Republic which has cornered entrepot trade in the region.
Buhari said Niger, which is a landlocked nation, has discovered oil, and Nigeria does not want them to do trade through Benin Republic.
“We want them to come through Nigeria. We want them to send their exports through Nigeria,” the President said.
KanyiDaily recalls that the Nigerian government had in January 2021 signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the construction of the $1.959 billion Kano to Maradi (Niger Republic) rail line project.
Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transportation, who signed the agreement on behalf of Nigeria, said the rail line is expected to run through Kano, Jigawa and Katsina states and terminate in Niger Republic territory.