By Anthony Ogbonna
The verbal altercation between the senator representing Bayelsa East senatorial district, Ben Murray-Bruce and the Kaduna state Governor, Mallam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai, over who should be given credit for the Abuja-Kaduna railway where President Muhammadu Buhari recently commissioned ten new coaches and two locomotives has continued to thicken after the Common Sense Senator returned a latest swipe at him by the Governor, insisting that former President Goodluck Jonathan owns the full credit for building the rail.
While Senator Murray-Bruce maintains the rail was built by former President Jonathan, El-Rufai disagrees and gives the credit to ex President Obasanjo.
According to Murray-Bruce, “Dear Gov, no need for insults. Construction on Abuja-Kaduna rail began on February 2011 and ended on December 2014. Jonathan built it. These are facts. Yes, I held beauty pageants and produced the first Black Miss World which you and I should be proud of.”
Senator Murray-Bruce had equally, earlier tweeted thus: “I hope President @MBuhari remembers to say thank you to former President @GEJonathan for the train ride he enjoyed in Kaduna. Some of us haven’t forgotten that that achievement was ENTIRELY the handiwork of the Jonathan government. Nigeria should give honour to whom honour is due.”
This was after the president plied the rail when he rode in a train while commissioning the coaches and locomotives.
But the Kaduna State governor, El-Rufai had replied him saying however that the former President Olusegun Obasanjo should rather be given credit for the Abuja-Kaduna railway, claiming that the Obasanjo administration “designed, raised the financing and started the EPC of the Lagos-Kano dual track-standard gauge rail system, and the Abuja Light Rail.”
According to El-Rufai, “Wrong Distinuguisnhed Senator! The Obasanjo administration which Jonathan was not part of, designed, raised the financing and started the EPC of the Lagos-Kano dual track-standard gauge rail system, and the Abuja Light Rail. Yar’Adua-Jonathan stalled both projects for two years!”
But the common sense senator replied the Governor saying, “Your dislike of the late Yar’adua may have clouded your judgment. I made no mention of the ‘Abuja light railway’. My tweet referred to the Abuja-Kaduna railway which IS a product of the Jonathan administration. I am happy to publicly debate this with you.”
Governor El-Rufai also returned the blow saying, “There is nothing to debate. Facts cannot be debated. Opinions are free. While the Obasanjo administration was conceiving the rail modernization programme, Sen Ben-Bruce was organizing beauty contests and Jonathan was a deputy governor. I am not cluelessly common-sensical! ~ Nasir.”
Governor El-Rufai gave the reply while responding to a twitter user, Bamikole Omisore with handle, @MrBanksOmishore who had twitted thus, “Won’t mind seeing @elrufai debating @benmurraybruce sha. Our leaders must see debates as opportunity to state their positions and clear the air on issues. Sure @seunokin won’t mind moderating.”
Amidst the claims and counter-claims, a salient question remains for Nigerians with history to answer: Who then built the Abuja-Kaduna rail?