By Anayo Okoli
UMUAHIA—A group, Igbo Ekunie Initiative, IEI, has frowned at the exclusion of South-East and South-South geo-political zones in National Railway Project by the Federal Government and described the action as “another example of Chibuike Amaechi and President Buhari’s unpatriotic politics of hate and exclusion”.
The group said that it was very unjust for the Federal Government to borrow huge amount of money for a national project only for some sections of the country to be excluded from the project.
They accused both President Muhammadu Buhari and Transportation Minister, Chibuike Amaechi of deceiving the people of South East and South South with fake promises that the zones were covered by the railway contract only for the funding not to materialize, saying that the APC government practices what they called “apartheid policies of exclusion”.
In a statement signed by its President, Chief Tochukwu Ezeoke and the Secretary, Lawrence Nwobu, Igbo Ekunie Initiative accused the Buhari government of deliberately abandoning the railway contract in the two zones awarded by the regime of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
“The attention of Igbo Ekunie Initiative, a coalition of professionals in Nigeria and the Diaspora has been drawn to a report detailing; the blatant neglect and exclusion of the South East and South-South in the national railway project. This is despite the federal government borrowing billions of dollars and mortgaging the whole nation to a debt that only some sections benefitted from.
“The administration of Goodluck Jonathan awarded contracts in 2011 for Port Harcourt to Aba, Umuahia, Enugu, Oturkpo, Makurdi, Kafanchan, Kaduna and Kuru-Jos, Bauchi, Gombe, Maiduguri.
“Train services were incrementally introduced from 2014 as sections were completed. The contracts were at 85 per cent completion when President Buhari took over in May 2015 and abandoned rehabilitation and construction of the railway line.
“The South West has been enjoying railway services since 2012 with the Lagos to Kano and Lagos to Abeokuta rail lines; the North has had the Lagos to Kano lines since 2012, Kano to Nguru since 2013, Minna to Kaduna, Ilorin to Kano since 2014 and Zaria-Kaura since 2015.
“For over two years, the Minister of Transportion, Chibuike Amaechi repeatedly claimed that the Federal Government was embarking on a new $20 billion Port Harcourt to Maiduguri railway line which turned out to be false when President Muhammadu Buhari denied knowledge of the project during the recent elections.
“We note that in the case of the South East and South South, the minister of transportation Chibuike Amaechi and the Buhari administration have deliberately excluded the South East and South South while deceiving the public to believe otherwise.”