Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transportation, has explained why he begged Niger Republic to allow Nigeria extend the $1.95 billion Kano railway into the country.
The railway is expected to run from Kano to Dutse- Katsina through Jibia and will end at Maradi Niger Republic.
Amaechi, who appeared on a Channels Television programme, said Niger is a landlocked country that needs to use ports in other countries to do business. He added that the country prefers to do business in Benin Republic, Togo, Ghana or Ivory Coast because they claim customs charges in Nigeria are too high, the roads are bad and security operatives extort them.
He debunked claims he is favouring northerners, saying his wife is Igbo.
“It is like the shout about Kano-Maradi rail. I said my wife is Igbo. She is not from Maradi. The worst is that they will say I am serving the interest of the North. Let’s assume that is the argument you will make. The worst I can do is stop at Jibia which is the border,” he said.
“To even get to Maradi I had to travel to Niger Republic to even beg them. They are not bringing their money. It is our money. But I’m begging them to allow me access into Maradi.
“Why are they not exporting through Nigeria? They say o, your roads are bad. So, the railway takes care of that. They say customs is difficult, customs will impose charges that are not charged in Benin Republic.
“They say immigration does not allow them. Even when they pass all these, there are police checkpoints on the road, customs checkpoints on the road, immigration checkpoints on the road. Then communities have their own checkpoints on the road, armed robbers attack them on the road. So, they prefer to go where it is safe and cheaper to do business.
“So, all we are saying is we come to Maradi, we build offices, we build a warehouse, you put your things in the warehouse, you deal with customs at Maradi, deal with immigration at Maradi, deal with police, whatever you need to check. Once you put the goods on top of the wagon, it goes straight to Lagos. When it gets to Lagos, straight to the ship because the things you would do in Lagos, you would have done in Maradi.”