The Trade Union Congress (TUC) on Thursday questioned President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Government for borrowing from the World Bank, IMF and China to finance and build a rail line to the Niger Republic.
In a statement issued on Thursday and signed by the President of TUC, Comrade Quadri Olaleye and the Secretary-General, Musa-Lawal Ozigi, the congress asked for the rationale behind the government’s decision to take a loan in the name of Nigeria but use it to build a rail line to the Niger Republic.
The congress described it as an insult on Nigerians and a waste of the nation’s scarce resources, adding that it has become obvious be the latest move that those ruling the country have ulterior and sinister motives.
In the statement entitled: “Rail construction to the Niger Republic: What for?” the TUC said: “The Congress is not averse to development. Constructing rail lines to Kano, Katsina and Dutse is understandable; but why extend it to the Niger Republic? Why should we borrow from the IMF, the World Bank and China to build a rail line to the Niger Republic? Is there something this government is not telling us?
“How could the Federal Government come up with such an idea in a country where potable water has become a luxury; right to electricity is regarded as a taboo for an average citizen, roads have become death traps and our health facilities lack malaria drugs? That sum – $1.96bn when exchanged at the rate of N380 per dollar is almost N800 billion. This can do a lot in the economy.”
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The statement read: “The outbreak of the pandemic has exposed Nigeria to the world: our federal government was begging for ventilators and nose masks! Our education sector is in shambles. Agreements reached with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) over a decade ago are yet to be met. We are celebrating six decades of independence yet Ghana, South Africa, etc. are threatening and treating Nigerians in their country with disdain. It hurts. It really does!
“According to a report from the Debt Management Office, Nigeria’s total debt rose to $79.5 billion (N28.63 trillion as of the first quarter of 2020). Debt servicing gulps trillions of naira yearly. News had that Nigeria’s sovereignty is at stake if the country fails to pay China! How could the Federal Executive Council (FEC) accept such now? Or, has the Niger Republic annexed Nigeria?
“Government has not completed the road that connects Nigeria with other Western African countries yet the President Buhari-led administration approves construction of a rail line to Niger! What is Nigeria paying for? Or, could this be another way of looting our commonwealth in preparation for the 2023 electioneering campaign? The whole thing is becoming more confusing.
“There are many roads seeking attention throughout the country. The Lagos- Ibadan expressway services every vehicle coming into Lagos, including the ones from Kano, Katsina and Dutse; why has it not been completed? The Niger Delta that lays the golden egg does not have good roads and potable water. They neither fish in their water nor go to the farm because of oil spillage.”
It added: “We must set our priorities right because Nigeria is becoming a laughing stock to the whole world. Tinkering with such ideas at a time the electricity tariff has been increased and fuel price hiked is indeed suicidal. Nigeria should stop playing big brother at the expense of Nigerians. This government is not being fair to Nigerians. Simple.”