Business Hilights
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Outrage trails FG’s award of N29.2bn roads to Niger Republic borders

Barely 24 hours after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) presided by President Muhammadu Buhari Wednesday announced the award of two roads contracts linking Nigeria’s borders with the Republic of Niger, totalling N29.2bn, many Nigerians have started asking questions if all roads within Nigeria had been delivered before extending to borders.

Besides, they queried the rationale in choosing to start reconstruction of international border roads from Nigerian borders with Niger Republic.

According to many Nigerians, Benin Republic remains a more viable neighbour in terms of economic and social activities more than Niger because nobody goes to anywhere from Niger.

Also, they queried why there had not been any mention of linking Nigeria by road with Cameroon hence the government now has excess fund to be building roads for neighbouring countries.

Business Hilights gathered that one of the roads, Kurnya-Babura-Niger Republic border, is in the sum of N19.7bn, and passes through Jigawa State.

The second road, Bale-Kurdella-Niger Republic border, is through Sokoto State and terminates at the country’s border with Niger.

Additional details showed that the sum of N9.5bn was approved for the road on Wednesday by the FEC.

However, in his defence, the Minister of Works/Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, said the roads would promote business across the borders, but failed to list the products and projected volume of the trade so as to warrant such huge approval when there are several critical roads begging for repairs in-country.

According to Fashola, “It is not only critical to execute our mandate under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) and ministerial mandate to improve infrastructure, but also for the enablement of business across borders particularly now that we have taken an affirmative position of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.

“The market in that area of the country (Nigeria/Niger borders) does a lot of trade across borders. So, this is a good boost for business as well,” the Minister noted.

Far back in 2017, the government also proposed a rail line linking Nigeria and a Nigerien border town. It made a provision for the project in the budget.

However, due to the hot controversies the rail scheme generated government abandoned it even though Nigerians had complained bitterly that it would not serve the country’s safety interest in view of the current security challenges it faced with neighbouring countries especially from across the entire northern fringes.