Kano elders write Buhari, others over alleged plan by Ganduje to obtain loan from China
Elders in Kano State under the aegis of Kano Unity Forum, on Thursday, expressed grave reservations against the move by Kano State governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje’s administration to obtain loan from China Development Bank to construct phase 1 component of Light MonoRail to service Kano Metropolis.
This was just as the elders advised the Chinese to be wary of giving out the loan, threatening its readiness to ensure the next administration in the state repudiates the agreement altogether and disregard any responsibility for whatever money the Chinese expend on the project.
This was contained in a statement signed and issued by the elder statesman and former presidential candidate under National Republican Convention (NRC), Alhaji Bashir Othman Tofa on behalf of Kano Unity Forum and made available to pressmen in Kano on Thursday.
According to the statement, the petition was sent to President Muhammad Buhari, National Assembly, Embassy of China in Nigeria, Ministry of Finance, Central Bank of Nigeria, China Development Bank, DMO, OAU secretariat and selected media organisations in Nigeria.
The statement explained that “save for few in official circles, no one else knows the terms and conditions of the loan agreement”, adding that “the exact amount being borrowed is shrouded in secrecy”.
“A 1st Phase of the project costing over N300 Billion or maybe even the N828 Billion mentioned by others, coming mostly from a foreign loan is mind-boggling, to say the least. A rethink is not only needed but also necessary.”
In his words “based on the analysis of the present indebtedness of Kano State as provided for by the Debt Management Office (DMO) Nigeria, it is extremely difficult, almost impossible for Kano State to sustain any indebtedness beyond the current liability portfolio of the state.”
Alhaji Tofa hinted “It needs to be noted that a rail project is never a project to be put in haste as we observed that it is neither in the medium nor long term plans of the State Government.
He, however, noted that “If indeed the Chinese want to genuinely help with cheap loans, they should be requested to support critical sectors such as education, health, agriculture, power, science and technology, infrastructure, industry and water supply”.
The elder statesman said, “after all, the Chinese have become world leaders in these aspects of transformative development.”
The group declared that “Kano unity forum would not give any self-serving politician the latitude to increase poverty and deprivation within the general public through ill-conceived public works.”
The Kano Forum cautioned “we shall not be deluded by the attractive idea of a good return from the investment. Rail projects world over are known as highly capital intensive with a very negligible rate of return on investment. It’s more of a social welfare project, especially in less developed economies. ”
The group, therefore, warned that “In the event, however, Kano State government chooses to remain impervious to this well-intentioned intervention, we will diligently pursue court processes and other lawful means to stop the Light Rail project.