THE country was shocked to the marrow recently when it became public that the Ghanaian-European Railway Consortium (GERC) had agreed to construct a 340-kilometre standard gauge railway line in Ghana for $2.2 billion. This is against the background of the cost of the 156-kilometre Lagos-Ibadan railway line, handled by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) and put at $2 billion. The implication of this is that while a kilometre of railway line costs $6.5 million in Ghana, the same length costs $13.6 million in Nigeria. It is nothing short of a scandal that the Ghanaian project handled by a European consortium, which is reputed for charging more for infrastructure construction, is far cheaper than the Nigerian contract. We make bold to say that the country has been fleeced through the project, and we are unequivocal in our condemnation of this.
Why would the construction of a kilometre of railway line in Nigeria cost more than double what it costs in Ghana? This certainly is an indefensible rip-off of the country by a few people in connivance with a foreign interest. It is even more perplexing that this fraud is taking place in the life of a government that has made fighting corruption a plinth of its administration. This certainly is a scam of the country. It is a conspiracy of those in government against the people of Nigeria. It is an unpardonable theft of the common patrimony by the perpetrators of the act. This must be condemned by every Nigerian citizen. The civil society cannot afford to keep mute about this. Nigerians must rise as one people against those whose stock in trade is the perpetual pilfering of the commonwealth.
But apart from the differential in the costs of the two projects being a demonstration of a rape on the country, it is also agonizingly symbolic and reflective of the differences between the two countries. It explains why Ghana is advancing and Nigeria is on a retreat. It explains why electricity generation and supply is improving in Ghana while same is worsening in Nigeria. It shows why Ghana is making giant strides in infrastructure and Nigeria is doing a catch up. It explains why international organisations are abandoning Nigeria for Ghana. It shows that while government officials in Ghana are working for the people’s well-being and the good of their country, government officials in Nigeria are all out to corner the nation’s resources. It shows that while the leadership in Ghana protects the country from external extortion, leaders in Nigeria connive with foreign organisations to rob their country. It shows that while government officials in Ghana have respect for the people, leaders in Nigeria hold the people in disdain. Ghana is everything Nigeria is not.
Therefore, we call on President Muhammadu Buhari to rise to this occasion and save Nigeria from the hands of those who are bent on bringing it to its knees. The president cannot keep mouthing his plan to stop corruption without any demonstrable action on his part. Wishes are not enough to address corruption; it requires definite actions. We beseech the president to ensure that this case does not go the way of others before it. Acting on this and bringing to book everyone involved in this horrendous scam will salvage the nation’s image. The government must institute a probe and get to the root of this scam. Everyone connected to it must be exposed. Anything short of this will signal a condoning of fraudulent practices by the president. The president cannot afford to fail on this one. As observed by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, eradicating corruption does not take an eternity to achieve where the will to do so is not lacking. President Buhari must convince Nigerians that he is willing to stop corruption in Nigeria.
President Buhari must understand that when those in leadership are allowed to milk and bilk a country without any consequence, the country weeps and the people groan.