During an interview on Arise Television aired on Thursday, the President, Muhammadu Buhari, has defended his decision to construct railways and roads extending into Niger Republic.
According to the President, borders were arbitrarily drawn by the French colonialists without taking into cognizance, the cultural similarities of Niger and Nigeria. He argued that the people of the South-West similarly have cousins in neighbouring Benin Republic.
Another reason the President gave as justification for the construction of railway is to boost the friendly relationship with Niger.
Buhari added, “If you recall, when I came, I went to Chad, I went to Niger, I went to Cameroon. Look at what happened with Boko Haram. If we were not in a good relationship with Niger, Chad and Cameroon, Boko Haram would have done worse things to us and you say I am going to Niger.
The President narrated how he told one French man that the border between Nigeria and Niger is 1,500km. He said, the colonial masters just sat down in 1885 and drew boundaries cutting Nigerians off from their cousins.
“There are Kanuris, there are Hausas, there are Fulanis in Niger Republic just as there are Yorubas in Benin. You can’t absolutely cut them off,” he said.
Buhari further argued that the new rail would help Nigeria to compete with Benin Republic which has cornered entrepot trade in the region. He added that Niger, which is a landlocked nation, has discovered oil, and Nigeria does not want them to do trade through Benin Republic.