For Africa’s most populous nation’s rail transport, a new horizon beckons, a new opportunity to actualise a good transport network that will ease the burden the people have suffered years embarking on journeys. The dream of Nigerians having a railway network like the one found in advanced nations for mass transportation is finally here with us as the the flag-off of commercial services of the Abuja-Kaduna railway project by President Muhammadu Buhari is taking place today, 26th July 2016.

This is ground breaking for us as the benefits to the economy are huge. More importantly, it shows the total commitment of the present Buhari administration to revive the transport network in the country.

(1) The Modernisation programme commenced in 2006, with the signing of agreement between Nigeria and the CCECC for construction of a standard gauge Lagos-Kaduna line costing $8.3 billion, being part of a total repackage for the upgrade of the entire rail system to standardise gauge over a 25- year period. The project include the Port Harcourt-Kano line and an additional one, Lagos-Calabar line (East-West) line.

(2) The counterpart funding was faulty on the part of Nigeria, while it contravened the law.

(3) The government of late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua discovered that the contract did not follow due process and that the project was inflated.

(4) Yar’Adua visited china and re-negotiated and re-scope the entire project. Partners agreed to first, get the services back and them construct standard gauge lines. The project was segmented. The completion date of rehabilitation of Lagos-Kano and Port Harcourt-Maiduguri lines was December 2011.

(5) Rehabilitation work started while a Chinese delegation came to Nigeria to commence on-site assessment and preparatory work on first phase of the now segmented standard gauge Abuja-Kaduna line in July 2008 and to finalise it in 2009.

(6) Contract for the Abuja-Kaduna standard rail project was awarded in 2010 but the actual construction did not start till 2011. It is an 874 million dollar project with the Exim Bank f China’s facility of $500 million, while Nigeria was to pay the rest. The Project was scheduled for completion in 2014.

(7) But Jonathan’s administration reneged on counterpart funding of the project, leading to extension of completion period. It was typical of the Jonathan’s government.

(8) Almost all capital projects inherited by the administration were not adequately funded in spite of their strategic importance to the nation, and in spite of the large amount of monies Nigeria made from the high price of crude oil throughout his regime.

(9) Jonathan did not initiate the project, not to talk of completing it. He indeed, inherited it and had the opportunity of completion to take the glory, he blew the opportunity.

(10) When Buhari came in 2015, there were outstanding payments which stalled the project. Buhari paid off and worked commenced and is now completed due largely to the seriousness Buhari attached to it.

(11) The Second phase of betrayal of terms of agreement befell the Rail Modernisation project, Lagos-Ibadan dual track standard gauge line. The contract was awarded in 2012 and to be completed in 2015. Federal Executive Council on July 18th, 2012 approved the sum of $1.457 billion as the project contract sum on 36 months completion period. The project was abandoned by Jonathan after $13 billion appropriated in the 2012-2013 and 2014 budget with nothing to show for the sums.

(12) Yet again, the Buhari’s administration is to the rescue. On July 02, the government renegotiated and agreed on the commencement of the project and that of the East-West line (Lagos, Port Harcourt, Calabar) at a reduced sum of $11.117 The $800 million was saved for the country.

(13) Now Buhari is to take the glory in two years’ time when the Lagos-Ibadan project would have been completed. It is not for wailing wailers to weep, it is for them to realise that Jonathan bungled available opportunities to complete the projects and earn a good name.