The Kano Unity Forum, which comprises over 15 local and specialised groups, has expressed reservations about the resolve of Abdullahi Ganduje, the gov
The Kano Unity Forum, which comprises over 15 local and specialised groups, has expressed reservations about the resolve of Abdullahi Ganduje, the governor, to obtain “colossal loan” from China Development Bank to fund the construction of the phase 1 component of the Light Mono Rail project in the state.
Following the award of the contract for the light rail in 2016, Muhammad Garba, Kano commissioner for information, had maintained that the project will be economically beneficial to the state.
However, in a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari and signed by Bashir Tofa — opponent of MKO Abiola in the June 12 presidential election — the forum alleged that the process involved in securing the loan is not transparent. It said apart from a few people in official circles, nobody else knows the terms and conditions of the loan agreement.
Noting that social infrastructure is essential for improving the quality of life, it said the Ganduje-led administration could“after wide-scale consultations, rightly explore available opportunities to realise this aspiration. The forum, in the letter dated August 19, said it would not allow the government increase the poverty level in the state, adding that if the loan agreement is padded with the intention of diverting its commonwealth, “it would remain indebted to the Chinese for the next 50 or more years”.
“The exact amount being borrowed is shrouded in secrecy: Is it 684 million euros equivalent to over N300 billion alluded by Vanguard 27/7/2020 or N828 billion imputed by a Kano political opposition movement? The nature of the loan portfolio is equally suspicious: Is The loan to be repaid directly by KNSG or are the Chinese constructing the project on Built, Operate and Transfer basis?” the forum asked.
“However, 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. If necessary, we shall immediately engage a technical team of consultants to thoroughly review all components of the Kano deal and compare it with similar Chinese projects in other cities of the world to find its true cost.
“However, should a loan be deemed absolutely essential, we firmly believe that any responsible Government dedicated to benefiting its people would prioritise agriculture, education, skills acquisition, youth and women empowerment, industrial and commercial infrastructure, etc. As critical contributors to economic growth and development, the Kano Unity Forum demands full disclosure of loan agreement details. As citizens, we will employ the Freedom of Information act for this purpose.”
The group added that if the Chinese wants to genuinely help with cheap loans, they should be requested to support critical sectors in the state. It emphaised that rather than spend such amount on building the rail, the money can “conveniently” assist the government to build and develop more infrastructure in the state. It listed projects the government could focus on to include:
“More fully-equipped classrooms with teaching and instructional materials; provide two-three sets of uniforms to all primary school pupils in Kano estimated at 3.7 million (2018/19 annual schools census report); reconstruct and refurbish and fence all the schools to enhance their security and convenience; fully equip General Hospitals in all the 44 LGAs; repair all abandoned road projects requiring attention; provide essential agricultural implements and inputs needed by most farmers.”
“In the event, however, KNSG chooses to remain impervious to this well-intentioned intervention, Kano Unity Forum will diligently pursue court processes and other lawful means to stop the Light Rail project,” it added.