National Republican Convention (NRC) candidate in the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election, Alhaji Bashir Tofa, has told Kano State Governor Abdullahi Ganduje that the state needs no white elephant project like the proposed light rail.
The project, which has been awarded to China Railway Construction Corporation at a whopping $1.85 billion, reportedly had the nod of the presidency and the National Assembly.
Tofa, at the weekend, faulted the governor’s plan to get loan from Chinese Development Bank for the project, contending that the project might not be of any profound value to Kano residents.
BESIDES, a Tofa-led group had petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari, the National Assembly, Debt Management Office (DMO) and Chinese government not to allow Kano government embark on a “white elephant project” that would rather enslave the state for the next 50 years.
But Ganduje argued that the light rail project was conceived out of genuine interest for the state’s socio-economic development.
Regardless of concerns, he insisted that “there is no going back on the project already signed and sealed.”
The governor said there was no way, the presidency and other stakeholders, already petitioned by the group, could prevent the execution of the project “because Buhari was duly briefed and the approval of the loan went through normal procedure at the National Assembly, Ministry of Finance and others.”
In a petition signed by Tofa, the group said that details of the project were still shrouded in secrecy.
“The exact amount borrowed is shrouded in secrecy: is it 684 million euros equivalent to over N300 billion reported in the media 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 (BOT) basis.
“Social infrastructure is essential for improving the people’s quality of life, and the Ganduje administration could, after wide consultations, rightly explore available opportunities to realise this aspiration,” the group stated.
However, Ganduje who responded through his Special Adviser on Media, Saliu Tanko Yakasai, insisted that the term and condition of the loan followed due process, emphasising that nothing was hidden in the whole process.
He put the loan secured for the project at $2 billion against the $1.8 billion announced in 2017 when the deal was initially struck.