I have first cousins in Niger: Buhari explains infrastructure expansion to Maradi— 2mins read
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Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday, said the expansion of infrastructure to the neighbouring Niger Republic was to ensure good neighbourliness that would halt the spread of Boko Haram in the country. He, however, admitted that he had first cousins from Niger Republic.
Buhari, while fielding questions in an exclusive interview with Arise Television, said sustaining a good relationship with Nigerian neighbours would help sustain a unified offensive against the dreaded Boko Haram terrorist group.
“I spoke to one Frenchman and I have to tell you this: I said to him, you people in 1885 sat down with ruler and pencil and drew the line. I have first cousins in Niger. There are Kanuris, there are Hausas, there are Fulanis in the Niger Republic. The same way there are Yorubas in Benin,” he responded.
The president insisted that sustaining a good relationship with Nigerian neighbours was a good strategy in winning the insurgency war currently ravaging the West African sub-region.
“How many neighbours do you have? If you could recall when I came, I went to Chad, Niger and Cameroon. Look at what is happening to us from Boko Haram. If we are not in a good relationship with Niger, Chad and Cameroon, Bokoharam would have been a worse hit to us.”
The president, who also sustained his argument of infrastructural expansion to (Maradi) Niger Republic with economic importance of the country to Nigeria, said the country’s latest oil discovery put it at strategic alliance to do business with Niger, rather than go through Benin Republic.
“I told you that the border between us and Niger is one side of 1,500 kilometres. Look at the rail plan, Niger has discovered oil, as you know. We do not want to allow them to go through Nigeria. We hope they would be fine when we take the rail to Maradi and take all their exports through Maradi rather than through the Benin Republic.”
Buhari said that infrastructural expansion was one of the strategies used by his administration to diversify the economy and create opportunities for the youth.
“With the railways working from Maiduguri to Port Harcourt, and from Kano to Lagos, I believe if you make the infrastructure work, I assure you Nigerians will be very busy.”
Most Nigerians have raised concerns on the economic viability of the president’s infrastructural connection to Niger Republic, but the analysts say the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) puts Nigeria in a good position to consolidate trade deals in the sub-region and on the continent, being Africa’s largest economy.
“We must use infrastructure to boost our opportunities in the continent and consolidate our position as Africa’s largest economy in the sub-region,” Associate Consultant to the British Department for International Development Celestine Okeke told The ICIR.
Nigeria’s Minister of Trade Adeniyi Adebayo had earlier revealed that the Nigerian government would ride on its strength to consolidate position as Africa’s largest economy in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement,(AFCTA).