President Muhammadu Buhari has explained his administration’s reasons for contracting railway and roads linking Nigeria to Niger Republic.
The President in an interview with Arise Television on Thursday said there are cultural similarities between the people of Niger and Nigeria, revealing that he has first cousins in Niger Republic.
Buhari added that the railway is also being constructed to enhance the cordial relationship with Niger which has helped Nigeria to prevent Boko Haram terrorists from gaining unfettered access into Nigeria.
“I told you the border between us and Niger is 1, 500km. I spoke to one French man and I had to tell him this. He spoke nonsense and I told him look, in 1885, you sat down and drew lines (boundaries). I said I have first cousins in Niger. 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,” Buhari said.
The President said that the new rail would help Nigeria to compete with Benin Republic which has cornered entrepot trade in the region.
He said Niger has discovered oil, and Nigeria does not want them to do trade through Benin Republic.
“We want them to come through Nigeria. We want them to send their exports through Nigeria,” the President said.