Akeem Lasisi and Sesan Olufowobi
vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday said Nigeria would need $2bn (N610bn) to revive the Lagos-Kano rail line as part of efforts to boost local and international trade along the northern and southern zones.
Osinbajo, who spoke at the opening of the inaugural edition of the Lagos-Kano Economic and Investment Summit in Epe, Lagos, said the Federal Government, in partnership with a private firm, General Electric, was proposing to invest in the project to enhance the movement of cargoes from Apapa ports to Kano by rail.
He expressed optimism that the collaboration between Lagos and Kano states would open up the investment opportunities in both states to local and international investors
Osinbajo stated, “I believe that Lagos and Kano states have, by this collaboration, underscored the cornerstone of the Federal Government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan; namely the leveraging of synergies among states and between the government and the private sector.
“For us, what this means, especially in the context of Lagos and Kano collaboration, is the refurbishing of the narrow gauge Lagos to Kano rail line with a concession to General Electric, which is proposing to invest almost $2bn to ensure that the rail route is effective for the movement of cargoes from the Apapa Port to Kano.
“Similarly, we are investing in the Lagos to Kano standard gauge line; the Lagos-Ibadan portion of that is expected to be ready by the end of this year. Also, we have budgeted N80bn for the development of special economic zones in the six geo-political zones of the country.”
Osinbajo also said that the Federal Government would support state governments in the reformation of their economies.
According to him, such efforts will include partnerships among the states.
Describing the summit as strategic, he said, “The Federal Government is enthusiastic about the collaboration between the governments of both states. Cities, not countries, will propel the economy in the future.
“As the Federal Government, we have been careful not to hold information from states. We will pay serious attention to the outcome of the summit and support efforts of states to reform their economies.”
Osinbajo commended Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State and his Kano State counterpart, Alhaji Abdullahi Ganduje, adding, “Any serious economic planning must take the Lagos-Kano connection seriously.”
Ambode said with the current economic challenges facing the nation, there was no better time for states to begin to look beyond an oil-driven economy and take advantage of their comparative advantages to engender economic growth.
The governor stated that with the summit, the Lagos State Government was building on, the strategic collaborations it had earlier made with other states and regions.
Among such, according to him, are the decision to join the O’dua Investment Company and the partnership with Kebbi State on rice production.
“The message for other people is that we can grow the GDP for Nigeria from within and among the states,” he explained.
Ganduje expressed the optimism that the summit would boost productivity and revenue generation.
“Kano State sees the summit as a mechanism for building trust and prosperity for our people,” he stated.
Ganduje stated that he was looking forward to effective partnership in infrastructure, agricultural value chain, solid minerals, ICT, commerce and industry, Small and Medium Enterprises, and tourism, among others.
On his part, the President, Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, said, “Our refinery, petrochemical, fertilizer and gas projects will generate N8tn per annum for Nigeria when fully on stream.”
In his keynote address at the event, the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi, said that Lagos and Kano stood unique chances to positively influence not just the national economy, but also the regional economy.
He urged Nigeria and the two states to take advantage of moves by President Donald Trump to change global trade rules in favour of the United States of America.
This, according to the emir, can be done by rethinking regional responses to globalisation.
“The industrial base of Africa is being wiped off by China’s cheap goods. What can Lagos and Kano states do to attract Chinese investments? Our government has not created a strategy for dealing with China,” Sanusi added.
Dignitaries at the summit, including the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu; and Managing Director, Yinka Folawiyo Group, Mr. Tunde Folawiyo, commended the governors for conceiving the summit and expressed the belief that it would advance the states’ and national economies.
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