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Why we constructed rail to Niger Republic – Buhari

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The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has defended his decision to construct railways and roads extending into Niger Republic.

He said it was to boost the friendly relationship with Niger which has helped Nigeria to prevent Boko Haram terrorists from gaining unfettered access into Nigeria.

Buhari said this during an interview on Thursday on Arise TV.

The president added that there are cultural similarities between Nigeria and Niger which the French colonialists failed to recognise before arbitrarily drawing borderlines. He revealed he even has first cousins in the Niger Republic.

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He argued that the people of the South-West similarly have cousins in neighbouring Benin Republic.

Buhari added, “If you recall, when I came, I went to Chad, I went to Niger, I went to Cameroon. Look at what happened with Boko Haram. If we were not in a good relationship with Niger, Chad, and Cameroon, Boko Haram would have done worse things to us and you say I am going to Niger?

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“I told you the border between us and Niger is 1, 500km. And Niger (sic). 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 the Niger Republic just as there are Yoruba in Benin. You can’t absolutely cut them off.”

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He argued that the new rail would help Nigeria to compete with Benin Republic which has cornered entrepot trade in the region.

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