Desmond Mgboh, Kano
Kano Unity Forum, a group led by Alhaji Bashir Tofa, former presidential aspirant in the June 12, 1993 election, has opposed the decision of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje to obtain a loan from China Development Bank to fund the construction of the first phase of the Light Mono-rail project in the state.
Commissioner for Information, Mr. Muhammad Garba, recently stated that no amount of criticism would deter government from borrowing to fund the project designed to expand commercial activities and ease transportation of agricultural products across the state
However, in a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari signed by Tofa, the forum which comprises over 15 local and specialised groups, alleged that the process involved in securing the loan was not transparent.
The forum said it would not allow government increase the poverty level in the state, alleging that if the loan agreement was inflated with the intention of diverting the state’s commonwealth, it would remain indebted to the Chinese for the next 50 or more years.
“The exact amount being borrowed is shrouded in secrecy: Is it 684 million Euros equivalent to over N300 billion 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 basis?
“However, Kano Unity Forum would not give any self-serving politician the latitude to increase poverty and deprivation within the general public through ill-conceived public works. If necessary, we shall immediately engage a technical team of consultants to thoroughly review all components of the Kano deal and compare it with similar Chinese projects in other cities of the world to find its true cost.
“However, should a loan be deemed absolutely essential, we firmly believe that any responsible Government dedicated to benefiting its people would prioritise agriculture, education, skills acquisition, youth and women empowerment, industrial and commercial infrastructure, etc.
“As critical contributors to economic growth and development, the Kano Unity Forum demands full disclosure of loan agreement details. As citizens, we will employ the Freedom of Information act for this purpose.”
The group said if the Chinese wanted to genuinely help with cheap loans, they should be requested to assist the state to build and develop more infrastructure for citizens.
“In the event, however, KNSG chooses to remain impervious to this well-intentioned intervention, Kano Unity Forum will diligently pursue court processes and other lawful means to stop the Light Rail project,” it added.