A large gathering of residents assembled at the Maiduguri Railway Terminus to express their dissatisfaction with the relocation of train coaches from Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, to Jos, the capital of Plateau State, for maintenance by the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC).
The protesters carried placards asking the NRC not to move the coaches out of Maiduguri.
One of the protesters, Malam Adamu Ibrahim, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that they suspected that the government was trying to deny Borno of having a train service.
“At the peak of insurgency, the NRC came and took two of the coaches; now they are trying to take everything away. This is unacceptable,’’ he said.
Another protester, Malam Babakura Goni, said the removal of the coaches would deny Borno of critical infrastructure.
Goni noted that the intention of the NRC or the government was not properly understood, noting that there should be transparency in the exercise.
Yet another protester, Malam Babagana Chiroma, said: “This is an economic sabotage of our state. They want to go and renovate the coaches and put them into use in another state.’’
Addressing the protesters, Borno’s deputy governor, Malam Usman Kadafur, sued for patience, assuring that the government was already addressing the issue.
He noted that the protesters were expressing their displeasure over the action of the NRC because there was insufficient sensitisation on its part.
The deputy governor enjoined the Federal Government to look into the possibility of rehabilitating the coaches in Maiduguri and not to take them outside Borno.
Kadafur assured the protesters that the government would not allow the action to be undertaken without transparency.
“The Federal Government should look into the possibility of reviving the rail system to revamp our socio-economic activities.
“This rail terminus in Maiduguri has a history of enhancing trans-Sahara activities with neighbouring countries of Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
“This administration will not allow such action. We are representatives of the Federal Government in Borno.
“If the NRC wanted to engage in such activity, it ought to have informed the state government or even sensitise our people about the move.
“This government will engage with the Federal Government to ensure that things are done in the proper way and transparently,’’ Kadafur further assured.