By Christiana Esebonu | Sep 18, 2008
Railway expert, Mr Rowland Ataguba, a Nigerian diasporan technocrat with extensive experience in the U.K. privatisation and operation of its railways, has cautioned against any euphoria over the allocation of N15billion in next year’s budget for the Nigeria Railways Corporation by the Hon. Minister for Transport, Mrs Deizani Allison Madueke.
Addressing attendees at the recently-concluded Railway Stakeholders Forum at the Transcorp Hilton in Abuja, he advised that there was no detail what the money was for but was to only a drop in the ocean of what was required to rejuvenate the ailing industry.
He enquired, “Is anyone willing to volunteer what to expect at the end of the first year under these plans?” during the session chaired by Dr Hakeem Baba Ahmed, Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
Ataguba also said: “We have made a committee report to the Hon. Minister but there is no detailed information as to the findings of this committee.”
He advised the forum: “I am troubled that we seem to be focussing too narrowly on symptomatic issues”.
As he saw it, there are two environments – the internal railway industry and the external environment.
He advised that fixing only the internal environment may lead to little progress as the external environment has an overwhelming impact on the internal.
The government and its agencies, the customers and the Nigerian population in general all exert influences that may cause any initiative to fail.
He advised that the key challenges in the external environment were political, economic, sociological and technical.
He alluded that the various changes in the industry’s history had coincided with changes in government.
He cited the RITES of India initiative as during Shagari’s government, Ogbemudia’s initiative during Babangida’s, CCECC as during Abacha’s government with the moribund modernisation project as during Obasanjo’s.
“One of the key challenges becomes how do we ensure that a policy is carried forward by succeeding government’s without this stop-go approach?”