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Pulse Opinion Who won rail debate between El-Rufai, Ben Bruce?

Sen Ben Bruce and Gov Nasir El-Rufai have been debating who should take credit for Kaduna-Abuja rail line. What do you think?

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Gwamna jihar Kaduna Nasir El-rufai ya karin haske kan sabbin malamai da gwamnatin sa ke kokarin dauka aiki play

Gwamna jihar Kaduna Nasir El-rufai ya karin haske kan sabbin malamai da gwamnatin sa ke kokarin dauka aiki

(Kaduna State govt)

It’s that time of day when we keep scores as everyone rips their hair out all around us. Senator Ben Murray-Bruce who represents Bayelsa East in the upper legislative chamber and Kaduna Governor Nasir El-Rufai, have been locked in a fierce debate for a while now.

And instead of calling for a truce, we’ve chosen the role of umpire.

The debate has revolved around who should take credit for the Kaduna-Abuja rail line—former President Goodluck Jonathan or incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari?

El-Rufai attacks Ben Bruce over Buhari play El-Rufai, Buhari share a laugh during commissioning of Abuja-Kaduna coaches (Twitter/@BashirAhmaad)


The debate intensified after Buhari flew to Kaduna to commission a few coaches of a locomotive train. When Buhari took a ride on one of the trains alongside the host governor amid laughter, Ben-Bruce lost it and tweeted the following:

“I hope President Buhari remembers to say thank you to former President Goodluck Jonathan for the train ride he enjoyed in Kaduna. Some of us haven’t forgotten that that achievement was ENTIRELY the handiwork of the Jonathan government. Nigeria should give honour to whom honour is due.”

Murray-Bruce mobilises PDP Senators to NASS over Saraki play Ben Bruce says credit for Abuja-Kaduna rail should go to Jonathan (SilverbirdTv)


It took a couple of hours, but when El-Rufai’s response arrived, it had all the makings of a firestorm.

“Wrong, Distinguished Senator! The Obasanjo administration which Jonathan was not part of, designed, raised the financing and started the EPC of the Lagos-Kano dual track-standard gauge rail system, and the Abuja Light Rail. Yar’Adua-Jonathan stalled both projects for two years!”, El-Rufai said.

Ben Bruce who fancies himself a fierce public speaker and debater, challenged El-Rufai to a public spat.

“Your dislike of the late Yar’adua may have clouded your judgment. I made no mention of the ‘Abuja light railway’. My tweet referred to the Abuja-Kaduna railway which IS a product of the Jonathan administration. I am happy to publicly debate this with you”, Ben Bruce said.

Senator Ben Murray-Bruce play Sen Ben Bruce says he loves a good debate (Punch)


El-Rufai’s next salvo was so hot, twitter couldn’t stop retweeting. Basically, the governor said when Obasanjo was conceiving Nigeria’s rail modernization project, Ben Bruce was staging beauty pageants all over the place.


It is little wonder that Ben Bruce felt really insulted by that last shot.

Here’s Ben Bruce for the records; “Dear Gov, no need for insults. Construction on Abuja-Kaduna rail began on February 2011 and ended on December 2014. Jonathan built it. These are facts. Yes, I held beauty pageants and produced the first Black Miss World which you and I should be proud of”.

Audits reveal APC, PDP spent combined N7.7bn on 2015 elections play Goodluck Jonathan hands over Muhammadu Buhari (AFP/File)


There was some ‘jara’ from Ben Bruce:

“When a leader sees a problem, his instincts should be to look for solutions to that problem, not look for who to blame. Ability to solve problems is what makes you a leader. Even if you have a title, you are not a leader if you constantly blame for problems that you should solve”.

Economic realities: Lawmakers have moral responsibility to accept salary cut -- Sen. Sani play Sen Shehu Sani takes sides with Ben Bruce (Leadership)


Meanwhile, on the sidelines, Senator Shehu Sani who never shies away from a  public debate with El-Rufai, was throwing a few punches of his, hoping they land.

“I was born in Kaduna. I live in Kaduna, I represent Kaduna .There was never any modern rail project in Kaduna or from Kaduna except the one started 'to near completion' under Jonathan and now completed by the Buhari govt. If there was any under any other government, perhaps it was invisible”, Shehu Sani said.

Here’s what we know about this whole Kaduna-Abuja rail business

Yes, Obasanjo conceptualized it all, but serious work on the ground began during the Jonathan administration.

The Obasanjo administration designed the project to cover 54 stations. It was going to take 25 years to build the rail system.

Abuja-Kaduna is only but a subset of the Lagos-Kano standard gauge modernization blueprint of the Obasanjo administration; tailored to criss-cross the entire country.

You must step on the toes of your friends – OBJ tells Buhari play Chief Olusegun Obasanjo drew the designs of Nigeria's modern rail network (Premium Times)


Funding problems ($8.3B was required to get the project off the ground and probably see it to completion) ensured that the project never really got off the ground.

So, between 2006 when Obasanjo set the rail project rolling and 2010 when Umaru Yar’adua lost the battle to stay alive, the standard gauge modernization project couldn’t really take off because there was no money to fund it.

Jonathan was president when the construction of the Abuja-Kaduna rail line commenced in February 2011 and was completed in December 2014.

Jonathan urges Nigerians to only speak positively in 2018 play Goodluck Jonathan began ground work of rail line (Facebook/Goodluck Jonathan)


In October of 2014, the nation’s highest decision making organ, the Federal Executive Council (FEC), approved $6.6 million for the procurement of two locomotives for the Abuja-Kaduna subset of the standard gauge rail project.

On July 26, 2016, the Buhari administration flagged off the 187km Abuja-Kaduna rail line. The president has also commissioned a few coaches for the locomotive trains.

From what you’ve just read, who won the Kaduna-Abuja rail debate between El-Rufai and Ben Bruce?

Be totally honest please.

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