New railway lines: Mr President, sir! For Yobe, an over sight By Ahmad S. Gimba


The recent disclosure by Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, the Hon. Minister of Transport that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the construction of new railway lines, was greeted with strong air of enthusiasm and furor, especially in the areas listed where the modern rail lines would pass through.

Another thing of note was the event which the Minister attended and chose to make the disclosure: the Osasu Show Symposium – which borders on the national economy and its somatic effects on the less privileged. This is a nexus where the common man’s plight is brought forward and critically discussed with the aim of attracting government’s attention. The event was timely and actually wrapped along the President’s thoughts towards the common man.

It is particularly interesting and captivating that the rail lines, according to Hon. Amaechi, would link Port Harcourt and Maiduguri through Aba, Enugu, Makurdi, Jos, Bauchi, Gombe and Damaturu. That is a very good and thoughtful design which would indeed boost economic activities in those areas.

However, it may be put as an oversight on the side of the government that as important and gigantic economic catalyst this project is, it was not looked into properly while considering Yobe State. Some of my reasons may be genuine and practical.

In Yobe State, the economic hub of the state is Potiskum, which was described as the largest cattle market in West Africa. The market has continued to flourish even with the massive onslaught it suffered at the height of the Boko Haram crisis.

Apart from the Potiskum cattle market, the Sunday Central Market is also another giant economic mover in Yobe State. It serves as a sub-regional trading centre having direct connections with Bauchi, Gombe, Yola, and Jalingo. The grains market supplies the nation with one-fifth of the nation’s grain requirement with daily supplies and distribution to the entire nation’s corners. It is also linked and positioned in-between Kano – Maiduguri economic axis, which formed an economic tripod.

Another important feature for enhancing transportation is population. The population of Potiskum, at one time devastated by Boko Haram, has been increasing with sudden explosion. It is witnessing a surge of both rural – urban and urban – urban migration. This may be attributed to its market environment and business effects, especially with the recent emancipation of many areas from the insurgents.

The dominant population in Potiskum are youths of both sexes possessing entrepreneurial skills and business acumen, who need recognition from the Federal Government as well as huge interventions such as the rail projects, which will catapult their energies, efforts and enterprise to the next level and link them properly towards relevant investments and national financial inclusion.

It is the general expectations of all and sundry in Potiskum, that with the emergence of Muhammadu Buhari as President, he would naturally reward them in recognition of the votes they doled out for the all time charismatic Baba.  

In recent times, there is an upsurge and high level planning of the coordinated economic development of Yobe South, under the Yobe South Investment Forum. The elites of Yobe South, in collaboration with those in diaspora are re-structuring the pattern of economic development not only in Yobe South but the whole of Yobe State in mind, which points to the significance of Potiskum in economic activities of the northeast. This has made Yobe State proud and enviable.

Therefore, it is vital for the Federal Government to steer along the coast of the economic development of Yobe State by putting coordinated structures and infrastructures that would ginger the spread of economic manifestations in the whole state. By elbowing Potiskum out of such an amazing and noble topology, it is tantamount to putting a clog in the wheel of the economic development of Yobe State.

This write-up is not only a dutifully patriotic clarion call on our listening President, but a message with echo for our workaholic Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Gaidam, who envisions an economically wealthy Yobe State, and indeed to all the political elites and technocrats of Yobe State extraction. The traditional rulers under the Chairmanship of HRH Alhaji Muhammadu Abali ibn Muhammadu Idrissa, Emir of Fika, should also call for a cursory look on this matter.

 The plea is for the inclusion of Potiskum in the new modern rail topology. The link should accommodate Bauchi – Gombe –Potiskum – Damaturu alongside the proposed and listed stations, so as to clear the oversight.

It is our collective hope that this time, the listening ears (or perhaps the reading eyes) of Baba, will be focused on our special prayer and plea. May God help Baba, 2019 and beyond.

Gimba ( is a lecturer at the College of Busines and Administrative Studies, Potiskum, Yobe State. He can be reached at 08034690268.


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