Which political party should take the credit for the Abuja – Kaduna rail project commissioned last Tuesday by President Muhammadu Buhari? The standard wisdom has been that government is a continuous business. By implication, conception of a project does not earn for the regime which did so the credit for it because the notion of government as a continuous project anticipates intervening variables between conception and completion. Now, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is claiming ownership of the concept, initiation and construction of the Abuja – Kaduna Standard Gauge Rail Line Project and, therefore, the credit for the project. Is the party just playing politics or raising a key issue?
The history of the project as traced by the PDP in its statement by Dayo Adeyeye, the party spokesperson, gave the conception, award of the contract as well as the construction to administrations headed by presidents elected on the platform of the PDP. The party is thus saying that the APC regime added no value to the project to claim credit. It could not have stalled the project at the point it displaced the PDP without risking popular queries.
Prolonged military rule has meant that this sort of question never popped up before. That is the question of which party takes credit for a project not only conceptualised but its construction supervised up to a point. It is an issue since parties rise and fall on the basis of projects they execute and the difference such project(s) make. It is also an issue because it involves railway. There is hardly any other thing beyond railway and electricity on which any political party can stake its claims to popular interest, even in the developed world. On this score, therefore, PDP seems to have raised a major issue to be debated and settled in the Nigerian context. It would have been like it if we were talking of a real mega rail project, after 16 years of PDP. Nevertheless, it could still be interesting to hear APC and other Nigerians respond to this challenge.