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Did Buhari cancel the Lagos Metroline project due to any malicious intent?

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    In January 1985 when the contract was cancelled, Nigeria was in the middle of a recession, brought on by the necessary belt tightening after the years of reckless excess under the Shagari administration, especially in the election year, 1983.

    In October 1984 for example, Nigeria had unilaterally dropped the price of each barrel of exported Bonny Light crude by $2, thus putting her national interests ahead of OPEC’s cartel interests. Such short term economic pragmatism was the necessary order of the day. And even though it flew in the face of their consensus on prices and production, OPEC’s most important member, Saudi Arabia, acquiesced to such an unprecedented behavior by a member of the cartel because it was convinced of the precarious nature of Nigeria’s public finances.

    Hence, despite over 10% (N80m) of the overall N700m 16-mile overhead railway project being already spent, the cancellation of the contract went ahead as the governing Supreme Military Council (SMC) accused the French consortium leader, Interfina, of excessive project costs. Interfina could not successfully defend such accusations.

    The SMC was also quick to point out that despite Shagari’s accelerated timetable for the move of the Federal Capital to Abuja, new infrastructural spending would now have to proceed at a slower pace.

    1. African Business, December 1984
    2. Financial Times, 28 January 1985
    3. West Africa, 4 February 1985
    4. West Africa, 11 February 1985
    5. African Contemporary Record, (1984-1985)

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