President Mohammed Bazoum of Niger Republic has expressed appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari for approving the $1.96 billion Kano-Katsina-Maradi railway project.

The Nigerien leader, who was on State Visit to Nigeria, made the commendation after a closed door bilateral talks with Buhari in the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Wednesday.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Buhari had in February 2021 performed the ground-breaking ceremony of the Kano–Dutse–Jibia (Katsina State}–Maradi 284km rail project connecting Kano in Nigeria to Maradi in Niger Republic, virtually.

The project, approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in September 2020, is believed to be crucial to rail development in Nigeria and in the West African sub-region.

It is being executed by Mota-Engil Group, a multinational engineering and construction company.

The project, with 15 stations along the corridor, would boost socio-economic activities in Kano, Katsina and Jigawa States in Nigeria as well as Maradi in Niger Republic.

Bazoum said: “On economic issues, we discussed the Kano-Katsina-Maradi railway project and this project is an infrastructure that will integrate the economies of Nigeria and Niger.

“And so I’m here to thank President Buhari, for his efforts at ensuring that this project has taken off and I hope that it will be sustained because this project will radically change the trading exchange between the two countries.

“We also spoke about the gas pipeline in the sense that gas and oil now have become an issue in world politics, in the world economy.”

He also lauded Nigeria for leading the way in funding activities of the Multi-National Joint Task Force, currently maintaining security in the Lake Chad basin.

“My visit coincides with the very big operation that is taking place jointly today in the Lake Chad Basin region against the terrorists and this big operation is being conducted by MNJTF – the Multinational Joint Task Force.

“And as you will know very well the operations of the Multinational Joint Task Force is funded almost entirely by Nigeria. And this operation is meant to help in providing security challenges that both of our countries are facing.

“I want to reiterate my recommendation and thanks to President Buhari, who because of his support this operation is going on and will be very much continuing in future,” he said.

The Nigerien leader expressed optimism that Nigeria and Niger Republic would continue to promote ties in the areas of security and economic development.

NAN reports that the visiting Nigerien leader was also hosted to a lunch by Buhari shortly after their bilateral engagement.