Nigerian peacekeepers on pre-deployment training at the Nigerian Army Peacekeeping Centre, Jaji

Nigerian soldiers

Thursday, 27 December 2012

The Nigerian Army yesterday transported about 450 of its new regular recruits that graduated recently from the training depot in Zaria by train to Lagos.

Speaking to journalists while flagging off the recruits’ dispatch exercise, the Nigerian Railway Corporation’s District Manager (RDM), Northern District, Mr Adekunle Ayeni said the evacuation of the soldiers is part of the corporation’s efforts to assure Nigerians that rail transportation is back with quality and reliable services.

Ayeni said the Zaria-Lagos journey is expected to take about 25 hours hence the 450 soldiers are expected to arrive Lagos tomorrow afternoon.

“As the train leaves Zaria now at 1:15p.m., it is expected to arrive Lagos by 2:15p.m. tomorrow. We want to use this medium to plead for patronage from government agencies, private organizations and individuals as their contribution towards the revitalization of the rail system in the country,” he said.

While commending the efforts of the federal government at reviving the railways, the RDM appealed for more funding to enable the Corporation serve Nigerians better.

“The essence of re-introducing the rail services in the country is to provide efficient and effective means of transporting goods and people across Nigeria. What we are seeing today confirms our MD’s assertion that railway is back to serve our people better. This we have done before and will continue to do in a more excellent manner,” Ayeni said.


About beegeagle

BEEG EAGLE -perspectives of an opinionated Nigerian male with a keen interest in Geopolitics, Defence and Strategic Studies


  1. peccavi says:

    Well let me make a point here.
    The key German strategic nightmare is a war on 2 fronts. It has been their fear since the 19th century as as early 20th century proved is a genuine fear. They cannot hope to defeat the 2 most powerful continental land armies (France and Russia) at the same time.
    In order to compensate for this they came up with a plan that catered for this. As France was the closest, most modern and capable force, they needed to defeat them first take their capital and achieve a peace deal all before the Russians fully mobilise and deploy.
    In 1914 the essence of this plan was the highly efficient network of railways that got German troops from their mobilisation points to their jump off points, brought up supplies and got them launched into the attack before the British and French could get going, all the while the Russians were doing whatever it is Russians do.
    The plan would have worked but for the Battle of the Marne.
    This is the importance of infrastructure to national defence, interior lines used efficiently can be a decisive factor in conflicts. The calls for investment in education, health and infrastructure are not the bleatings of a limp wristed pacifist but realistic strategic calculations.
    With efficient transport infrastructure we can deploy and mobilise troops and move supplies easily.
    With functioning refineries we can reduce our foreign exchange expenditure, reduce the sea traffic and delay times for ships thus making the anti piracy task easier
    With an end to gas flaring, cleaning up oil spills we provide employment and with eco tourism and fishing and farming restarted in the Delta we divert the youths from mischief
    With constant (or at least predictable) power supply industries can thrive provide employment and reduce our dependence on imports
    With an efficient health sector we have a healthy workforce
    With an educated workforce we reduce this stupid love for expatriate this and that. Soon we will have expatriate street sweepers.

    As an interesting aside the Germans repeated their plan (with refinements) in 1940, however The Russians were kept on side with treaties rather than relying on their inefficiency. As we well know things did not necessarily turn out as planned, but on the plus side the autobahns built by Hitler still exist till today and were a great advantage to the Soviets and Allies on their advance.
    So another plus for infrastructure engineering!

    • jimmy says:

      You have spoken well and Happy new year to the family
      1) Education
      2) investment in key infrasture elements, power, water, roads
      3) clean up of the Environment
      4) Tourisim
      5) Strong political LEADERSHIP
      This is the blue print however and i have the utmost respect for you because just as i have followed beegeagle i have followed ISRAEL’S GENERALS and greatest officers ( moshe dayan, EHUD BARAK, MUKI BESTER(SP), YITZHAK RABIN) they have always been the ones to make the reasonable calls for peace just like yourself but it has BACKED UP BY a very strong MILITARY.
      Security is paramount for those five things to occur. I had /have uncles and friends some are still serving and most will tell you the worst thing that could of happened to Nigeria was the miltary during the 1990s where sanctions and hyper paranoia reigned supreme.
      Even now as much as i crticize G.E.J. he has done a lot more than he two predecessors but it is not enough he needs to do more especially and more critically when it comes to the NAVY/ ARMY/ AIRFORCE.

  2. Spirit says:

    Oga Peccavi and Oga Jimmy has spoken well. No nation can really boast of having a strong military without proper tranportation infrastructures, electricity, education, industry (esp steel), health etc. These things are powerful force multipliers.

    But I want to draw our attention to the fact that TRAINS AND THEIR TRACKS ARE VULNERABLE TO ATTACKS due to the underlisted reasons;
    1) Railtracks are immovable. Hence, they can be easily sabotaged.
    2) Trains (unlike other transit entities) must alway travel linearly. They cannot maneuver off the track. Hence their position are highly predictable and they can be easily attacked with remotely-controlled or timed IED.
    3) Trains (even with one coach) are big targets that any serious minded terrorist can easily hit with a RPG at reasonable distance.
    4) Our train stations are not adequately manned by security agents, I doubt if there are bomb/ detectors etc.This makes our trains susceptible to suicide bombing or even a chemical attack (remember the Sarin-gas attack in Tokyo, 1995)
    5) The manner in which passengers enter the trains is too disorderly. Trains are always overcrowded to the extent that passengers even sit on the roof!. Imagine an attack on such a train that has no manifest.
    6) I dont know much about the new tracks but the old tracks had too many sharp curves and very short sight distances. Also,the tracks were almost overgrown with weeds in many places. These situation affords terrorist ample ‘cover’ to execute their dastardly acts.

    I strongly suggest that Nigeria Railway Corporation and our security agencies should take an holistic view of the security of these trains with a view to ensuring that;

    1) Plain-clothe security agents(Train Marshalls?) are on every train.
    2) Every passenger/luggage passes through secuity doors/metal/bomb detectors before boarding trains.
    3) Bushes near tracks are cleared.
    4) Manifest are accurate and well kept.
    5) CCTV cameras are in each coach.
    6) Transponders/transmitters are in every train that will help locate the train in emergencies.
    7) Trains control rooms should be reinforced and made impregnable to highjackers.
    8) Train drivers/engineers should be trained in basic security stuffs.
    9) There should be panic buttons in every train.
    10) As the trains moves from one point to another, the responsibility for its security is passed from one competent police zone to another based on their jurisdiction. this will enhance rapid response during emergency.

    Im sure my generals will have loads of suggestions on how to secure our trains.

    The trains are back, lets keep them safe.

    God bless Nigeria.

  3. Yagazie says:

    Nice analysis Peccavi, I totally agree with you.

    Comming closer to home, the then Aparthied regime in
    South Africa built an excellent network of highways in the 1960s/1970s, the idea being that it could move its security forces quickly to hotspots (areas where the local black populations could stir up protests against the regime) – these highways today form the backbone of South Africa’s highway network. The South Africans also have a good railway network (accounting for about 80% of Africa’s rail infrastructure).

    Rail remains the most efficient mode of transport for moving bulk/heavy military equipment like tanks, APCs, artillery pieces as well as large bodies of troops. It is thus in our strategic intrest to have our railways revived/mordenised. The FG has made a good start by reviving the Lagos-Kano narrow gauge railway line. Lets hope the good work continues.

  4. beegeagle says:

    Hmn, I watched footage of this on NTA News tonight, flagged off by Transport Minister, Senator Idris Umar and NRC MD, Engr Sijuade.

    At the Lagos end, I was surprised to observe that some of the travellers were rather sophisticated folk. As the yellow-coloured train christened “Goodluck Jonathan” journeyed through the night, an armed cop stood in the walkway and kept an eye on developments. One of the travellers was tapping the keyboard of a laptop computer, others were playing a board game while a little girl slept comfortably nearby. Strict checks were also conducted before boarding but that did not surprise me. Even in the 1980s, we already had dedicated police units such as the Railway Police, Ports Police and Marine Police commands, so that really cannot claim not to have the manpower or nationwide network necessary for the security operations entailed in this. That said, it was nice to have had armed escorts on board still.

    For the 970km Zaria-Lagos hop, boisterous-looking military chaps with back packs and all, boarded the train for the long trip to Lagos. The snap decision by the NA to use this rail service immediately was a good one. That is the patriotic standard.

    The good thing about this is that crosscountry luxury buses taking off from Lagos to Kano(1,125km) and Jos(1,081km) typically depart at 2pm and travel through the night in the hope of arriving at their destination by or before noon of the following day(about 22hrs).

    This 25 hr train service which should ordinarily be a safer means of travelling crosscountry therefore appears to be a competitive one. In my lifetime, we have known trains which did the Lagos-Kano lap in 2-3 days.

  5. peccavi says:

    @ Oga jimmy, happy New Year to you and yours as well!
    Securing the railways will be an issue, depending on whether they become a target or not but it will be expensive. However its cheaper than losing a train. For now I would suggest relatively benign measures such as armed police riding on the trains and patrolling the trains. Police at each stop etc. Also along each section of the line select local people as railwaymen, they will be given 1-2 km sections to look after, their job will be to cut back the grass and bush from the line, walk the line several times a day looking for defects or obstructions. They should be given simple camera phones with a simplified text code to send through daily status messages. Not only does this ensure the railway os always under observation and provide employment it aids maintenance
    Once a credible threat to the railway is brought in then a specialised branch of the Police should be brought in for the Railways and I’f suggest the highways as well

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