Legal Reform: Good News for the Nigerian Railway Sector

re posted from                                        CORBE GROUP

This new law is pivotal to the formalization of the reform and restructuring of the railway.


By Rowland Ataguba,           9 June 2023

Rowland Ataguba

This paper reviews the implications of the constitution amendment for the Nigerian railway industry. It reviews the historical performance of the sector and posits that the reform and restructuring of the industry and the prioritization of railfreight is a sine qua non for its turnaround and long term sustainability.

A watershed moment was reached in the Nigerian railway on 3 March 2023 as the then President Muhammadu Buhari assented and signed into law, the railway constitution amendment also known as the Constitution Amendment 5th Alteration (No.16) Act. It is described as an Act to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 to move the item, “railways” from the exclusive legislative list to the concurrent list and for related matters.

Schedule of the railway constitution amendment

It was a moment of triumph for campaigners and advocates of railway reform in Nigeria. The journey to the railway constitution amendment act began in a rather innocuous way. Advertisements had invited memoranda for the constitution amendment exercise and I obliged with a “Memorandum for a constitution amendment to transfer railways from the exclusive to the concurrent legislative list” dated 14 September 2020 to the Constitution Review Committee (CRC) of the National Assembly, a joint committee of both houses of the legislature chaired by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege. The outcome of my memorandum is the constitution amendment that we celebrate today.

The process for the amendment of the Nigerian constitution is complex and rigorous and this would be the 5th amendment exercise on the 1999 constitution, perhaps the most significant for the railways. Considering also that transferring the railways from the exclusive list to the concurrent list was first muted about 20 years ago, it has certainly been long in coming. History had indeed been made.

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