Key questions this article answers:

1. What does Nigeria’s new law on railway development help states achieve?

2. What obstacles must states overcome to own and operate rail lines in Nigeria?


Great news can be scarce in Nigeria. 

But a few weeks ago, President Buhari hit us with a few. He put the final authorisation on several amendments to Nigeria’s constitution, including moving railways from the exclusive legislative to the concurrent list.

The move means state governments can now deliberate on laws and policies to own and operate rail infrastructure across different states.

Previously, only the federal government could do so. For instance, the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) built and manages Lagos-Ibadan or Abuja-Kaduna rail lines, showing how the Federal Government (FG) wields its exclusive rights to railway infrastructure.

With state governments now able to control railway ownership and operations, the reaction has been positive—state governments are excited. In the same way, citizens and businesses are hopeful that this move will drive better transportation options across the country.

But what does the law mean, and how does it empower states to improve Nigeria’s sparsely paced and inadequate rail development? Let’s get some answers. In addition, we will look at an initiative working towards making some states in the southwest deliver Nigeria’s first regional railway.

A new dawn

On a high level, this new law will ease the bottlenecks state governments experience when seeking approval for rail lines passing through FG lands or other states.

The previous law delayed the commencement of Lagos’ red line, which had plans for interstate operations. One of the reasons for