Former managing director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Pa Nathaniel Okoro, has said that the Standard Gauge Railway now operational in the country is the product of his vision. The nanogenerian recalled that in year 2002, former president Olusegun Obasanjo called him from retirement to give the country a vision on the modernization of the nation’s rail transport infrastructure.
In his words, “The train you’re riding, I’m the brain behind it,” Okoro related. “Thank God, in 2002 the President called me to come and give him this vision. I gave it to him. The ministry wanted to attach two consultants to me, I said no, I’m an international consultant. I’ve done work for Tanzania, Uganda, anywhere ”.
Recollecting that the project was launched in year 2006, the former railway chief declared: “We delivered the report in August/September 2006 and the President launched it in Abeokuta in 2006.” Okoro expressed satisfaction that the project has been accomplished.
The former NRC leader stressed the importance of training as an essential factor for the improvement of the quality of workforce, even as he expressed disappointment that history is not taken seriously in the country. “If we had the history of Nigeria, we would have known where we’re going to from the beginning,” he stated.
Sponsors of the event are Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), National Senior Citizens Centre, Abuja (NSCC); Family Ark Mission (Centre for Active Ageing and Networking), and University of 3rd Age Project.
Commenting on the significance of the event, railway district manager, Lagos, Jerry Oche, said it is a way of giving back to the senior citizens from the best they gave to the nation when they were in active public service. In celebration of Pa Nathaniel Okoro’s 90th birthday, the senior citizens presented a birthday cake and a pillow emblazoned with his image on it. David Mark Oludare who made the presentation said the pillow signified comfort.
Emem Omokaro, the director-general, National Senior Citizens Centre, Abuja, attended the occasion; Jide Idowu, Nigeria has first visually challenged radio presenter, among others.
Saxophonist Hezekiah Oduola provided musical entertainment on board the business class coach reserved for the senior citizens. The event was described as the first time in the history of Nigeria that a free merry-go-round train voyage was arranged for the country’s senior citizens. The jubilant senior citizens sang and danced, rejoicing.
Leaving Mobolaji Johnson mega train station, Ebute Metta, Lagos at 8.00 a.m., the train arrived Obafemi Awolowo station, Ibadan the Oyo state capital at 11.07 a.m. from where a delegation of the senior citizens went to the palace of Olubadan who was marking his 93rd birthday. The train began its journey back to Lagos at 4pm.
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