Published on Oct 13, 2017 Greenbarge Reporters
President Muhammadu Buhari has assured governors of the five states of the Igbo speaking Southeast, the President of Ohanaeze Ndi’Igbo, John Nnia Nwodo and other stakeholders from the Southeast that he is determined to wipe off their tears of marginalisation soon by constructing more roads and coastal rail projects in the region.
Speaking today, Friday, when he granted audience to the stakeholders, led by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, the President said that the 2nd Niger Bridge, the East-West Road and the Coastal rail project are also currently receiving utmost attention from his administration.
The President said that counterpart funding from the Chinese government would substantially fund these projects, which when completed will improve the welfare, well-being and economy of the people in the Southeast region.
“I know the Chinese are very competent in handling such projects and we will ensure that we get the money for the projects to take off.
“I thank you for articulating your demands and I want to assure that we are doing our best for the country. If we can stop people from stealing, then there will be more resources to put into projects that will create employment for Nigerians.”
Responding to allegations of under-representation of Igbos in his government, the President said: “I gave Southeast four substantive ministers in the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Investment, Science and Technology and Labour.
“Seven states in the North got Ministers of State and of the two Ministries headed by your sons, I cannot take any decision on foreign policy and investments without their input.”
The President also promised the leaders that he will visit the states in the region soon, saying: “I want to assure you that I came into government with a clear conscience and I will also leave with a clear conscience.”
Earlier, the President of Ohaneze, John Nwodo had articulated the demands of the region to the President, highlighting the issue of state creation, restructuring, federal projects in the Southeast, namely: Enugu-Onitsha road, Enugu-Port Harcourt road and Aba-Ikot-Ekpene road, among others.
Nwodo also demanded urgent presidential interventions on the Enugu Airport, reticulation of the gas-pipelines in the South East and the standard gauge plan for railway construction.
Commending the President’s remarkable achievements on security and the fight against corruption, Nwodo declared: “we are ready to work with you. We are determined to work with you. We know you are a decisive leader and we know God will continue to give you the wisdom to govern Nigeria.”
Also speaking, Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State expressed satisfaction on the outcome of their discussions with the President on critical issues and topics affecting the region.
“You have no hatred for any state. You have treated all states with equality. What one state gets in the north, the other gets in the south,’’ the governor said, referring to budget support facility and stabilisation fund released to states and local governments since the inception of the administration.”
Speaking to newsmen shortly after the meeting, Ohanaeze President General, Nwodo described their meeting with President Buhari as being frank and robust.
“We discussed problems of the Southeast and as head of state, he is the finale repository of an appeal for the resolutions of those problems. We went into great details about each of those problems and I have confidence that they will give it the attention there deserve.
“We dealt with problems of development in the Southeast, basic capital projects which have for a very long time been neglected, not just by this government but for a very long time. Major arteries of federal highways in the Southeast have been in complete state of disrepair.
“Enugu-Onitsha, Enugu-Port Harcourt, Aba-Ikoyi Ekpene are virtually impassable.
“We talked about the inland waterways and the dredging of the River Niger. We talked about the reticulation of gas pipeline on the south-east. We export gas from the south-east to the other parts of the country, but there is no reticulation of the pipeline and industrial clusters in the south-east.
“We talked about the only international airport we have in the Southeast which has very bad.
“We got assurance from the President that he will deal with each of those problems.
On the issue of marginalization, Nwodo said that the issue was the opening line which they singled out, insisting however that the problems have been there overtime “and we have had several Presidents; it didn’t just happen in the last two years. But we expressed the desire that he should be able to address them.”
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