The Governors of the 11 States that make up the South-East and South-South geo-political zones of the country have decried the deplorable state of federal roads in the two geo-political zones.
The governors also regretted that none of the airports and seaports in the two geopolitical zones was functioning reasonably while none of the states in the two zones is linked in the country’s rail services.
The governors, in a communiqué issued in the early hours of last Sunday after the second meeting of the South-East/South-South Governors’ Forum at Government House, Port Harcourt, said the only federal presence in the two geo-political zones was the presence of policemen.
The communique, which was read by the Chairman of the forum and Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, condemned emerging trend where approvals for investments in the oil and gas industry were granted for siting in other parts of Nigeria and with laying of pipelines in deep waters rather than siting the projects in the areas that produce the resources.
The forum expressed concern that despite providing the necessary logistic support to the security agencies, perceptions of insecurity are on the rise, thereby doing significant damage to investments climate and preventing reasonable inflow of direct foreign and local investment into the regions.
The communique reads in part, “Concerned about the reality of the dearth of infrastructure, the forum noted with dismay: the deplorable state of federal roads in the two regions. That none of the airports and seaports located in our regions is reasonably functional, and that neither of the two regions are linked by any rail services.
“That the federal presence in the regions is very minimal and only noticeable in the presence of policemen. The emerging trend where approvals for investments in the oil and gas industry are granted for siting in other parts of Nigeria with laying of pipelines in deep waters rather than siting the projects in the areas that produce the resources.
The forum resolved: “to pursue inter-regional cooperation and integration for the common good of the regions’ people, and to work together politically, align and re-align as a people that share common heritage, culture and affinity”.
It also agreed “to articulate and advocate issues affecting the wellbeing of the regions. The issues may not necessarily materialize immediately, but for the benefits of future generations.
The forum further resolved “to continue to subscribe our faith to the destiny and greatness of Nigeria, and call upon Nigerians to put their hands on the plough and rise to claim our rightful place in the comity of nations.”
It specifically “condemned hate speech in national discourse whether in individual communication or utterances of political actors or parties”, and “urged security agencies to set up joint border patrols and develop more proactive strategies in combating crime and criminality.
The governors also resolved “to urge the Federal Government to come up with a clear policy on concession of federal roads and to fast-track the process in order to ameliorate the sufferings of the people of the regions.”
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has decried the decay and backwardness of infrastructure in the South-South and South-East part of the country.
Speaking when he played host to governors from the two geo-political zones in Government House, Port Harcourt, last Sunday, the Rivers State governor pointed out that the two zones were the most politically and economically marginalized within the nation.
The governor noted that none of the airports and seaports located in the regions were reasonably functional, while the few federal roads were not in good shape, neither were the two zones linked by any rail services.
He maintained that, “They have been environmentally degraded and deliberately neglected by the Federal Government in appointments and provisions of basic development infrastructures.”
Wike reasoned that even in contemporary Nigeria, the two regions share the same or similar challenges, including insecurity, poverty and under-development despite the best of efforts by the constituent state governments.
Since the people of the two geo-political zones have shared common heritage and affinity, Wike called for strategic economic plan and need to establish and link cities in the two zones with railways and superhighways; to provide viable and affordable flight services between our cities, and to ensure that cargoes are brought into the country and the regions through our seaports, jetties and ferry services as a veritable means of stimulating economic growth and social progress across our two regions.
“Also, we are all aware that economic growth and social progress are possible only in a peaceful and secure environment. And much as we try to tackle this menace in our respective states by providing the necessary logistic support to the security agencies, perceptions of insecurity are on the rise, doing significant damage to our investment climate thereby preventing reasonable inflow of direct foreign and local investment into the zones”, he said.
He maintained that the two regions must strive to overcome challenges through regional efforts by sharing resources, intelligence and denying sanctuaries to criminal elements in the areas.
According to him: “As we go into the business of this meeting, let us be confident in the rightness of our course and clear in our considerations that we have been and would continue to be worse off without the will to exploit our political and economic complementarities to drive our ways into political, economic and social prosperity.
“Above all, we must continue to demand for the devolution of powers and resources to the states as well as the institutionalization of state police, now that there is national consensus on these issues,” Wike maintained.
Similarly, Chairman of the South-South and South-East Governors Forum, Chief Udom Emmanuel has said that both zones plan to adopt a Public Private Partnership (PPP) model for infrastructural revamp of the area.
Emmanuel, who is the governor of Akwa Ibom State, shortly after the meeting, informed news men that PPP was one way to augment whatever the Federal Government was doing in both the South-South and South-East in terms of infrastructure.
He reiterated the position of the governors to the unity of the country, “Nigeria is a country we have passion for.”
Emmanuel also said the governors resolve to give the issue of security of lives and property top priority, and that, “we will collaborate with other regions on some of the issues of inter-cooperation.”
Earlier, the Akwa Ibom State governor had urged his counterparts from the two zones to form a common front for socio-economic development.
He described the meeting as a new beginning for the two geo-political zones for the good of her people.
The governor expressed delight that the governors have set aside impediments to chart a new direction, and charged the two zones to work together for prosperity.
He said: “Federal presence in the zone is minimal and only seen in the presence of policemen”.
Emmanuel sought for the development of an industrial framework that will enhance development.
He said the regions are better of united than divided, as he pleaded with Nigerians to continue to strive for the unity of the country.
Obasanjo, Abdulsalami, Sultan, Others Brainstorm On Insecurity
Rising insecurity and agitations for secession by different ethnic groups across Nigeria has attracted the attention of elder statesmen and other national leaders to a meeting in Abuja.
The meeting was organised by Interfaith Initiatives for Peace jointly led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, and Emeritus Cardinal John Onaiyekan, and the National Peace Committee chaired by Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd).
Reporters were barred from taking part in the closed-door meeting, expected to proffer solutions to the ongoing security challenges threatening the peace and unity of the country.
It was also an exploratory meeting on pressing issues of national unity, security, peace, integration, economic revitalisation and development, women and youth welfare and general progress.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo; former Head of State, General Abdulsalam Abubakar (rtd); Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar; Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi; Tor Tiv, Prof Ortese Iorzua James Ayatse, Emeritus Cardinal John Onaiyekan; President General (Ohanaeze Ndigbo), Prof George Obiozor; and Afenifere leader, Ayo Adebanjo; were all in attendance.
Others sighted at the meeting are President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba; CAN General Secretary, Joseph Daramola; JAMB Registrar, Prof Ishaq Oloyede; Etsu Nupe, Yahya Abubakar; former Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe, among several political and traditional rulers at the meeting.
Elder statesmen, Chief Edwin Clark, also attended the event at the Congress Hall of Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, but could not participate in the meeting because he could not climb the staircase to the meeting room.
Fighting Corruption Difficult In Democratic Setting, Buhari Laments
President Muhammadu Buhari says fighting corruption in democratic setting is a difficult task to accomplish.
The president disclosed this during an interview with Arise Television which was televised, yesterday.
According to him, the war against corruption has not been easy for him since he became a democratically elected president six years ago.
He, however, stressed that his administration had succeeded in easing out corrupt public officials without making noise about it.
Buhari recalled that much was achieved in the fight against corruption when he was military Head of State in the early 80s “when a lot of people were sent to prisons before I was also booted out”.
The president frowned at the way and manner local government system was being managed, saying the local government administration was almost non-existent in the country.
He cited situation where state governors continued to starve the local governments of funds saying “in a situation where N300million is allocated to local government and they are given N100million is not fair”.
On activities of bandits and kidnappers particularly in the North-West and North-Central zones, Buhari said he had given the police and Armed Forces the instructions to be ruthless with bandits and vandals terrorising innocent citizens across the country.
He stated that he had told the security agencies to treat bandits and other criminals in the “the language they understand.
“Problem in the north-west; you have people over there stealing each other’s cattle and burning each other’s villages.
“Like I said, we are going to treat them in the language they understand.
“We have given the police and the military the power to be ruthless. You watch it in a few weeks’ time there will be difference.
”Because we told them if we keep people away from their farm, we are going to starve. And the government can’t control the public.
“If you allow hunger, the government is going to be in trouble and we don’t want to be in trouble.
“We are already in enough trouble. So, we warn them sooner than later you’ll see the difference,’’ he said.
On farmers/herders clashes, the president said the problem had persisted because old cattle routes and grazing areas had been violated by development, adding that those who had taken over such traditional arrangements would be dispossessed.
On the fight against insurgency, Buhari dismissed the assertion that majority of Boko Haram members were foreigners.
According to him, the majority of the Boko Haram members are Nigerians, saying this was further corroborated by Borno State Governor, Prof Babagana Zulum.
The president stated that his administration had done a lot to fight the terrorists and insurgents but the problem in the “North-East is very difficult.”
Igboho Declares June 12 Day Of Protest, Warns Buhari
Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, has declared June 12 as day of protest for Yoruba nation agitators.
The self-acclaimed Yoruba activist said the agitators will hold ‘peaceful rallies’ across the South-West region on Saturday, June 12.
Igboho, who spoke through his spokesman, Olayomi Koiki, in a live video programme aired, last Wednesday night, called on South-West governors to cooperate with the peaceful protesters during the exercise.
He warned the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration not to attack the agitators.
He said, “Let us warn the Federal Government that if there is bloodshed this weekend, the international community is watching, if the military kills any Nigerian this weekend, it is going to be very hot.
“The Yoruba nation rally will go ahead in every part of Yoruba land and the rest of the country where it will hold.
“Red alarm will begin on Friday. People should stock up food Items from Friday night.
“We are not backing down this weekend; we are ready to take back what belongs to us.”
He also enjoined agitators to ‘fast’ on Friday.
This is coming after NANS under the leadership of its National President, Comrade Sunday Asefon, had declared June 12 as National Day of peaceful protest to call on the government to act decisively towards addressing insecurity.
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