June 15, 2021

Why there is trouble in South- East — Ngige

Dr. Chris Ngige, Labour and Employment Minister

By Victor Ahiuma-Young, Abuja

Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige has called for an end to the propaganda orchestrated by the elites in the South-East zone against the Federal Government.

The former Anambra State Governor said the propaganda provoked the troubles being noticed in that part of the country.

Ngige spoke in Abuja at an Emergency Stakeholders meeting of the Association of Eze Ndigbo, 19 Northern States and Abuja.

A statement from the minister’s Media Office said the meeting was summoned to discuss the wanton destruction of lives and properties in the South-East zone and the insecurity bedevilling Ndigbo as a people.

Also Read: Democracy Day: Protests sponsored, uncalled for — Idahosa

Addressing the participants, Ngige said Buhari has shown friendship to Ndigbo, maintaining that the South East has gotten a fair share of what is due to the zone, especially infrastructure wise.

He said, “There is no maltreatment there. We are in the Federal Executive Council (FEC), which is composed of a minister per state. But we have one extra ministerial slot. So, the South East is effectively represented to ensure justice is done to our people. We are there to talk when there is no justice.

“People can say that we are not honoured with appointments of Inspector General of Police, Chief of Army Staff and Secretary to the Federal Government (SGF). These are positions we have enjoyed before in the Nigerian Federation. We had two Inspectors General of Police (IGP), Ogbonnaya Onovo and Mike Okiro. We had an SGF, Senator Pius Anyim. We had four Senate Presidents. Twice we produced Deputy Senate President and Deputy Speaker, Ike Ekweremadu and Emeka Ihedioha. They were in charge of federal budgets for eight years from 2007 to 2015. That is the rule in the National Assembly.

“So, if you now talk about appointments, it becomes a matter of perception. I won’t blame them. Perception and reality are in the same line. A lot of them don’t understand how government works. A lot of them don’t understand that I a member of FEC can influence things that will come to my State, my zone or any other area and where we think things should be sited or done in Nigeria. For me, those people perceiving that are ignorant. I don’t want to use the word mischievous.

“But much, more importantly, propaganda against the government by the elites in the South-East should stop because it is that propaganda that provoked troubles that we are now noticing. People have been brainwashed and the separatists humped on that foundation to now shout from the rooftops that we will give you Biafra and when we give you Biafra, all these things will disappear.

“There is no country that does not have its own problems. We have economic problems here and that is why we have unemployment and of course, we have a youth bulge in our population. About 60 per cent of them are youths and a lot of them are unemployed. So, the government is devising ways to tackle that. It is a work in progress.”

The Minister recalled that the Buhari government had paid off all the gratuity and pensions of all the police pensioners in the South East that were neglected since after the war, which no government did before.

He said the Government assisted the 36 Governors with bailout funds to pay a shortfall in salaries in their respective states and went further to give them budget support to help them to execute budgetary projects and programmes and give life to their people.

According to him, the Governors in the South-East zone received the support even though at the time, the zone was a PDP zone.

“Infrastructure wise, if you go to the South East, from Enugu-Okigwe and Umuahia-Aba-Port Harcourt expressways, three companies, the Chinese Company, the Arab Contractors and RCC are there. Some of them have completed their work. A journey that normally takes us five hours from Enugu-Aba is now about one hour, 15 minutes.  When the Port Harcourt section is finished, a journey from Enugu to Port Harcourt will take two hours.

“Coming to Enugu-Awka- Onitsha, two sections have been finished. RCC is working at the stretch from Awka to Onitsha now. The stretch from Ninth Mile to Oji River has been completed. We are now at the third Section which is being done by Niger-Cat from Amansea to Oji River. The Old Road from Ninth Mile to Awka has also been done by Arab contractors. If you go there now, you will see it is fully completed with drains on both sides.”

He said the Owerri-Aba and Owerri-Umuahia roads are ongoing, just like the the international highway from Enugu to Abakiliki to Cameroun where the stretch from Enugu to Abakiliki is completed while the stretch from Abakiliki to Cameroun is ongoing.

“Enugu The airport used to be the worst airport in Nigeria. We had three Aviation Ministers, Fidelia Njeze, Stella Odua and Osita Chidoka and did nothing there. Buhari put N10 billion in Enugu Airport. He does not hate Ndigbo.

“Then, the Second Niger Bridge is the biggest of them all. President Buhari took it up from a Private Public Partnership (PPP) Project by which tolls were to be collected. By which foreign loan companies’ financiers were relieved of doing what they wanted to do to stay there forever and ever and it is now a legacy project out of the five that is being done in the whole country.

“The five legacy projects are Lagos-Ibadan highway, Mambilla project, East-West Road, Abuja-Kaduna-Kano and Second Niger Bridge and the Second Niger Bridge is gulping one of the biggest amounts of money; N386 billion and has undergone 55 per cent completion. Julius Berger said they will deliver in the middle of 2022 and we have no reason to doubt them.”

Ngige stated that all these projects were being executed with Sukuk funds, loans and extra-budgetary provisions, since budgetary provisions were not enough.

He explained that the current administration has not earned enough revenue owing to crash in the price of oil and production level since it came to power, adding that “we are now getting about 50 per cent of what the previous the government got in terms of internally generated revenue.”

Earlier, in their separate speeches, Eze Ndigbo, Niger State and President of Ndieze Igbo 19 Northern states and FCT Abuja, Eze (Dr) Pampas Nwahiwe  and Eze Ndigbo Kano, Boniface Ibekwe, condemned the violence by suspected agitators in the South East who were attacking police and military formations and killing our security personnel, warning that their actions were capable of endangering the lives of their brothers who are living in other parts of Nigeria.

Vanguard News Nigeria