…Okorocha, Deputy Absent At Meeting
…Lobbies Buhari on 2nd Niger Bridge
Some serving governors from the South Eastern region, comprising Dave Umahi, Ebonyi, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Enugu, Okezie Ikpeazu, Abia and the Deputy Governor of Anambra state Nkem Okeke met with President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday, behind closed doors.
Although they claimed their visit to the presidency had no political undertone, Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha and his estranged Deputy, Eze Madumere were absent at the meeting.
Chairman of the South East Governors Forum, Dave Umahi who led the delegation said they tasked the federal government on the need to step up security structure of the country to protect lives and property.
His response was in reaction to the recent attack on the residence of the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu where some criminal elements broke into his private residence in Apo, a suburb of Abuja.
He disclosed that a strong petition had been written against the Inspector General of Police, Abubakar Idris, even though the President as the chief security officer of the entire country has to do more to secure lives and property of all citizens.
“Well it’s not a matter for the President, even though as the chief security officer of the nation, we reached out to him to ensure that all lives of citizens are secured but we had also made our position known to the Inspector General of Police in that respect and I think they are doing something about it,” he told State House correspondents shortly after the meeting.
Recall that condemnation had trailed the Nigerian police authorities when some suspected criminals broke into the private residence.
While investigations have started leading to the arrest of four police officers and civil defense officials in connection with the attacks. The authorities insist it was a case of burglary and not assassination attempt as alleged by Ekweremadu.
While narrating his ordeal, the Deputy Senate President confirmed that one of the attackers was caught, and criticized what he described as the poor attitude of relevant senior officials of the police to the attack.
“The annoying aspect of it or the one that is worrisome is that at that point I called the Inspector-General of police (IGP), his phone was off. I called some of his aides, their phones rang out and nobody replied, till now. I called DIG operations until I left my house, nobody showed up.
“I now had my people invite the DPO in charge of Apo police station. We didn’t see him till about 5:30, he sent his 2nd-in-command who came and he saw the dangerous weapons that they left behind, he left and sent that the DPO was coming. Until I left my house by 9 am, the DPO had not come,” Ekweremadu had told his Senate colleagues recently.
Meanwhile, the South East delegation seized the opportunity to lobby the presidency for the speedy completion of the second Niger Bridge.
According to the delegation, Buhari should at least commit 50 percent down payment, while reducing the time-frame for the project completion from 42 to 24 months.
Recall that out of the N206billion contract award only N7billion has been paid out as mobilization fees to the contractors.
They also lobbied for the establishment of an economic free trade zone in Eyimba in Abia state including the completion of the cargo session of Enugu international airport.
“We came to thank Mr. President on behalf of the southeast for the award of the second Niger bridge to JULIUS Berger at the sum of N206 billion. We understand that N7 billion has been paid as mobilization, so we came to ask Mr. President if there is the possibility of paying up to 50 percent of the sum and secure the other 50 percent as bond so that we can sleep with our two eyes closed and be assured that the job will not be abandoned.
“We also asked that the construction period is reduced from 42 months to 24 months. We made it clear to Julius Berger that it is achievable. We are also asking for economic free trade zone in Eyimba in Abia and he promised to come and commission it, the license has been given.
“We talked about the Enugu international airport, we asked him to deploy the cargo section of the airport, complete the building and extends the runway and also rebuild the runway because it is very bumpy and the tarmac light is not functioning.
“We also thank him for the roads and we reminded him that the slow pace of work was attributed to the rains, now that the rains are gone the contractors are complaining of no funding. So we requested that he should do something about the funding.
“Of course we talked about the geometric power plant in Aba to assist in resolving whatever are the issues so that power will be deployed to the industrial clusters in Aba and environs.
“We reminded him that the Enugu state government has done quite a lot on the issue of relocating major infrastructure that has been obstructing smooth operations of lives. We requested that he should take over the compensations of the affected lands.
“And of course the issue of gas distribution should be linked to the five eastern states to the industrial clusters, so as to boost economic activities.
“The railway, of course, we complained that the western corridor is going on and the eastern corridor has not been awarded. And the eastern corridor goes through Port Harcourt, Aba, Ebonyi, Enugu, Maiduguri. We requested that the contract should be awarded so that we can benefit from that project,” he stated.
Asked if the visit was a bargaining chip for 2019? Umahi said, “It has no political intentions because these are economic issues and they are not new”.
Also asked if the President reached out to them for support in 2019, he responded thus, “There was no political discussion”.