Worried by spate of attacks leveled against the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, by a socio-political group, World Igbo Peoples Assembly (WIPAS), over the narrow gauge line from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri, angry youths under the aegis of the Concerned Youths of Eastern Nigeria (CYEN), have risen to condemn such action as a big distraction that could stall the project.
WIPAS had in a press statement signed by its Board of Trustees (BoT) Chairman, Chucks Ibegbu, at the weekend, queried why “the rail line from the West to the North should be standard gauge and that from the East should be narrow gauge”, and urged that such project should be rejected.
“The Federal Government is building a standard rail gauge rail line from Daura to Maradi in Niger Republic and Rotimi Amaechi allowed this insult on his people.” Ibegbu stressed.
But CYEN described the attitude of the Igbo group as “politically-motivated with the major intent of blackmailing the Minister of Transportation and dragging his hard-earned reputation to the mud”.
A statement by leaders of the group including the National Coordinator, Chief Joel Ukaegbu; the National Secretary, Prince Uche Nwachukwu and the National Publicity Secretary, Chief Okata Jerry Okata, and made available to Newsmen in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom state capital, read in parts;
“The Honorable Minister has taken time to explain that the two gauge lines whether narrow or standard have the same features for efficiency depending on some key technical factors.
“Therefore, it is very unthinkable for those who are supposed to be in the know to start having issues with a true Igbo son who knows what is good for his people.
“For a very long time, we have not been privy to federal projects in the East where erosion have eaten up virtually all our major roads and rendering transportation of our goods and services to other parts of the country completely dysfunctional.
“Our major source of income down South here is business all round and if our son has been able to ensure this axis is accommodated in the national scheme of things, we should be grateful to God, President Buhari and the Minister instead of vilifying him because of politics.
“We sincerely think those behind this cocktail of lies should apologize to the Minister because since his adventure to the central politics of Nigeria, every geo-political zones including the East have had a fair share of distribution of infrastructure in roads and rail projects.”
Urging the Igbo leaders to caution those behind the smear campaign, CYEN noted that, “if allowed to continue, the zone could again be denied their due percentage from the national cake”.