President Muhammadu Buhari, on Friday, assured stakeholders from the South East that the zone stands to benefit more from roads and coastal rail projects, which are of critical importance to the economy.
He said this while speaking with South-East leaders led by the Deputy Senate President, Mr. Ike Ekweremadu. President Buhari said the second Niger Bridge, the East-West Road, and the Coastal Rail Project are enjoying premium attention from his administration.
The president stated that counterpart funding from the Chinese government will substantially fund the projects. When completed, the projects will boost the economy of the 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,” he said.
Reacting to allegations of representation of Igbos in his government, President Buhari said:”I gave the South-East 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,” he explained.
President Buhari also promised the leaders, comprising governors and ministers from the region, President of Ohaneze, Chief Nnia Nwodo; and National Assembly members that he will visit states in the zone soon. He added that he came to government with a clear conscience and will also leave with a clear conscience.
President of Ohaneze, Chief Nwodo, while articulating the demands of the zone, highlighted the issue of state creation, restructuring and federal projects in the South East. He identified the Enugu-Onitsha Road, Enugu-Port Harcourt Road, and Aba-Ikot-Ekpene Road among others.
Chief 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.
Chief Nwodo commended the president’s remarkable achievements on security and the fight against corruption, said his group is ready to work the administration.
“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,” he said.
Also speaking, Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State, who expressed satisfaction on the outcome of their discussions with the president on critical issues 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, alluding to the budget support facility and stabilization fund released to states and local governments since the inception of the administration.