Buhari met southeast leaders: ‘Southeast not marginalised’ – Buhari; Buhari met southeast leaders: Ohanaeze Ndigbo articulated southeast demands; Buhari met southeast leaders: Marginalization & IPOB top Buhari’s meeting with southeast leaders . . .
President Muhammadu Buhari met South East governors, some Igbo ministers, two Igbo senate leaders, the leadership of Ohaneze Ndi Igbo and some other southeast stakeholders at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Friday afternoon. Find below, a full dossier report of the meeting where the president granted audience to these men from Igboland – and their demands from the Nigerian Chief Executive.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday assured leaders from the South-East that the region is not being marginalised. The southeast leaders who converged on the Presidential Villa in Abuja expressed their grievances to the President.
One of the salient issues bordered on under-representation of the Igbos in the Buhari administration, an allegation which the President said was unfounded. In response to allegations of under-representation of Igbos in his government, the president through a statement by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, on Friday. said, inter alia:
“I gave 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.
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.
I want to assure you that I came into government with a clear conscience and I will also leave with a clear conscience . . . “
The President of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief John Wnodo, articulated the demands of the southeast zone to President Muhammadu Buhari at the meeting. Chief Nwodo highlighted the issue of state creation, restructuring, federal projects in the South East namely Enugu-Onitsha road, Enugu-Port Harcourt road and Aba-Ikot-Ekpene road, among others.
Nwodo also demanded urgent presidential interventions on the Enugu Airport, reticulation of the gas-pipelines in the Southeast and the standard gauge plan for railway construction.
Commending the President’s remarkable achievements on security and the fight against corruption, Nwodo declared: “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.”
Also speaking, the Chairman of the Southeast Governors Forum and the Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, expressed satisfaction on the outcome of their discussions with the President on critical issues and topics 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, referring to budget support facility and stabilization fund released to states and local governments since the inception of the administration.”
The issues of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), infrastructure decay and the development of the Southeast dominated the meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and Southeast leaders on Friday afternoon.
The President-General of Ohaneze Ndi Igbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, told State House Correspondents that the interaction was frank and robust, expressing confidence that Buhari in all sincerity will address all issues with time.
Chief Nwodo who was flanked on both sides by the delegation he led to the meeting said:
“We had a frank and robust exchange. We discussed problems of the South East and as president he is the final repository of an appeal for the resolutions of those problems. We went into great details about each of those problems and I have confidence that he will give them the attention they deserve.
We dealt with problems of development in the South East, basic capital projects which have for a very long time been neglected not just from this government but for a very long time, major arteries of federal highways in the South East have been in complete state of collapse. Enugu-Onitsha, Enugu-Port Harcourt, Aba-Ikot Ekpene roads are virtually impassable.
We talked about the inland waterways and the dredging of the River Niger. We talked about the reticulation of gas pipelines on the south east. We export gas from the south east to the other parts of the country but there is no reticulation of the pipeline and industrial clusters in the south east.
We talked about the only international airport we have in the south east which has very bad infrastructure in terms of the buildings that have been ravaged. We got assurance from the president that he will deal with each of those problems.”
Asked if the issue of marginalization was discussed, Nwodo said, “That was the opening line and that was why we singled out these things. Like I have said these problems have been there overtime and we have had several presidents, it didn’t just happen in the last two years. But we expressed the desire that he should be able to address them.”
On if the president’s promises can be trusted, the Ohaneze Ndi Igbo said, “There is no reason for me to doubt them because this is the first time I have had this interaction with him. I have the feeling that he spoke to us very frankly.”
Asked if the issue of IPOB formed part of the discussion, he said, “We came here for the issues of developments in our place. We talked about IPOB as a symptomatic consequence of the continuous marginalization of the south east over a long period of time. Understandably, our children are restive and we want to make sure that the federal government is responsive to the issues that have cumulated in the quintessence of these agitations.”
On devolution of powers, Nwodo said, “We did talk about the issue of devolution of powers, the constitution, the paucity of the states and local governments in our place and the president has asked that he be given time to look at this more holistically.”