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Friday, 13 October 2017

Marginalization, IPOB top Buhari’s parley with South East

From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

The issues of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), infrastructure decay and the development of the South East among others dominated the discussion between President Muhammadu Buhari and South East leaders this afternoon.

Those in attendance we're South East governors, federal lawmakers from the zone, ministers and the leadership of Ohaneze Ndi Igbo on Thursday.

Governors in attendance were those of Abia, Okezie Ikpeazu, Enugu, Ifeanyi Ugwuani, Ebonyi, Dave Umahi, the Imo deputy governor,  Eze Madumere and the deputy governor of Anambra, Nkem Okeke.

Lawmakers in attendance were Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu and Enyinnaya Abaribe.

The President 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.

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 single 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."

President Buhari had in his Independence Day, broadcast blamed the elders and leaders of the south east, for IPOB's agitation, insisting that they should have warned those daring to agitate for Biafra to perish the idea because of the consequences of the civil war he region suffered.

In a statement released by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said President  Buhari  assured stakeholders from the South East that the region will benefit more from roads and coastal rail projects, which are of


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