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South East leaders meet Buhari, demand action on 2nd Niger Bridge, others


Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State (left); his Ebonyi counterpart, Dave Umahi; Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu; Minister for Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, and South East APC chieftain, Chief Tony Chukwu, after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja… yesterday. PHOTO: PHILIP OJISUA

South east leaders yesterday held a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa where they sought speedy work on the second Niger Bridge and other critical infrastructure in the region.

The leaders included Deputy Senate President Ike Ikweremadu, Governors Dave Umahi of Ebonyi, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu, Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia and the deputy governor of Anambra State, Dr. Nkem Okeke.

Speaking to State House correspondents after the meeting, Umahi said that the group also requested the president to approve 50 per cent of the contract sum for the second Niger Bridge and another 50 per cent in bond as an assurance that the project would not be abandoned.
He explained that the south east leaders made a case for the reduction of the completion period of the project from 48 months to 24 months.

According to him, President Buhari was informed that the 24 months period was achievable with the discussions.The governor said that they had come specifically to thank the president for the award of the contract for the major component of the bridge at the cost of N206 billion.

“The project is the dream of our people and it has become a dream come true. Our people said that we must come and thank you. Your Excellency, Mr. President, we are grateful.While enumerating some challenges confronting the governors to the president, umahi said: “Out of mutual respect, we have come to you as a caring leader to listen to us.”

Other requests made by the leaders include commissioning of the economic free trade zone in Abia, the Enugu international airport, which they asked for the deployment of the cargo section, completion of the building and extension of the runway.The leaders also discussed the geometric power plant in Aba to assist in resolving the issues, so that power will be deployed to the industrial clusters in Aba and environs.

Governor Umahi said that the president assured them that he was going to look into the issues, including the railway projects.“We were given a cheering news that not only that the railway will be awarded, that it will touch all states’ capitals in south east as it moves from south east to Maiduguri.

“There will also be a port that will be added to it and it will cost about $12 billion. He said they are yet to bring it to Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, so they intend to do so,” he said.

Asked whether issues on the 2019 general election came up during their discussion, the governor said it did not have any political undertone.In his remarks, President Buhari assured that all ongoing federal projects in the south east would be funded, saying that the seven-month delay in passing this year’s budget would not be an excuse.

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