By Modestus Okechukwu Umenzekwe
Thank you Senator Orji Uzor Kalu! Thank you for reawakening interest in Igbo presidency with your stand that anybody, irrespective of zone, can contest for the presidential election in 2023. That got the sparks across the world and some started reacting either way for god of Ndigbo. You were apt when you said that, “Zoning does not exist in the constitution of All Progressives Congress, APC. As long as it is not a constitutional matter, the presidential bid is an open basket, which anybody can vie for.”
The leadership of South East for President 2023, SEFORP2023, said it is grossly disappointed with your position, according to its National Coordinator, Rev. Okechukwu Obioha. That wasn’t an issue because we knew what you did. We were docile as a people even when His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari has reassured that Ndigbo’s turn it is to have the presidency, nobody was behaving as if two years time is the presidential election.
Your statement made us realize it’s time for us to start putting our homes in other preparatory for the game in 2023. That your moves brought Global movement for 2023 Igbo presidency coordinated by Comrade Kenendy Iyere begin to mobilize Ndigbo in that respect. That as well brought Ohaneze Ndigbo to meet with Governors of the South-East, MASSOB and youth leaders in favour of Igbo presidency.
Once again, let me thank you for re-awakening us from slumber. I know you are qualified to be President of Nigeria but you didn’t say that initially. Now you are saying it indirectly as thousands of people even from the North are rooting for you. I am proud of that master stroke but we shall re-visit this issue later. Thank you for supporting President Buhari. Thank you for being Pro-APC always.
Let me restate that the way I perceive our dear President Muhammadu Buhari; it’s not likely he will go against such demand for Igbo presidency having fulfilled other promises with Onitsha Sea Port, 2nd Niger Bridge and Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu to mention but a few.
I reiterate that I see President as someone that believes in equity and fairness. I believe he will support Igbo to succeed him in 2023. I recall that in 2014, when the former Attorney-General of the Federation, late Chief Chike Offodile, was being buried, I heard Buhari clearly at the house of great Zik of Africa in Onitsha when he paid courtesy call to Late Chukwuma Azikiwe and he said, “My friend Chuma, if by the grace of God I become the president, I will make Ndigbo proud by completing the Zik’s mausoleum and build a second Niger Bridge and other infrastructural developments in Igbo land.
Let me say that President Buhari has fulfilled that promise using the workaholic Minister, Babatunde Fashola SAN to execute all those projects of which by 2022 at most, the 2nd Niger Bridge will be completed. So, with all these, I believe strongly, he will support an Igbo man to succeed him in 2023.
The other day, it was unbelievable but it happened. Onitsha sea port has become functional after over 40 years it was first commissioned. Another commissioning took place October 6, 2020 courtesy of the administration of President Mohammadu Buhari.
Babatunde Raji Fashola, Nigeria’s minister for power, works and housing has delivered visible and quality projects and I can attest that there is no state in Nigeria without the Federal Government attention, executing at least one road project with construction workers engaged on the sites. I am happy that difficult and abandoned projects like the Second Niger Bridge, Lagos Ibadan Expressway and the Bodo-Bonny Bridge have been brought back to life by Fashola.
The Federal Government is set to fix 44 roads with the Sukuk funds raised in the bond market. Already, the sovereign Sukuk Symbolic cheque of N162.55 billion, the amount appropriated for road in 2020 budget was presented to Fashola by the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed in Abuja.
The only meaning of this release is that the economy would soon be on the path to economic development, including development of rails , roads and power needed for Nigeria’s economic growth and ease of doing business.
Fashola is assuring that the public roads that will benefit from the fund would come from all 6 geopolitical areas, with the North-Central getting eight roads, eight roads for the Northeast, North-West seven roads, South-East five roads, South-South 10 roads, and South-West six roads.
Debt Management Office, (DMO) had announced that this would be Nigeria’s 3rd Sukuk bond, with the first being an N100 billion bond in 2017 and another N100 billion by 2018.
The office says the bonds, with the Green bonds, would be used for the development and rehabilitation of critical infrastructure in the country depending on budget allocations.
Fashola’s office particularly the works and housing arm has been instrumental to infrastructural development since the Buhari-led administration, hence across the six geopolitical zones, there are over 200 ongoing highway projects, all of which stretches to a total of 7,483.04 km with N2.4 trillion worth of contracts. Of these projects, some are funded by local and external loans as well as sukuk bonds.
There are flyovers and bridges, particularly the second Niger River bridge and the Loko-Oweto bridge linking Benue and Nasrawa States.
Termed the “Highway Project and Management Initiative,” Mr Fashola said in June that the federal government planned to ‘concession’ 10 highways to raise a total of N163.32 billion and over 23,000 jobs at the initial phase.
The ministry has impacted on 514 highways projects that covered, 826.84 producing about 144,395 jobs (49,080 direct, and 95,350 indirect jobs). FERMA also maintained 2075.24 km stretch of road, involving 406 contractors and 150 people.
Fashola said to bridge the housing deficit in the country, the ministry rolled out a national cooperative housing scheme which gives 80 per cent developmental loans to cooperative groups. The loans funded by the Federal Mortgage Bank, the initiative has under its radar about 5,301 mortgages worth N38 billion.
Under President Buhari, several roads such as the following are undergoing rapid construction. They are:
-Enugu -Portharcourt Dual Carriage way.
-Rehabilitation of Okija bridge Junction leading to Umuahia-
Umuerogha-Umuelema Nbubo Road
-The second Niger Bridge construction which presently stands at 44.6% completion, despite being on the drawing board for several years by previous governments of Obasanjo, late Yaradua and Jonathan.
For the minister of labour and employment, Senator Chris Nwabueze Ngige had upon assumption of office on August 21, 2019 vowed to resolve the crisis surrounding the N30,000 national minimum wage, the ongoing university workers strike and other issues affecting the industrial sector.
The minister said he will follow due process to put ‘smiles’ on the faces of workers by putting energy in all assignments assigned to his ministry.
Other promises made by the minister included creation of job opportunities to avoid job losses, revival of Nigeria’s Labour Advisory Council and implementation of 1990 Factories Act which entails occupational safety and health components of labour activities.
Those that have commenced payment of the minimum wage include Borno, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Lagos, Ondo, Sokoto, Yobe and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The states that are yet to start include Benue, Cross River, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Imo, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Plateau, Rivers, Taraba and Zamfara.
The suspension of the planned strike action and protests sequel to electricity tariff hike and deregulation of the downstream sector of by the organized Labour had the imprimatur of Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige,
With Chairman of the All Progressives Congress’s Caretaker Committee, Mai Mala Buni, who is also the Governor of Yobe state, APC will take over Anambra state come 2021. The signs are glaring. And with his reconciliation moves which yielded good results in Ondo State even Edo state, president Buhari is at home with his style.
Other members of the committee are Osun state Governor, Isiaka Oyetola, Niger state Governor, Abubakar Bello, Sen. Ken Nnamani, Sen. Abubakar Yusuf, Hon. Akinyemi Olaide, Mrs. Stella Oketete, Dr. James Lulu, Chief David Lyon, Sen. Abba Ali, Prof. Tahir Mamman, Barr. Ismail Ahmed as members and Sen. John Udoedeghe as the Secretary; these are people with impeccable history. APC is set for Anambra elections and would be definitely win. Their actions have been proactive and responsive as promised.
I dare to concur that truly, President Buhari is an institution and a phenomenon yet to be understood by Nigerians!
Buhari has charged public servants to apply themselves with integrity to stabilize the system and solicited the cooperation of the Legislative arm to maintain their brief of making laws and carrying out oversight functions.
Listen to him: ‘’I believe that it is when the three arms and the three levels of government work together that government will be enabled to serve the country’’. That’s the spirit of a true democrat or do you think otherwise?
He believes that together as a nation, as a people, the three arms and three tiers of government working together, we can attack corruption and realize the vast potentials of our country.
He is angry with the greed of a callous few in political office and civil service hence he was advocating for a corruption-free public sector to achieve the transformations his government is championing. He equally advocated for a judicial system that dispenses justice without undue delay and technicality.
Speaking at a summit by ICPC, Buhari said: ‘’We need laws and legal system to be reformed to deliver justice to every citizen without regard to status and finally we need ethical re-orientation of the people to achieve this goal. When we work together against corruption we can defeat it’’.
As the ENDSSARs protest continues in one way or the other, Buhari had warned against impunity among police officers, yet some hold contrary opinion of our President. Let’s respect our leader and President for we have no other nation to call ours if we ignite it today. Like the President, his men are doing well.
Modestus Okechukwu Umenzekwe is a Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress from Anambra state but resident in Lagos. He can be reached on [email protected]