Kalu intensifies advocacy for peace in S’East

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The Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Chief Benjamin Kalu, on Sunday, intensified his advocacy for peace in the South-East zone, with the launch of “Food for Peace Programme”.

Speaking at the launch during a meeting with APC stakeholders from the 17 Local Government Areas of Abia in his Bende country home, Kalu described the programme as an integral part of the recently unveiled Peace in the South-East Project (PISE-P).

The News Agency of Nigeria of Nigeria (NAN) reports that PISE-P, which advocates a non-kinetic approach to peace in the region, was unveiled on Dec. 29, 2023 by President Bola Tinubu.

Tinubu was represented by Vice President Kashim Shettima at the well-attended ceremony held at the headquarters of Bende Local Government Area.

Kalu said that the programme would also be launched at later dates in the other four South-East states of Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo.

He said that the programme was meant to help provide food for the people of the region, whose economy and means of livelihood were heavily impacted by insecurity, heightened by the sit-at-home order every Monday.

He said that the initiative had received resounding support from eminent Nigerians, including industrialists, business moguls and corporate organisations, who had made substantial financial and material donations toward its success.

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According to him, many organisations and donor agencies that believe in the South-East have shown interest to assist in rebuilding the region from the economic ruins occasioned by insecurity.

The deputy speaker also said that subsequent phases of the intervention for the return of enduring peace in the region would be on agriculture, education and health, amongst others.

“The launch will move round the entire states in the region showing love to the people and keeping their hope alive, in line with the Renewed Hope Initiative of the President.

“You should take the message of peace to the churches, villages and communities and also promote peace and unity within the party at the ward, local government and state levels.

He charged the stakeholders to embark on membership drive and also reach out to estranged members with a view to reconciling them back to the party.

He challenged them to strengthen the party at the various levels and assured them of his readiness to provide the necessary assistance to make APC the dominant party in Abia and South-East in general.

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He thanked the stakeholders for obliging him the APC platform to run for the election, adding that he also worked hard to withstand “the Labour Party’s tsunami” that characteeised the general elections in Abia.

He recalled how gunmen, allegedly sponsored by his rival, attacked and riddled his campaign office and that of Tinubu with bullets during the campaign in an attempt to stop him.

He thanked God that his aid who was present at the time of the attack escaped unhurt.

The deputy speaker also announced the passage of the South-East Development Commission Bill in the House of Representatives.

He said that he personally undertook the drafting of the bill and lobbied his colleagues to buy-in into it.

He said that the bill had the potential of addressing the question of the alleged marginalisation of the region, when it becomes an Act.

Kalu said: “The provisions of the bill make it unapologetically clear that the resources of the Federal Government will be utilised to reconstruct the South-East.

“After the civil war in 1970, we have not experienced the reconstruction of the region from the ruins of the country’s 30-month-old civil war.

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“Moreover, it will help to create jobs for our teeming unemployed youths and also address the underdevelopment and obvious deficit in physical infrastructure in the region.”

Speakers at the meeting, including Sen. Chris Adighije, who presided, former Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika (rtd.), Chief Mark Wabara, former Minister of Labour, Chief Emeka Wogu, and spokespersons for Abia North, South and Central Senatorial Districts, lauded Kalu for his leadership quality and advocacy for a non-kinetic approach for peace in the region.

They also commended the president for supporting his emergence as the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, in spite of APC’s poor showing in the general elections in the region.

Other chieftains of the party in attendance were former House of Representatives members, Chief Stanley Ohajuruka and Chief Sam Onuigbo, the Abia representative in the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Chief Eruba Dimgba, amongst others.

Major highlights of the meeting were the reception of scores of new members, who defected from the Peoples Democratic Party and Young Progressives Party to APC and distribution of food items, including rice, noodles and spaghetti, and economic empowerment materials to his constituents.

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