Magnus Eze, Enugu, Fred Itua, Abuja, and Tony Osauzo, Benin
The South-East is practically livid over its exclusion from infrastructural development captured in the $22.7 billion loan that the Senate recently approved for the Federal Government.
Meanwhile, more facts have emerged on how some sections of the country were not captured in the borrowing plan.
A document made available to journalists showed how the Federal Government allegedly excluded states in the South-East and Edo State from from the loan.
The document also revealed that, despite the omission, the Senate, with at least 15 senators from the South-East, did not not protest the decision to sideline some sections of the country from benefiting from the $22.7 billion loan.
Last week, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, resisted attempts by senators to debate on details of the loan as he cleared the way for the approval of the document amid protests and uproar.
A breakdown of projects to be funded from the loan indicated that, in the South-West, about $200 million would be invested in the power transmission project for Lagos and Ogun; South-South, East-West Road would gulp $800m and an additional $3.47bn would be spent on the rail system modernisation and coastal railway project for Calabar-Port Harcourt-Onne deep seaport segment.
In the North-East, the projects include the multi-sectoral crises recovery programme that will take $200m, the northeast Nigeria integrated social protection, basic health, education, nutrition services and livelihood restoration project, where $100m would be invested, and the Lake Chad Basin Commission, with an investment of $13m.
In the North-West, the Kano-Lagos railway modernisation project, and Kano-Ibadan double track would take $5.53bn; vocational training in the power sector, $50m; FCT, Lagos, Ogun. Kano, Plateau, Niger, Enugu, Kaduna and Cross River economic transformation programme for results, $35m; National Information and Communication Technology Infrastructural Backbone Project (NICTIB) phase II, $328.1m; Lagos, Abuja, Ibadan, Akure, Maiduguri, Lokoja, Kaduna, Akwanga, Bauchi, Kano, Katsina. Health system project, $110m, Katsina; rural water supply and sanitation ($150m, North-East, and Plateau); Development of the mining industry ($150m, nationwide).
North-Central – Staple crops processing zone support project ($100m, Kogi); Greater Abuja water supply project ($381m; FCT); Abuja mass rail transit project, phase 2 ($1.25bn; FCT); Mambila hydro-electric power project ($4.8bn; Taraba); Integrated programme for development and adaption to climate change in the Niger Basin ($6m; Nigeria and Niger Republic).
The Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF), former president of Aka Ikenga, Chief Goddy Uwazurike, and Igbo Bu Igbo (IBI) have described the exclusion of the South-East as continuation of the wicked marginalisation of Ndigbo in Nigeria.
Chairman of the media and publicity bureau of the ADF, Chief Abia Onyike, said it was not an omission as such but, rather, a deliberate attempt by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to manifest its avowed anti-Igbo hysteria.
“It shows the inbuilt injustices inherent in Nigeria’s monolithic federation. It is a pointer to the fact that Ndigbo have been rejected and consigned to irrelevance in Nigerian affairs. It is extremely irritating and provocative. The National Assembly members from the South-East should take up this matter with the Presidency. Ndigbo should protest this maltreatment. Enough is enough. In fact, National Assembly members and the South-East governors should join hands to tackle the challenge,” Onyike said.
Candidate of the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN) for Ebonyi South Senatorial District in the last general election, Eze Igwe, accused National Assembly members from the South-East of pursuing their selfish interests, instead of speaking for their people.
“This is a loan that will be repaid by the entire country, including the Igbo. The question of Igbo marginalisation in Nigeria is no longer in doubt. And it is high time we decided as a people if we want to remain part of this union. Secession or self-determination is nobody’s favourite topic but one that has become necessary.”
Director, public affairs, Igbo Leadership Development Foundation and chancellor of Igbo Bu Igbo, Dr. Law Mefor, said the exclusion of the South-East was as embarrassing as it was sobering.
“This is not the first time the South-East is being excluded from such loans by this government; the loan taken earlier for railways infrastructure also excluded the South-East. That was also approved by the Senate. I then ask: where are senators from the South-East sitting in plenaries where these loans excluding the South-East zone are approved? Why are they sitting there validating the mortgage of the South-East and the exclusion of their people and the future of our people?”
A youth leader in Enugu State, Sunday Ude, also blamed representatives of the South-East for the continued marginalisation of the zone: “All we hear is a lone Abaribe voice that hardly gets any chorus from his South-East colleagues. We may be suffering marginalisation as a zone but our leaders also give the nod that facilitates it. It’s really disgusting.”