• Promises region rail connectivity
From Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Aloysius Attah, Geoffrey Anyanwu, Onitsha
President Muhammadu Buhari has disuted claims that the South East is marginalised.
The president said this yesterday, when he addressed the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe, son of late Owelle of Onitsha, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Ambassador Emeka Ayo Azikiwe, traditional and religious rulers, during a courtesy visit at the Obi’s palace, on the sidelines of his campaign visit to Anambra State.
In response to issues raised by the traditional rulers, about marginalisation of the South East, particularly, in the security sector, Buhari commended the courage of the leaders in speaking their minds.
He, however, explained that he has remained fair to all regions of the country since assumption of duty, as president, on May 29, 2015.
“In the South East, there are five states, in the North, I think there are 18 states. In the South East, out of the five states, I think five members of the Federal Executive Council are from this region; Trade and Investment, Foreign Affairs, Labour, Science and Technology; and seven of the northern states have only ministers of state,” the president said.
Buhari also said he has appointed most people into the country’s security architecture without knowing them personally, except their professional records.
“I think I tried to be fair, and you can ask these ministers. I’ve never asked them how they are running their parastatals and the boards. I appointed them and I trust them. I allow them to work.”
He said the same complaints from the South East have been coming from other parts of Nigeria, but, that does not reflect the truth.
“I don’t have to tell you what noise the other states are making, especially when compared to the votes I got in 2015. So, I think I try to be fair.
“The question of the police. Those of you who were in the military, even in the Biafra Army, know that the entry point is the same, and you go for basic training, until you go to your formations or institutions, whether it is army, navy, air force or the police.
“The most competent or senior person is the one who gets there.
“The present chief of army staff, the chief of air staff, the chief of naval staff, even the previous inspector general of police who just left, I didn’t know them, personally, before I appointed them. I followed records,” the president said.
In a related development, the president also promised to construct rail lines that would link the entire South East.
He disclosed that the rail line would start from Port Harcourt, through Nnewi to Awka, while another rail line will start from Port Harcourt through Abia, Enugu to Ebonyi states.
He said his administration is determined to complete the Second Niger Bridge, rehabilitate Enugu-Port Harcourt and Enugu-Onitsha Expressway, among other road projects in the South.