By Modestus Okechukwu Umenzekwe
Before now, it was Senator Orji Uzor Kalu who showed interest in Igbo Presidency! I thanked him for reawakening the interest in Igbo Presidency with his 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 good 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), led by National Coordinator, Rev. Okechukwu Obioha, said it is grossly disappointed with Dr Kalu’s position. That wasn’t an issue because we knew what you did. We were docile as a people even when President Muhammadu Buhari, has reassured that Ndigbo’s turn it is to have the presidency. Nobody was behaving as if the presidential election is in two years’ time.
Your statement made us realize it’s time for us to start putting our homes in preparatory state for the game in 2023. That moves brought global movement for 2023 Igbo presidency, coordinated by Comrade Kenendy Iyere. The body began to mobilize Ndigbo in that respect. That as well brought Ohaneze Ndigbo to meet with Governors of the South-East, notable stakeholders and youth leaders in favour of Igbo presidency.
That got Governor of Ebonyi state , Engr Dave Umahi scheming to contest for Presidency and in that spirit, he dumped PDP and joined the APC which he said is the only party that has assured Ndigbo that presidency is zoned to the South-East.
Once again, let me thank Kalu 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 masterstroke 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 presidency to be ceded to the Igbo , 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 2004, 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 seaport 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 Works and Housing has delivered visible and quality projects and I can attest that there is no State in Nigeria without the Federal Government’s 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 roads 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 healthy 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 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 kilometres 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 Nasarawa 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 is set 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 –Port Harcourt Dual Carriage way.
-Rehabilitation of Okija bridge Junction leading to Umuahia-
-Construction of 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 Yar’Adua and Jonathan.
For the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Nwabueze Ngige, upon assumption of office for his second term on August 21, 2019, he 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 bringing to bear healthy energy in all assignments assigned to his ministry . Other promises made by the Minister include 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 planned strike and protests sequel to electricity tariff hike and deregulation of the downstream sector of by the organized Labour had the imprimatur of Dr Ngige,
Already, there are signs that Senator Ngige will end the ASUU prolonged strike on a good note by this week .
On his part, the Minister for Transport, Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi who was a member of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), from 1 January 2016 to 31 December 2018 has been pragmatic and has achieved what no occupant of the office in the ministry’s life span was able to achieve .
Modern railway lines restoration is one of the major feats of Buhari led administration. Thisday honoured him with Minister of the Decade. Amaechi is committed to fixing the Lagos-Ibadan corridor of the Lagos-Kano rail project which is costing billions of Dollars. The Itakpe-Warri rail line is already on.
His drive and commitment to give Nigerians a better travelling experience is not in contest as he is focused in driving Buhari’s administration’s efforts to revive the railway system in the country.
There is Lagos-Kano standard rail line that will link Nigeria’s eastern and northern corridors. The water transportation system is also receiving attention. The Lagos to Kano railway line has about 30 million tonnes of cargo per year whereas Port Harcourt to Maiduguri has about 11 million tonnes per year, hence Amaechi is targeting its completion first, before embarking on Lagos to Calabar.
The Itakpe-Lokoja-Warri rail was awarded in 1987, is being championed to completion by Buhari government. The Kaduna-Abuja rail is part of the Lagos-Kano. The Minister has stated that the Federal Government needs a total funding of $656 million to complete work on the Lagos-Ibadan railway project. Let me not talk about other of his achievements for this rail project is good enough.
Another Buhari man is Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, first civilian governor of Abia state and Minister of Science and Technology, who has passion and a rigorous drive for home grown technological and scientific solutions.
He has 17 parastatals under his ministry and he has been able to set Nigeria’s economy on an innovation footing . With what he has done so far, Nigeria is on the path of attaining technological advancement akin to China in couple of years if the trajectory is followed.”
According to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, over 900, 000 jobs have been created through the implementation of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) policies of the Federal Government. As well, over N1 Trillion has been saved through the reduction in imports of raw materials. Young Nigerian scientists went into contest during the 2020 edition of the National Science and Technology competition for secondary schools in Nigeria with scholarships to doctorate degree awarded to three young scientists who came tops in the competition tagged “774 Young Nigerian Scientists Presidential Award (774 YONSPA)”. Top winners at the National Science and Technology competition got cash awards of N1 Million, N750,000 and N500,000 respectively.
The first made in Nigeria ventilators and disinfectant safety sprayers by NASENI, an agency under the ministry, to combat the coronavirus is a plus to his ministry under Buhari. As well, the MoU with the United Kingdom Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) for update of the Nigeria Energy Calculator 2050 (NECAL2050) and the China-Arab States Technology Centre (DASTIC) to boost Science, Technology and Innovation in Nigeria are feats too.
With Chairman of the All Progressives Congress’s Caretaker Committee, Mai Mala Buni, who is also the Governor of Yobe state, APC look good enough to win Anambra State come 2021. The signs are glaring. And with his reconciliation moves which yielded good results in Ondo and to a large extent Edo States. 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 definitely win. Their actions have been proactive and responsive as promised.
I make bold to say that President Buhari is an institution and a phenomenon that has transformed Nigeria . 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’’.
With the ENDSSARs protests over, President Buhari has warned against impunity among police officers. Yet, some hold contrary opinion. Let’s respect our leader and President for we have no other nation to call our own, if we ignite it today. Like the President, his men are doing well.
• Modestus Okechukwu Umenzekwe, an APC Chieftain from Anambra State, is resident in Lagos.