By Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma revealed on Friday that over N75 billion is need to tackle over 360 erosion sites but it’s not something state can do alone.
He made the disclosure to State House Correspondents after he met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, adding that the state need support from federal, state and development partners to tackle the problem.
According to Uzodinma, out of the over over 360 erosion sites in Imo State as at the last count, a study has been carried out on 57 sites, consider very critical and immediate.
The State Governor, who said he was in the presidential Villa for “a normal courtesy call on the President and then to make some requests, prominent among the request I made today is that of erosion menace that has bedevilled the State to the extent that the only road that you go through to the Federal University of Technology and Federal College of Technology in Owerri, the State capital is almost cut into two.
“It is so critical that the schools are about to resume and if nothing is done urgently, they may not be able to have access to their various schools and the President in his wisdom has promised to immediately get in touch with the ecological office to remedy the situation.
“We have over 360 erosion sites in Imo State and as at the last count, we have done a study of 57 sites, which we consider very critical and immediate. Based on our assessment, a lot of money would be required to address the problem, over N75 billion and you will agree with me that the State government cannot handle that alone,” he said.
Uzodinma stressed that the State can only address the problem through constructive partnership with the federal government through the Ecological Fund office, and development partners as well as donor agencies.
Meanwhile, he has warned politicians particularly those in the southeast that they will go hungry if they choose to remain in the opposition.
He explained that that his Ebonyi counterpart , Dave Umahi, who recently left the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) after he accused the party of not zoning the 2023 presidential ticket to the southeast, did not tell him of any plans to vie for the ticket in the All Progressive Congress (APC).
While welcoming Umahi’s defection to the APC, Uzodinma said he used to be like an orphan because he was the only APC Governor in that zone but now he has a brother.
The Governor urged his kinsmen to embrace the party at the centre, so as to yield more dividends of democracy.
He said the recent inauguration of a modular refinery in the State will help boost the economy, adding that more of such refineries be introduced so as to address the problem of importation and shortage of petroleum products in the country.
He said the ruling party’s ambition is to get into its fold as many Nigerians as possible, hence the current drive for opposition politicians.
Speaking on the defection Umahi to the APC, he stated: “Everybody that is not in the APC now in the southeast is a target. It’s not only governors. It includes those who are not governors, the entire political class. The whole idea is making the ideology of the party known to the people, allaying their fears, and encouraging them to come.
“Once you believe in Nigeria and you have a pan-Nigeria attitude, of course, you will go for a national party. There is no gainsaying that if you are not with the national party, and you choose to be in opposition, of course, you will continue to fast until God answers your prayers.
“But we that are in the ruling, of course, what it will take us to solve certain problems may be different from what it will take somebody who is not very close to the source of authority to solve his own problems.”
According to him, the APC wants to have more politicians within its rank as a national party to encourage national unity and cohesion.
He added: “Well, I must count myself very lucky. After I emerged as APC governor, I used to be an orphan. You will agree with me I have a brother now, who is also in APC.
“My hope is that the region will see the reason and the wisdom in coming over to the ruling party because the ruling party is a national party.
“There is no way you can compare what your people will get in an opposition party to what they will get from the ruling party. APC is the ruling party which has access to the federal government. And because our preaching and gospel has always been how to unite Nigeria, how to encourage national unity, national integration, and national cohesion.
“It will be more cost effective to have my people, the people of southeast see reason and join APC, the national party. I’m very optimistic that gradually, we will get there. It’s a matter of convincing our people, which we are doing.”
Of if the party’s drive for opposition politicians is to achieve a one-party state, he said: I don’t think so , if you recall our history from 1999 till date you will agreee with me that at a time PDP had 28 states and they were still looking to remove the very few states of the other parties.
“Now how many states do we have as APC? And the whole thing about politics is like evangelism. Every serious political party must have an expansionist mentality to expand their membership.
“I think we will continue to encourage our people because the whole idea is that once the idealogy is right, the system is working, nobody wants to go to a war that he will lose. So, you join those who are winning.”
He further said: “I think if it’s possible for all of us to belong to the APC since the APC as I peak to you now has the best political manifesto, programmes and government in power, I see nothing wrong in all of us joining APC based on conviction not that you are coerced into joining APC.
“But if you voluntarily come into APC, our dream is to have every citizens of Nigeria become a member of our party because we have to be ambitious.”
He also spoke on the southeast presidency ticket that the PDP has not assured, which Umahi gave as his reason for leaving the party, saying the Ebonyi governor has not told him he is interested in the APC presidential ticket.
Uzodinma explained: “What we are doing in the south East as a party is carrying the message of the party. Before this time some of us beloved that we should have marketed the ideologies and policies better than the past leadership did.
“What we are trying to do is to explain to our people the need to see that this Nigerian project belongs to all of us and if you jump out of the train, don’t accuse anybody of pushing you out of the train.
“It is not about whether you want to be president now or not. You don’t get presidential ticket by the market square, it is the decision of the political party, you must be loyal to your political party.
“So, I know that my brother Umahi is politically strong in the southeast and joining APC would add to the value of the party in my region, but he never told me he is coming because he will be president.
“So, I want this people who want to cause confusion and create bad name for Umahi to run run away from that point and then encourage our people who have decided to align with the ruling party.”