The Obasanjo connection
By Doris Obinna
Contrary to insinuations that President Muhammadu Buhari was absent at the South East Economic and Security Summit, which held in Enugu yesterday, owing to the threats by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), he did not attend because of advice by Igbo leaders, Daily Sun can reveal.
The South East Summit, convened by former Minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji, had in attendance South East leaders and other stakeholders.
Daily Sun gathered that President Buhari wanted to personally attend the summit, but changed his mind when top Igbo leaders expressed reservations that his coming to the zone was at the instance of former president Olusegun Obasanjo.
Competent sources revealed that a top Anglican bishop from Abia State, working with the convener of the summit, had contacted Obasanjo and persuaded him to lend his words for President Buhari to attend the summit.
Miffed by the fact that Obasanjo was at the centre of invitation to President Buhari to attend a prime programme in South East, Igbo leaders were said to have protested to the Presidency, advising that Buhari should not visit the South East now.
Also, it was gathered that Igbo leaders in the All Progressives Congress (APC) advised President Buhari to rather schedule a visit to South East when the rehabilitation of federal roads in the zone is at its peak and also when he would flag off the continuation of the work at the second Niger Bridge.
In this regards, Presidency source said that President Buhari would visit the South East, on the invitation of the APC leaders from the zone in April or May 2017. By then, it was gathered, major work would have been done on federal expressways, which APC leaders reckoned would engender Buhari more to Igbo than coming to a summit, where Obasanjo played a major role.
Daily Sun also gathered that South East leaders reasoned that it will be insensitive for President Buhari to visit South East during the Christmas season, when Igbo are travelling to the villages.
President Buhari was said to have listened to voice of reason and heeded the advice not to attend the economic summit.
Presidency source told Daily Sun that following the advice, President Buhari wants to ensure that infrastructure rehabilitation is made top priority in the South East, especially since some Igbo leaders say they would join APC if perceived marginalisation is addressed.
Former Governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, who joined APC recently, had stated that he did so over the fulfulment of President Buhari’s promise to him that South East roads would receive attention.
Kalu had stated that since rehabilitation work has started on the federal roads in South East, he was persuaded that President Buhari would give the South East its fair share in development.
At the South East Economic and Security Summit, Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, with other governors and major stakeholders in the zone restated the call for the Federal Government to complete the second Niger Bridge.
In his welcome address, Ugwuanyi had described the summit as a veritable platform to discuss the peace and economic growth of the South East geopolitical zone and the country in general.
He stated that security and economic development play vital roles in the upkeep of humanity, while explaining that the summit would afford the people ample opportunity to discuss the two vital elements that could make the zone move forward.
He called on the Federal Government to rehabilitate federal infrastructure in Enugu State and other parts of the South East.