…lament infrastructural deficit in southern states

Ahead of the 2019 general elections, governors of the South-East and South- South geopolitical zones have commenced the process of closing ranks and coming together as a united political force.

The governors, under the aegis of South-East/ South-South Governors’ Forum, yesterday resolved that they will vote as a bloc in the 2019 elections and take a common position on the constitution amendment.

The governors hinged their resolve on the need to protect and bring benefits to the political future and interest of the people of the two regions.

The governors took the position after an all-night Sunday meeting in Owerri, the Imo State capital. Of the 11 states in the two zones, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) controls nine states while the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) control one state apiece.

According to a communiqué signed by Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State, who is the chairman of the forum, the governors discussed issues bordering on the political direction of the regions with emphasis on ensuring beneficial political future for the people of the regions.

“The Forum discussed issues bordering on the prevalent political atmosphere in the country and resolved that the two regions will go as a bloc in the one direction that will protect and be beneficial to the political future and interest of the people of the region,” Emmanuel said. The governors, who had unanimously lamented over the fact that the journey to Owerri by road was anything but delightful, frowned at the infrastructural deficit evident in the regions.

They decried the ‘unjustified lack of significant federal presence in the South-East and South- South regions. The forum, which came short of declaring an infrastructural emergency in the two regions, called on the Federal Government to take another  look at the infrastructural state of the regions and urgently do the needful.

“The Forum is worried by the dearth of infrastructure and unjustified lack of significant federal presence in the South-East and South- South regions and called for more attention to be paid to the infrastructural and other needs of the regions by the Federal Government,” the communiqué stated.

On the proposed amendment of the 1999 Constitution, the governors, after extensive deliberations, resolved to take only such position that will be in the overall interest of the people of the two regions.

While commending some leaders for defusing the tension between the North and the South-East occasioned by the ‘quit notice’ issued by some misguided youths in the North to Igbo residents in the northern states, the governors expressed the hope that it will be the last time any person or group of persons will make any statement or take actions that suggest that any part of the country is a no-go area to other Nigerians.

The governors were unanimous that such actions should not be condoned anymore in Nigeria.

The Forum, however, re-echoed their faith in one indivisible and indissoluble Nigeria. Earlier in his welcome address, the host, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, noted that what unites governors of the two regions far outweighs the politics that divides them. He said: “This is the best time for us to think outside the box.

This is the time for us to also encourage our youths and give them hope.

We must consolidate on the unity of the states involved and that of the nation at large. And if you ask me, I would request that the Constitution be amended to create a provision that would make governors go to states other than theirs to serve for three months.

By so doing, we would further be strengthening our unity.” The meeting, which was chaired by Emmanuel, had in attendance eight governors and a deputy governor.

Other governors were Governors Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia) and Ben Ayade (Cross River). The Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Nkem Okeke represented the Governor. The forum adjourned to re-convene in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State on Sunday, November 26.

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