An Address To His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, President And Commander-In-Chief Of The Armed Forces Of The Federal Republic Of Nigeria By The Political Leaders Of The South-East Geo-Political Zone
In Enugu, Enugu State On 18th May, 2013
Your Excellency, Mr. President,
We the leaders and people of the South-East Geopolitical Zone are immensely gratified and delighted to welcome you once again to our zone. We cherish every opportunity and privilege of interacting with you. We feel especially honoured that you usually find time, despite your very busy schedule, to be with us. We therefore thank you most sincerely for your present visit.
As unequivocal stakeholders in Nigeria, we are mindful of the great demands – both political and physical – which constituent parts of this country make on you. You have handled such challenges with great equanimity and statesmanship. You have carried us all along and shown abiding interest in, and support for, our zone. For that, Mr. President, we will continue to be immensely grateful.
We have previously expressed our appreciation for the eminently qualified sons and daughters of this zone who you have honoured with various national assignments and federal appointments. Please be rest assured that we will always avail you of our very best and qualitative candidates, who are not only proud and honoured to serve, but are also committed to bringing added value to every task you may assign them.
Your presence here today is not fortuitous. It is a culmination of our long-standing yearning, and a fulfilment of your personal commitment to the development of this zone, the broadening of our developmental infrastructure and our quest for expansive and sustainable development. As you are aware, Sir, the people of this geopolitical zone remain the most widely travelled in this nation. It is only fitting, therefore, that they should merit their own International Airport as they traverse the world to market the entrepreneurial attributes of Nigeria and seek to attract investors that empower our people, create wealth and generate income. We are therefore grateful for the commissioning of the new domestic terminal of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu and the ground-breaking ceremony of the International Terminal of the same airport.
Collectively and as individual states, our zone continues to boast of our ennobling efforts, oftentimes against many odds, to pursue policies germane to your transformational and restorative agenda. Doing so, sometimes within the limits of our resources, requires dexterity, leadership and resourcefulness. It is heart-warming that we are making progress and accomplishing our mandates in this regard. However, our challenges are far from over.
Your Excellency, we are not and do not wish to be like Oliver Twist who keeps asking for more. We are mindful of our responsibilities in terms of governance, delivery of democracy dividends and empowering our people. We do also acknowledge the multifarious challenges our institutions face. Even with our best efforts, we know that we do not always meet the aspirations of our people. It is exactly for these reasons that we often seek partnership with the Federal Government, and sometimes ask for direct intervention from the Government at the Centre.
It is trite to note that our needs are numerous and our challenges multifaceted. However, several critical projects in this zone cry for dire attention. And it is to those we must now turn.
SECOND NIGER BRIDGE: First, we must acknowledge your effort so far to ensure that the aspiration of Nigerians to bring the execution of this critical project to fruition is realized. Sir, this long-delayed project is not just a necessity for our nation and people; it is indeed a political imperative and a strategic development requirement. The bridge will serve as an important economic corridor that is at the heart of a globally recognized emerging industrial hub, not just for this nation, but for the entire Africa. The salient national benefits of a second bridge across River Niger cannot be overemphasized. Sir, at this juncture, it is pertinent to remind you that in our last meeting, you promised to flag off this project within the First Quarter of 2013. We humbly plead that you return to our zone in the not-too-distant future to fulfil this promise for which your commitment is not in doubt.
FEDERAL ROADS: Mr. President Sir, there is an inextricable nexus between sustainable development and the presence of a good road network. The present state of most federal roads in our zone remains deplorable and our people very often use these roads as a comparative measure of the federal government’s commitment to our zone. In this context, Sir, we wish to once more as a people appeal for your due attention to the Enugu-Port-Harcourt, Enugu-Onitsha, and the Owerri-Elele federal roads, which we have repeatedly brought to your attention. These roads form a critical tripod in our national transportation mosaic. Similarly, a critical bridge on the hump of the federal road linking Abakaliki to Ogoja is in dire need of replacement.
ECOLOGICAL PROBLEMS: Mr. President, you are all too aware of the ecological challenges in our zone. This zone suffers the most horrific and attending destructive consequences of soil erosion in Sub-Saharan Africa. As the global climate evolves, our ecological challenges multiply and worsen. You have personally come to our rescue in recent times, but we are yet to be free from this hump. The erosional incursions in our five states seem to have no boundaries. Some work has been done, but much more remains to be done. Frankly Sir, the remedial measures are so capital-intensive that erosion problems are now well beyond the scope which states can grapple with individually. As a zone, we are all at risk. There is clear and imminent danger that towns and villages, farmlands, roads and homes will disappear into great voids created by yawning gullies if urgent steps are not taken. With over 2000 active erosion sites in our zone, we ask for sustained federal remedial measures to stem their destructive consequences.
CONCLUSION: Your Excellency, Sir, we have limited ourselves to these three core issues in order to underpin the importance which we attach to them. We are profoundly grateful that you have listened to us with a keen sense of empathy and a full grasp of our collective plight. We remain hopeful that our earnest plea will result in your desirable intervention. We have been privileged in the past to benefit from your compassion and thus remain hopeful this time.
In closing, we hereby affirm that we share fully in your personal desire to find peaceful and abiding solutions to the many political and socio-economic challenges confronting our nation. For our part, we wish to re-affirm our commitment to ensuring that the bond of performance between the federal and state governments are sustained, and remain proactive and constructive.
As much as we seek your support, we also wish to reassure you of our unalloyed backing for your office and for you personally. Sir, be assured that the South-East Zone is faithfully and solidly behind you. We stand with you, Sir.
As we march forward, we earnestly pray that you will continue to exhibit the strength, wisdom, and dignifying but quiet equanimity which have become the trademark of your purposeful leadership. We hope, and sincerely so, that we can once again, count on and benefit from your approach as a compassionate problem solver, in urgently attending to our pressing needs and those of other parts of our dear country. We thank you. We wish you well and we ask Almighty God to grant you His Blessings and Grace, now and always.
Thank you Mr. President for your attention.