By Joshua Chibuzo Andrew, Owerri
Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has flagged off the historic proposed hydrographic survey of the dredging of Oguta/Orashi river to Degema in Rivers State as a proposed sea route to the Atlantic Ocean, even as the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu pleaded to the President, Muhammadu Buhari to release Nnamdi Kanu before he leaves office.
The Vice President who performed the flag off in a ceremony at the bank of Oguta Lake/Orashi river in Oguta council area of Imo on Thursday said the project is under the auspice of the Imo State government, the Nigerian Navy and a consortium of technical partners with the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Osinbajo said that the project would among other things connect waterways to hinterlands as well as expand Nigeria’s shipping and agricultural sectors.
He added that the project will expand Nigeria‘a free trade zone and aid her contributed quota to trade in Africa and the world.
He enjoined well meaning Nigerians to join hands with the Imo Government and Nigerian Navy to see project to fruition.
“Today marks an important milestone in the economic development of Imo, the Southeast and Nigeria at large and couldn’t have come at a better time than now.
“It gives me great pleasure to be part of this historic initiative all I enjoin all well meaning Nigerians to put hands on deck to actualise this project.
Speaking, Gov. Hope Uzodimma thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for his support in the recovery of Imo from the hands of bandits.
He said that the project would be executed through public/private partnership adding that it would create additional employment opportunities for Imo people.
“This project is a harbinger of several other multifaceted projects incapsulated in the socio-economic development of Imo State with the capacity to equip the southeast with a robust and self sufficient economy.
“We will establish an industrial cluster in the area to aid economic activities and for the records, Imo and private sector will fund project in close synergy with the Nigerian Navy“, he said.
Also, Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor thanked President Buhari for the leverage to build the capacity of the Nigerian Navy and the military at large.
Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo said the project would provide the enabling environment for wealth generation and brisk movement of goods and services.
He called for a quick dredging of the access route and thanked President Buhari for the provision of effective hydrographic services.
He also thanked Uzodimma for partnering with the Nigerian Navy and called on host communities to protect and preserve the legacy.
President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanw described the dredging as a dream come true and urged Government to speedily actualise the project.
“Igbo is happy, Igbo is grateful. We urge the federal government to actualise the construction of the project. Igbo people in diaspora are ready to contribute to the funding of the project, if need be“, he said.
He however called on President Buhari to actualise the release of detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu before the end of his tenure as according to him, Igbo people had no intentions to secede.
The event was attended by prominent traditional rulers including the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe and the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Eze Ilomuanya and Imo State Chairman of Traditional rulers, Eze Emmanuel Okeke.
Other dignitaries were Minister for Trade and Investment, Alhaji Muazu Sambo; former Imo governor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim; former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Maurice Iwu; officials of the Imo government as well as top officials of the Nigerian Navy.