For Entertainment, Education and Information 


Facelift for the South-East Zone


The planned Federal Government’s infrastructural facelift for the South-East geo-political zone of the country commenced on Saturday when President Goodluck Jonathan performed the foundation laying ceremony of the new international terminal and the commissioning of the remodeled terminal of Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.

In a town hall meeting with stakeholders in the zone later, the president unveiled plans by the government to spend N158 billion on projects targeted at addressing the infrastructural imbalance in the zone. The projects billed to benefit from the presidential largesse include the second Niger Bridge in Onitsha, Anambra State, solution to ecological and erosion problems, roads, electricity and others.

Out of the earmarked amount, N30 billion from the Sure-P funds will go for the second Niger Bridge while N60 billion is to be spent on comprehensive solution to ecological and erosion problems in the zone. The remaining N68 billion will be expended on other infrastructural projects in the zone including roads, electricity, etc. Besides, the president has also approved the establishment of a Free Trade Zone for the South-East to complement services at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.

The president’s gesture is highly commendable taking into consideration that successive past administrations in the country were aware of this infrastructural deficit of the zone but did nothing to address it. It is, indeed, significant that the president is looking towards the South-East to address the age-long glaring neglect of the zone in terms of federal government’s presence when compared to the other remaining geo-political zones in the country. The first phase in addressing such neglect is the remodeled terminal of International Airport, Enugu.

It will be recalled that the present day South-East zone was part of the defunct Eastern Region, which economy was reputed to be among the fastest growing among developing countries in the 1960s. But today, the South-East is virtually lagging behind other geo-political zones in the country in terms of all indices of socio-economic development. All the former industries in the zone like the Niger Cement Industry at Nkalagu, Golden Guinea Breweries, Umuahia and the Glass Industry at Aba had closed shop without any hope of resuscitation. All the industries established by the administrations of Chief Jim Nwobodo and the late Dr. Sam Mbakwe in former Anambra and Imo states that form the present South-East zone are still shadows of their former selves.

The industrial orbit of Aba, Onitsha and Nnewi is suffering from perennial government neglect in terms of provision of basic infrastructure like power, roads and water. The zone ranks first as one that has the worst roads and the highest graduate unemployment in the country. It is also worth recalling that the zone is home to many farm settlements established by the former Premier of Eastern Region, the late Dr. M.I.Okpara. It is also the cassava and palm produce belt of Nigeria. The agricultural potential of this zone in terms of palm produce, rice, yams and cassava has been utterly neglected by successive state administrations in the zone.

This has inexorably led to massive youth unemployment in the zone thereby making it, unfortunately, the home of mindless kidnapping, vicious armed banditry, cyber crimes and other vices that modern youths have embraced due to lack of jobs and erosion of cherished societal ethos and values. It is, therefore, interesting that the president used the occasion to speak on the commencement of work on the second Niger Bridge in Onitsha.

The president should be reminded that this is not the first time he will speak on the second Niger Bridge which has been on the drawing board since 1999. Former president, Olusegun Obasanjo actually performed the foundation laying ceremony to flag-off work on the bridge before leaving office in 2007 but all was a mirage. The late president Umaru Yar’Adua was too sick to even contemplate any concrete action on the bridge. Since Jonathan has come on board, he has vowed to build the bridge or go into voluntary exile. In fact, much has been said and written about the bridge.

What remains now is action. Let work start on this very important bridge now as the president has promised the leaders of the South-East. The president should match his words with action and do the needful to see through the vital project. He should keep his promise. The bridge is an important road artery linking Delta State with Anambra, the gateway to the South-East. It is no longer hidden that the first Niger Bridge has aged considerably and might soon collapse.

To forestall such a tragedy, government should hasten up the construction of the second Niger Bridge. Government should also tackle the problem of perennial soil erosion in the zone. The zone has the worst cases of soil erosion. The most notorious being the Nanka axis in Anambra State and the Amucha axis in Imo State. However, there are other erosion sites in the zone seriously begging for attention. It is regrettable that past efforts to check this ecological problem did not yield the desired results. Let there be comprehensive approach to tackle the problem this time around.

Government should deploy the best available cutting-edge technology to confront the menacing monster that has caused untold hardships to many inhabitants of the highly erosion-prone areas of the zone. Let those charged with these projects see that they come to fruition. Similarly, let government be serious in its other promises including roads, electricity and the Free Trade Zone so that the people will not see them as mere promises. Government should also address peculiar problems facing other geo-political zones in the country.

Let effort be directed at checking desert encroachment in some northern states. Another problem afflicting all the zones is massive youth unemployment. It has become a general malaise in the country that should be urgently tackled. The growing unemployment is a danger to societal well-being and progress. Now that the president has promised to address years of infrastructural neglect in the South-East, let him fulfill them. Culled from the Sun.

Number of comments: 0

Name: E-mailaddress: Homepage:
:) :( :D ;) :| :P |-) (inlove) :O ;( :@ 8-) :S (flower) (heart) (star)

Enter the code embedded in the image