President Goodluck Jonathan
FG earmarks N158bn for 2nd Niger Bridge, erosion
By Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu
President Goodluck Jonathan saturday in Enugu declared that the south-east geo-political zone remain the zone that has given him the strongest support in the past two years of his presidency, pledging that the zone would accordingly reap bountiful dividends of democracy before he leaves office.
He spoke even as Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala disclosed that in line with the president’s commitment to improving the socio-economic situation in the southeast, a whopping N158 billion has been earmarked for the tackling of the myriads of challenges facing the zone, noting specifically that N30 billion has already been secured and kept in a separate account for the take off of the proposed second Niger Bridge.
Speaking in Enugu when he laid the foundation of the new International Terminal and the remodelled terminal of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, as well as during a town-hall meeting with stakeholders of the southeast zone, the president noted that his administration remained irrevocably committed to changing the country for the better, adding that by the time he would leave office, Nigeria would have attained a new status as a nation that would positively compete with other nations of the world.
The president, who addressed an audience that included, the second republic Vice President, Dr Alex Ekwueme, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, Deputy Speaker House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha, governors of the five states of the zone, managing director of Capital Oil and Gas, Ifeanyi Uba, National Vice chairman of the PDP, South-east, Col. Austin Akobundu, members of the national and state assemblies, said with his administration’s efforts across critical sectors of the economy so far, he was convinced that the nation would be better improved.
He noted that the remodelled airport had the capacity to carry at least 500, 000 passengers annually, adding that Enugu is the gateway to the South East Region, the home of the entrepreneurship in Nigeria which justified the Akanu Ibiam Airport to the status of International Airport.
He explained that with the current status of international airport, the millions of enterprising people in the region would no longer travel to Lagos, Port Harcourt, Abuja or Kano International airports for their foreign travels.
He stated that the remodelling project in Enugu was part of the national programme aimed at transforming the country’s air transport sector, adding that he was pleased to note that as one of the 13 airports designated as perishable cargo centres across the country, the well-equipped perishable cargo terminal would be built in this airport.
“When constructed, the facility will accelerate the quick processing and evacuation of perishable agricultural products directly from the farm to consumers in Europe and elsewhere in the world,” he stated.
Jonathan said the facility will give Nigerians a lot of opportunities, particularly people from the South East Zone to export agricultural produce and create wealth domestically.
“The evacuation of perishable agricultural products out of the Africa is $15 business opportunity. Nigeria as a nation has not been able to key in and this is one of the areas the aviation minister has been quite particular how we in the this country can also key into that multi-billion business” the president, who gave approved for the designation of a free trade zone extending from 9th mile to Akanu Ibiam International Airport, noted.
Also, at the town-hall meeting, the president who watched as his ministers including Aviation, Power, Finance, Works and Environment gave detailed accounts of the account of activities in their respective ministries with regards to the south east said the people of the south-east would not regret giving him maximum support. “We are totally committed to transforming Nigeria. I’m please listening to Nigeria. This government is celebrating two years by May 29th , we will continue to do well in the identified areas. All we request is peace because with it there will be development, employment.
“We have false religious conflict, ethnic cleansing in the north, kidnapping in the south-south and south east but we must we must continue to plead with people to live in peace and if people refuse we will continue to enforce law and order.”