I Was Approached to Replace Ekweremadu, Says Abaribe

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    Second Niger Bridge missing in budget, govs allege

    By Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu

    The Chairman of the South-east Senators’ Forum, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, yesterday said he had been approached by unnamed persons to replace Senator Ike Ekweremadu as Deputy Senate president.

    This is coming as the governors of the South-east states have alleged that the performance of the 2017 budget of the federal government in the zone showed that the construction of second Niger Bridge was not included in the budget. 

    Abaribe however said the move was one of the efforts being made to break the unity of the South-east lawmakers in order to effectively clip the wings of Ekweremadu.

    The senator spoke as the Enugu State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) vowed to show the embattled deputy Senate president the exit door in the coming general election, insisting that his four-terms in the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly have been dismal. 

    The  state APC said rather than allow Ekweremadu for the fifth time, they would support President Muhammadu Buhari’s Adviser on Justice Sector Reform, Mrs. Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagwu, to represent them, saying  the deputy Senate president has overstayed his welcome in the National Assembly.

    But, speaking at a one-day workshop for the presentation of the performance report of the 2017 Federal Capital Budget and South-east states organised by the South East Governors’ Forum held in Enugu, Abaribe said senators from the zone remained united. 

    “We are united in one purpose and we have demonstrated that by ensuring that Ekweremadu remains the deputy Senate president. I’ve been approached severally to take the position and I said no!

    “I was clearly told that the position was not the exclusive reserve of Enugu State but I made it clear that Ekweremadu represents our collective interest,” he said. 

    Meanwhile, the governors of the South-east states yesterday alleged that a report on the performance of the 2017 budget of the federal government in the zone showed that the much celebrated construction of second Niger Bridge in Onitsha, Anambra State, has never been budgeted for. 

    They also lamented that the zone had been lagging behind in the implementation of federal government budgets when compared to other geopolitical zones in the country. 

    They asked the government to effectively carry the zone along in the implementation of the 2018 budget, insisting that the people of the area were being alienated. 

    The governors who spoke through the Director General of their Forum, Prof. Simeon Otuanya, noted that the budgets were designed to ensure the restoration of the Nigerian economy on the path of robust and sustainable growth across various sectors and geographical spaces around the country, stressing that it should fulfill expectations of the public

    “We believe that such re-balancing must take into consideration the concepts of equity and fairness vertically and horizontally in other to develop every nook and cranny of the country. We will continue to work as think-tanks to review budget allocations and implementations at the state and national levels for all the years forward with special interest on how they are helping the region towards economic renaissance,”the governors said.