Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano, had called for a visible Federal Government presence in the Southeast geopolitical zone and Anambra state in particular, as the zone had clearly been distanced in the scheme of developmental projects especially in the area of road infrastructure.
The Governor said this when he received the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola at the Governor’s Lodge, Amawbia.
He stressed that any positive action taken by the federal government in the Southeast presently would go a long way in rekindling confidence and sense of belonging in them.
The Minister assured the Governor of the commitment of the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to stimulate the economy with infrastructural development and that the Southeast would get its fair share.
Mr Fashola had been in the Southeast for a week inspecting federal projects, especially the Second Niger Bridge project and the roads.
The Minister whose entourage comprised top officials of the Ministry, commended Governor Obiano for his intervention on some failed federal roads and assured him that modalities of reimbursement were being worked out.
He relayed to the Governor the realities on ground with respect to the ongoing projects and maintained that the ministry would support the state in achieving its developmental aims as the federal government was not in competition with any state government, rather it would help them in successfully completing all projects everywhere.
He said: “Our concern essentially is to come and see the state of the federal roads, especially those that connect the states in the Southeast themselves and also to states in other zone.
“I will like to thank you for the interventions that you have made on some of the federal government roads and as I briefed you before, the President is mindful of the contributions to the state and even your intelligence has kicked off the plan by the federal government this year to make a provision for a board to settle all the state obligations and also various debts owed to contractors.
“This is part of the strategy from the federal government and Mr President to use infrastructure to stimulate the economy.”
Three officials from the ministry also gave status updates on the various projects in the state but not without appreciating all the support they had received from the state government.
Governor Obiano, in his response then commended the renewed interest of the federal government in the federal infrastructure in the Southeast and stressed the need for federal presence as that would boost the confidence of the people in the present administration at the center.
“I am delighted more importantly that you addressed some of the key areas that are bothering us. I’m happy to hear from you that the federal government will start work on the Second Niger Bridge this year.
“Finally, what we are saying here is that we want federal government presence in the Southeast as a whole and in Anambra in particular.
“We have lacked this presence for a very long time and their presence here will clearly enkindle a sense of belonging and improve major activities in the area,” he said.
After the meeting, the inspection team from the Governor’s lodge moved to sites of inspection, first through the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway to the Second Niger Bridge.
The construction was in the early phase, although for two years the contracting firm had registered its presence at the site.
According to the Division Manager of the company, Mr. Hadi Bley, they were awaiting funding for the commencement of construction and the early phase was expected to be completed within eight months and then the main construction would begin. This might likely take 36 to 40 months.
The Minister promised that inspection would be constant until the bridge is completed.