Senator Victor Umeh also said the presence of roadblocks along the South-East zone must be reduced to ensure people get to their destinations faster.
“Checkpoints are necessary, but the numbers are too high,” the lawmaker noted.
Consequently, the lawmakers urged the police and military to always seek to balance the imperatives of national security in the monitoring of an environment, especially when there are no evident security breaches.
They also direct the Senate Committees on Police and Army to take a tour of the South-East expressways to investigate the matter and report back to the chamber.
Thanking Senator Mao for raising the motion, Senate President Bukola Saraki brought his colleagues’ attention to the death of seven police officers who died on Monday.
He said as much as the National Assembly pays attention to ordinary citizens that lose their lives, they should do even more for those who die while protecting the lives of Nigerians.
”I would like us to please find out the circumstances around the killings of these seven police officers and how we can also commiserate with their families so that they know that we do care and we do know what they are doing to keep us all safe,” Senator Saraki said.
He also urged the Senate Committee Chairman on Police to look into the incident and report to the lawmakers next week.
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomole, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, on Tuesday stormed Owerri, the Imo State capital for the South East mega rally held in honour of President Muhammadu Buhari.
This follows a bid to canvass support from the region towards the 2019 presidential election.
Other dignitaries present at the occasion are the state governor Rochas Okorocha, Senator Andy Uba, Governor of Kano state, Abdullahi Ganduje, former governor of Borno state, Ali-Modu Sheriff, National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, former governor of Bayelsa State, Timpre Slyvia, amongst others.
President Muhammadu Buhari has assured the people of the South East that the region will benefit tremendously from the 2018 budget, especially in the area of infrastructure.
President Buhari gave the assurance on Wednesday in Awka, the Anambra State capital during a two-day working visit to the region.
“I assure you if you study very closely the budget of next year we have earmarked, and we are expecting the National Assembly to pass what we intend to do about infrastructure, the South East is going to benefit tremendously,” he said.
The President was addressing a gathering of supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the party’s mega rally where he declared his support for the party’s flagbearer, Tony Nwoye.
He said the impact of the APC must be felt by all Nigeria’s, adding that it was time for people of the South East to reap the fruit of their labour.
“I think we (APC) have worked very hard and the result of your working hard should be shown in the performance of your state government and in the centre,” he said.
President Buhari further appraised the performance of the APC in the last two years since he assumed office, saying the Federal government has recorded a remarkable progress in improving the nation’s economy and security.
He, however, called on APC faithful in the state and other residents to support the party’s governorship candidate when they go to poll on November 18.
“I think we have made some progress in securing the country, secondly the economy; we are very lucky God listened to the prayers, mostly of ordinary Nigerians.
“I thank you very much for staying for so long to watch us and I expect this clear demonstration of your support for the party to be demonstrated next Saturday,” he said.
The rally, which held at the Alex Ekwueme Square, was also attended by the APC National Chairman, John Oyegun and party leaders from Anambra State and other parts of the country.
The Presidency has denied claims that President Muhammadu Buhari visit to the South-East region is politically motivated.
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina rejected the claims in a phone interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today.
The President left Abuja on Tuesday for Ebonyi State, kicking off his first official visit to the South East since he assumed office in 2015.
“If some people are infusing such motives, they have a right to their thoughts. As far as the President is concerned, this is a state in the country he has been invited to come on a state visit and commission some projects,” Mr Adesina said.
In the defence of his principal, the presidential spokesman explained that the state in question (Ebonyi) is under the control of a party in the opposition, the People’s Democratic Party.
According to him, the President’s visit, therefore, shows that he means well for all parts of the country regardless of political affiliations.
Mr Adesina rejected reports that the Buhari-led administration sidelined the zone in his appointments.
“Talking about appointments from the region, if you were here today in the places where the President was received, what is just the general opinion, what they have been asking for is just ‘more.’ It is not as if we have not gotten anything, they say thank you for the ones we have but we want more.
“And if you ask people from other parts of the country, it will be the same request, it will be the same sentiment. Thank you for what you have given us, but we want more.
“So, it not only one region of the country that has issues about being under-appointed or under-represented in govt, almost every region can lay claim to that,” he added.
President Muhammadu Buhari says his government does not discriminate against the south-east region or any part of the country.
He said this on Tuesday while addressing a crowd during his two-day working visit in Abakiliki, Ebonyi State.
The President also noted that his visit was a symbol of a strong belief in the Unity of Nigeria, and therefore, encouraged the youths to dismiss any calls for secession.
“My presence here today is a demonstration of a strong belief in the Unity of Nigeria as the most populous country in Africa with over 300 ethnic groups – our diversity is almost unique among nations.
“The people of the South-East are known for their ingenuity, industrial and commercial talent.
“There is no part in Nigeria where you will not find Igbo entrepreneurs, both men and women contributing to the development of their adopted communities.
“So I am asking you all not to buy into the senseless propaganda on secession. Igbo is Nigeria and Nigeria is Igbo. Both are Inseparable.
“We must, therefore, continue to commit ourselves to the development of Nigeria while we sustain our unity without compromising on our cultural identities.
“We must work towards building a Nigeria that we can sleep at night, knowing that tomorrow will be better than today.”
The President also stressed the need for nation-building and the need for leaders at all levels to teach their subjects the importance of unity, starting from the home-front.
“The task of nation-building is a continuous one, it relies on the successful transition of factual knowledge from one nation to the other. This means it is our collective responsibility to ensure we do not betray our founding fathers as we transform the Nigerian project from one generation to the next.
“As our national anthem says, the labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain – So parents, speak to your children on the importance of their heritage, culture and being open-minded.
“Teachers, teach your students about the history of this nation, and leaders, we must lead by example and show tolerance and acceptance of diversity.”
Buhari also expressed gratitude to the government and traditional leaders of Ebonyi State for conferring on him two traditional titles.
“I’m delighted to be in Abakiliki today, to interact with the good people of this state and indeed the south-east region as a whole.
“I want to express my gratitude for their hospitality and the warm reception since our arrival in Abakiliki Some Hours Ago.
“In the last few hours, I have commissioned some landmark projects and laid the foundation stone for the Ebonyi City Mall and fly-over bridge projects.
“I commend his Excellency, Governor David Umahi for his vision and commitment to the development of his state.
“In the course of my visit, I also had the honour and privilege of unveiling the statue of a great Nigerian – Sir Akanu Ibiam, whose notable record of humanitarianism and advocacy of free primary education will continue to be an inspiration to all.
“I am also grateful to the people of Ebonyi as well as the southeast traditional rulers who today bestowed on me, traditional titles. I am Enyioma 1 of Ebonyi (A good Friend) and to the South East and I am Ochioha NdiIgbo. I thank you for this honour and the kind gesture,” he added.
Amid renewed claims that President Muhammadu Buhari is sectional, his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, appeared on Friday’s edition of Channels Television’s Politics Today.
He spoke with Seun Okinbaloye about the accusations, the controversy in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, the state of the probe report on the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Director-General of the National Intelligence Agencies, and other issues.
One of the major issues on the table for this Presidency is the issue of corruption in the NNPC. We have heard so many sides to this story. What can the Presidency tell us? The Vice President has said he did not sign the contracts, he signed the loans. Did the President sign the contracts?
When the Vice President of the country has spoken, there is hardly anything I will add to it. I will just say let’s work with what the Vice President has told the country.
On the issue of trying to sanitise the NNPC, what are the details of the investigation into the NNPC and the activities surrounding some of the allegations linked to it?
It’s not just the NNPC that is being sanitised or is going to be sanitised. It’s a countrywide exercise. You know that the Buhari administration came with a resolve to clean up so many areas of the country. So, it would be wrong to isolate just the NNPC. The NNPC would be part of the larger cleanup of the country.
How did the President resolve the issues between Dr Maikanti Baru and Dr Ibe Kachikwu?
The issues are still unravelling. Just yesterday we had a new perspective on the issue from the Vice President. The issue is still unravelling but I can assure you that at the end of the day it is going to be permanently and amicably sorted.
Some of the unresolved issues as regarding allegations of corruption remain big issues. Don’t forget, this is a government that says it wants to fight corruption. How is the Presidency hoping to rid itself of all of those allegations?
You have seen a rapprochement between the Minister of State for Petroleum and the GMD of NNPC. It’s just one step, many others will be taken because it is very important that as long as they continue to serve the country, serve the President in these capacities, then they must learn to work together. The issues are going to be resolved; you can rest assured of that.
You didn’t answer my question about how the Presidency resolved the issue between these two men. Was there any moment when the two men were called into the Presidency to sheath their swords?
It’s in the public domain. There have been engagements and it’s all part of a process. That process will be completed and everything will be normal.
Let me take you on one of the statements you released today about what you called deliberate twisting of President Buhari’s commendable interface with the World Bank President. Clarify this issue for us. At the meeting between the World Bank chief and the President, did the President ask the World Bank chief to focus on the northern region of the country in terms of development?
Well, it has been explained; right from the very first week that the President got into office. His first trip was to the G7 in Germany and what did he put on the table? ‘Help us to rebuild the North East. The North East has been devastated, it has been degraded by insurgency which had been there since 2009′. In 2015 when he went to the G7 meeting he said, ‘Help us, the place needs to be rebuilt’. They asked him, ‘Is it funds?’ He said he didn’t want funds so that the funds will not end up being misappropriated. He would rather that those countries send in technical expertise, send materials and help in the rebuilding of infrastructure. And then (during) the first trip to Washington, there was a meeting with World Bank and he said the same thing; ‘Help us to rebuild the North East’. And (during) all the engagements the President has had both in the country and outside it with multilateral agencies, with other governments, he has always said, ‘Help us to rebuild the North East’. Now, if you look at the transcript of the encounter between the World Bank President and the media, which now has been released and is online, the question specifically was ‘What is the World Bank doing to help Nigeria rebuild the North East? And it was the answer of the World Bank President that some sections of the media and particularly online media twisted and they used it to try to brand the President as sectional, which was uncharitable, which was unconscionable, which was downright mischievous and wicked. So, we had to issue that statement clarifying the position.
A lot of people have this perception that the President is sectional in his treatment of some issues. What is the Presidency doing to rectify this issue?
The fact that you called it perception does not mean it is 100 percent reality. It’s a perception. But then we know that perception matters. One thing we must realise is that the President has a pan-Nigerian mandate. The way the country is structured, the way our Constitution is structured, no President can emerge without winning a pan-Nigerian mandate. That was what the President won. So, it’s not easy for you to then accuse the President and sustain it that he is sectional. No, it’s not possible. If he was sectional, he would not be elected in the first place.
Is the President aware of some of the statements made by Nigerians, some of those who voted him into office, that he is sectional in some of his dealings?
If they say those things, it does not necessarily make them right. That could be allegations, that could be conjecture but it does not necessarily make them right.
But is the Presidency making efforts to correct those notions? If you have four children and one or two of them believe that you love one above the other, wouldn’t you, as a father for example, make efforts to show that you love your four children in the same manner?
Making an effort to show (that you love them equally) will not be the right thing. I think it is better to just continue to do what is proper and that is what the President is doing. He will continue to do what is fair and what is just and what is equitable.
Do you think that Mr President has been fair to all the regions in terms of appointments so far?
As much as possible and he defended that in his meeting with the South-East stakeholders today. Let me give you an example he (Buhari) cited. When the stakeholders raised the issue of appointments, they first talked about the security agencies and he told them that was an area to be careful with because, there, competence, (and) seniority are very important. If you undermine those, you could be undermining the whole security architecture itself. Then when they talked about other positions, he pointed out to them that of the five South-Eastern states four of the ministers are full ministers but in the North, core northern states – Sokoto, Kaduna, Katsina, he mentioned all the seven states, they had ministers of state. Even his own state, Katsina, has a minister of state. Kaduna has a minister of state, Sokoto has a minister of state. These are states that you will think will have full ministers. But from the South East, four of the five ministers are full ministers.
One other area where some Nigerians are of the opinion that the Presidency may have a bias in handling is the fight against corruption. For example, the SGF probe report has been with the President for several weeks – submitted by the Vice President. The question is when will that report be made public and the decision of the President made public?
As soon as possible, as soon as practicable, as soon as the President is done with that report. Like I have said a number of times, the President is a very meticulous person. He would not punish anybody unjustly. The report came in six volumes. Of course, there is an executive summary, but knowing this President, he would read that report page after page and when he is done with studying it, he will come out with his pronouncement.
Governors for the South South and South East under the aegis of the South-South South-East Governors forum on Sunday night met in Owerri, the Imo state capital expressing worry over growing agitations in the country.
The governors during the meeting which lasted till midnight back Nigeria’s indivisibility status and deliberate on what will foster unity and development in the region.
The chairman of the forum, Akwa Ibom State Governor Emmanuel Udom said the forum is concerned by the calls for a breakaway by some leaders adding that it is a worrying development.
“This forum is also concerned with the voices that are calling for self determination from some sections of our dear country. We are worried about the state of the nation which has given rise to growing agitations from all over the country. From the North to the South, East and West.
“Also of concern are the issues of justice, fairness, and equity which many believe are in deficit in our country,” he said.
Udom also said the forum irrespective of political differences have come together chat a new course that will foster economic interest and integration for the region and member states.
Governors present at the meeting include Abia State, Okezuo Ikpeazu, Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa, Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, Cross River State, Bennedict Ayade, Bayalsa State, Seriaki Dickson, Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and the Deputy governor of Anambra state.
Leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party in the South East have said they fully support the decision to zone the party’s slot for the 2019 Presidential election to the North and reserve the spot for National Chairman to the South.
The Chairman of the party in the South East, Mr Austin Umahi, made this known after a closed-door meeting with other party leaders in the zone.
During the meeting, governors from the party, National Assembly members, and the chairman were mandated to liaise with other zones to reach an understanding in respect of the next national chairman of the party.
Other resolutions include support for party’s candidate for the Anambra State governorship election and the unity of the country.
The meeting was attended by former Vice President Alex Ekwueme, Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, former governor of Anambra State Peter Obi, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, members of the National Assembly, among others/
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has deployed some of its aircraft to support the “Exercise Egwu Eke”, also known as “Operation Python Dance”, the in South East.
Various air assets including the Alpha Jet aircraft has immediately been deployed by the Air Force to it’s 115 Special Operations Group in Port Harcourt, Rivers State to support the ongoing exercise of the Nigerian Army.