PRESIDENT BUHARI PROMISES COASTAL RAILWAY IN ONITSHA
By: Esther Asoanya
The clamour for a coastal railway in Onitsha may soon be a thing of the past as President Mohammad Buhari yesterday promised that construction of a coastal railway that will cross Onitsha to Asaba, Arbor, Warri, Itakpe Ajokuta to Abuja will soon commence,
President Buhari who was represented by the Ministerof Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige at the 18th Ofala Festival of the traditional ruler of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe, promised the host communities of the 2nd Niger Bridge that all their genuine demands and compensation will be given to them, but appealed to them stop further disruption of construction activities at the bridge.
President Buhari said that his administration is not discriminating against any section of the country, saying that the second Niger Bridge which was projected for completion in 2023 will now be completed in 2022 judging by the speed work is ongoing at the bridge.
In his welcome address for his18th Ofala festival the Obi of Onitsha Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe thanked the Federal Government for the continued work at the 2nd Niger Bridge.
Igwe Achebe also thanked the Nigerian Tourism Development Coorporation for endorsing Onitsha Ofala Festival as a national tourism activity.
The Obi of Onitsha however, said that like Oliver Twist that the people of South East and Anambra State in particular are asking for the expidiated work at the bridge and the reconstruction of Onitsha Enugu road, Enugu Port Harcourt road and other federal roads in the South East that are begging for attention.
The Onitsha monarch however regretted that seven weeks after the closure of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu for reconstruction work, work is yet to start at the airport, saying that the people of the South East are suffering greatly following the development.
The traditional ruler also regretted the activities of Fulani herdsmen in the South East and how they are affecting the farmers, saying that traditional rulers in the South East are in agreement with the South East Governors who have made it clear that it is an offense for any herdsmen wielding guns and other dangerous weapons to be seen on the streets of South East.
The Obi of Onitsha also told the Federal Government that the South East traditional rulers met and decided that they are not accepting any Rural Grazing Area, RUGA, Settlement in any part of South East, because there’s no available land for such programme.
Igwe Achebe who is also the Chairman of the South East and Anambra State Traditional Rulers Council, while thanking Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State, for some of the wonderful achievements he has made in the State appealed to him to commence the dualization of Awka Road Onitsha and Onitsha Aguleri road, following the incessant traffic jams being witnessed on those roads.
He also called for the upgrading of Nwafor Orizu Collage of Education to a University to provide admission opportunities for the teaming Nigerians and the people of the state who are seeking admission into the university.
On the of Onitsha people under his rulership, Igwe Achebe said that over 140 youths of Onitsha community have been trained in entrepreneurial programmes and are today employers of labour.
ON his part the deputy Governor of Anambra State Dr Nkem Okeke while congratulating the Obi of Onitsha on his 18th Ofala festival called on Onitsha indigenous to remain law abiding as the state Government is doing everything possible to ensure security of lives and property in the state.
He said that paliative work on some portholes on Anambra roads will soon commence.and regretted the hardship people are experiencing presently owing to the rains.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Christopher Ngige, Minister of State for Environment Mrs Sharon Ikeazor, Member Representing Nnewi North, Nnewi South and Ekwusigo Federal Constituency, Hon. Chris Azubogu, the traditional ruler of Umueri, Igwe Ben Emeka and his Aguleri counterpart, Igwe Mike Idigo were some dignitaries that attended the Ofala.