BY EGUONO ODJEGBA
The League of Maritime Editors (LOME) has accused President Muhammadu Buhari and Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma of playing on the intelligence of Nigerians with the proposed dredging of Orashi River which it purports to develop into a seaport, warning that the proposition is no more than a political gimmick the All Progressive Congress (APC) led government plan to dangle as bait to win cheap merited votes in the eastern region .
According to LOME, the plot coming at the approach of the 2023 general election is one electioneering tool the Buhari government believes it can deploy to attract votes, in the realization that the government has failed in all indices of performances in the area of critical developments, most especially in the eastern region; adding that the Orashi River does not possess the required fundamentals to transform into a seaport.
The group which was reacting to a statement credited to Governor Uzodinma in which who said the federal government hadsapproved the dredging of Orashi River to the Atlantic Sea to serve as the first seaport in the South -East region, expressed concern that whereas the proposal appears good in principle, the proposition LOME reasoned sounds essentially fraudulent and politically motivated; and bond to end up a white elephant project after the elections, as many others before it.
The statement added that “when completed, the seaport will complement the economic activities of the other six major seaports in the country which will enable traders from the zone to import and receive their goods directly while enjoying a comparative advantage as well as promote and encourage the business spirit of the people of South -East”.
A statement signed by the President, Chief Timothy Okorocha and the Public Relations Officer, Mr Francis Ugwoke, the League challenged the Imo State Governor to provide answer on when the dredging of the project would be carried out, and give specific and general outline of the proposed project.
The League which is made up of maritime editors and publishers also wants to know if the project is already captured in the 2023 budget, in the light of government claim that the project is billed to be executed next year.
“We want to know when the project was approved and the contractor handling the project.”
The League equally demanded that the governor gives further clarification on the project in terms of when specifically President Buhari made the promise during his visit to the state.
“Did the President make this promise in a close-door meeting with the governor or during his address at a public function? The question is based on the fact that no national newspaper or television station which covered the President’s visit reported the news. Or was the promise made in a letter to the state governor?”
The statement also challenged the governor to come out and state the involvement of the Ministry of Transportation and other agencies involved in the project.
On the backdrop of information that the Orashi River was dredged in 2012, the League expressed concern about plant to again carry out another dredging, despite the obvious fact that the last reported dredging may not have achieved anything, afterwards.
The League further urged Governor Uzodinma to address its concerns as quickly as possible, even as it enjoined people of the South- East to be wary of such questionable promises and claims of promises by state governors as the 2023 election draws near.