With two flag stops in Enugu and Onitsha today, our dear President Muhammadu Buhari will be making a triumphal visit to Igboland, to the South East, in particular. And a large crowd will be on hand to herald his arrival.
But what is the purpose of the President’s visit? Why is President Muhammadu Buhari visiting the South East at this point in time?
They told us that President Buhari’s visit to the South East is to solicit our votes in the forthcoming Presidential election. The man will be asking us to vote for him, to support his reelection campaign.
He will tell us that once reelected, he will complete the Second Niger Bridge, which is very dear to us, but which we know has remained a recurring decimal for every administration in every election season. He will further tell us that work is now ongoing on the Enugu-Onitsha Express Way. We will hail him.
But our dear President Buhari will forget to tell us that as soon as elections were overwork will stop on these two projects. He will not tell us why the Ninth Mile Corner-Markudi Road has not been dualized like many other roads up north. He will not tell us why nothing is happening on the Enugu-Port Harcourt-Markudi rail line, while the Lagos-Kano-Maiduguri, Lagos-Abeokuta and Abuja-Kaduna rail lines have since been running on standard gauge.
Our President will, however, tell us that he is in the South East to also commission the Zik’s Mausoleum at Onitsha, a project that has been dragging on since 1995.
But when we ask him of what benefit will the Mausoleum be to an ordinary South Easterner. In other words, what has the project got to do with the very bad roads in the South East, the virtual nonexistent of federal government establishments in the South East that could have given job opportunities to many youths in the area, he will begin to quibble and will offer no explanation.
Our President will tell us that he did not hate the people of the South East, as some people had alleged. He will tell us that he was so magnanimous as to have appointed five ministers from the South East, even though we did not vote for him in the last election.
But he will not tell us that it is our constitutional right to have those ministers appointed in the first place, that he did us no favour because the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has made it mandatory for at least one minister to be appointed from each of the states of the federation.
Our President will also not tell us that through his actions and inactions, he had succeeded in messing up these ministers by not giving them the necessary backing or wherewithal to deal with the onerous assignments given to them.
Take the case of Dr Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Productivity. He has been made very unpopular due to the nature of his job. Dr Ngige had since been flexing muscles with the organized labour over the N30,000 minimum wage as well as with teachers in Nigerian universities. Some people had thought that Chris Ngige was the cog in their wheels of progress, not knowing that there were some people somewhere pulling the strings.
Look at Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, Minister of Science and Technology, a first-class brain. What the Ministry of Science and Technology under his watch could showcase in its three and half years of hard labour, was the production of pencils! It is not that Dr Ogbonnaya Onu was not mentally and intellectually equipped to get to the moon, only that the man was handicapped. He was not given the necessary support.
This is equally true of all the Federal Government owned research institutes in the South East – the Project Development Institute (PRODA), Enugu, and the Scientific Equipment Development Institute (SEDI), also in Enugu, which are both being starved of funds.
The other day, I met with a fellow who told me that he works with the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) here in Enugu. When challenged on why FERMA had left all the roads in the South East dilapidated, he stated that it was not their making, that the federal government had refused to release funds to them.
Look at Geoffrey Onyeama, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Okechukwu Enalema, Minister of Trade Investment, what has any South Easterner benefitted from these two gentlemen? Nothing. It is not that they were not willing to help, only that they were incapacitated.
Look at the one and only Owelle Rochas Okorocha. See how the man has been messed up. The man who brought APC to the South East and popularized(?) the party in the zone. When Okorocha wanted to reap the reward of his labours, even if he had wanted all his family members in government, they decided to render him impotent.
Sorry, I have been digressing for too long. Somebody had just asked me what he should tell President Buhari who did not consider anybody from the South East qualified to be part of his security council, or to be given any job in the NNPC, but who now wants the entire South East to vote for him?
I told him I do not know.