Nonsochukwu Uwa, Owerri
The Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Yemi Osinbajo, has described the flag-off of the dredging of Oguta/Orashi river development project, as a game changer for the economic development of Imo State, Nigeria and the African continent.
Osinbajo stated this at the official flag off of the dredging of the river Oguta/Orashi/Degema to the Atlantic ocean which took place at Oguta Council Area in the state, on Thursday.
According to the Vice President: “This project is vital for collaboration between the state government and the Nigeria Navy and consortium of technical partners initiated and approved under the stewardship president Muhammadu Buhari, and Governor Hope Uzodimma.
“Tracing the history, he said as far back as 1914, the British, understanding the strategic importance connecting the hinterland to the coast utilised this route for smooth export of agricultural produce such as palm oil from Oguta to its neighboring states.
“The route has always been a vital component for increase of trade and economic prosperity. Today marks an important milestone in the economic development of Imo; the Southeast and Nigeria at large and could not have come at a better time than now.
“The project will promote trade and spur growth in multiple sectors including shipping and manufacturing agriculture and also offer opportunities for the people. The President only a few days ago granted Hope Uzodimma’s request to declare Oguta, Ohaji/Egbema as oil and gas free zone.”
Adding his voice, the Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, said: “It is a joyous day for Imo people. This flag-off is a dream come true. It is akin to a baby after a long time of expectation. The most expected glorious day has come. We thank the President for many things he has done for the Imo people.
“We thank him for the support to recover Imo State from the hands of bandits. We thank the chief of naval staff, for rescuing us from the hands of criminals…
“We are going to act this through Public private Partnership, PPP. I thank all of us for the various roles you played in this programme. Through the mercy of God, this project has seen the light of day.
“This project is a harbinger of several other multifaceted projects encapsulated in the socioeconomic development of Imo with the capacity to equip the South-East with a robust and self-sufficient economy.
“We shall establish an industrial cluster in the area to aid economic activities. Imo and the private sector will fund the project in synergy with the Nigerian Navy,’’
Earlier in his remark, the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor thanked President Buhari for enhancing the capacity of the Nigerian Navy and the military at large.
“Today what we are witnessing is freedom for our people, the economic stability of our people. This will be a springboard to what the armed for will be contributing to the growth of the economic prosperity of our people.”
Also, the Chief of Naval Force, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, said: “This will boost the economy of Imo State, I want to assure you of the support Navy, to improve the security for sustainable economic development, and thank Uzodimma, for partnering with the Navy for the success of this project. I wish the navy safe surveillance.
In his remark, the President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, described the event as history making.
“Indeed all of us are making history. Our names will appear in gold. last week our Federal Medical Center was made a teaching hospital. We have been pursuing this for a long time.
“Go and tell Buhari that we are happy. The Second Niger Bridge is completed among other things. Help us tell Buhari that he is one of us. Before we go, tell Mr President, that whatever he will do to make this project achieved will be appreciated.
“Igbo people are everywhere and they are happy. They have been calling me on this project and we are happy. I am also telling Mr. President, that Nnamdi Kanu must be released before he leaves office.”
Dignitaries who attended the events include, Oni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Oguwunsi; Minister for Trade and Investment, Alhaji Muazu Sambo; former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Maurice Iwu; among others.