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Thursday, 26 November 2015

By Emmanuel Onwubiko

The South East geopolitical zone made up of about five States namely Imo, Enugu, Anambra, Ebonyi and Abia States is the heartland of the Igbo speaking nationality. This zone can boast of producing some of the finest intellectuals and top flight technocrats spread all over the world who are vastly respected in their diverse fields of calling.
The zone produces arguably the highest percentage of undergraduate university applicants which goes to show the elevated scale in which learning and intellectualism has reacted among the people of these vast geopolitical area.
But one thing the South East geopolitical area lacks is the needed and necessary federal presence and the strategic infrastructure that would enable the people to harness their natural and human resources to achieve collective economic growth and advancement of the area.
Any wonder then that the South East of Nigeria is boiling with civil unrest by concerned youth demanding fundamental redress of these systemic imbalances in the body politics?  Youth under the aegis of the Indigenous People of Biafra  (IPOB) have protested on the streets of major South East states and even as far as Abuja; Port Harcourt in Rivers State and Asaba in Delta State including parts of Warri to demand the release of Mr Nnamdi Kanu the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra and the Director of the Europe Based Radio Biafra who has been under detention with the Department of State Service even against two express orders of the competent court of law granting him bail. Nnamdi Kanu and his supporters are also unhappy with how the Nigerian State has marginalised the South East of Nigeria in the redistribution of national wealth. 
Last week, I embarked on a two day scientific study of the current state of infrastructure in the South East with visits to Enugu, Onitsha, Okigwe and Aba with whistle stops at Owerri and Umuahia and without mincing words I can state categorically that South Eastern Nigeria suffers from monumental deficit of infrastructure far worse than what obtains in the other geopolitical zones which I have had the privileged to have lived and worked for years.
Apart from poor road infrastructure affecting virtually the entire federal states and local government owned and maintained roads, there is the more serious problem of erosion which poses greater environmental threats to several communities including the home town of Nigeria’s second Republic vice President DR. Alex Ekwueme (Oko, Orumba North Local government in old Aguata, Anambra State).
Deadly gullies of huge proportions have enveloped other communities such as Uturu and Isukwuato all in Abia State. The question on the lips of most people interviewed is why the infrastructure in the South East have been allowed to deteriorate to this sorry state and people are asking whether the South East has political leadership that is charismatic, patriotic, selfless, nationalistic and corruption-free that can speak the mind of the South East and attract equitable federal development to the zone.
Interacting with people in the rural communities visited last week, came out with the impression that the people of the South East are totally disappointed with the political leaders from the zone who have consistently betrayed the collective aspirations of the people for their selfish pecuniary goals.
Not long ago the Vice president Professor Yemi Osinbajo visited parts of South East of Nigeria and lamented the poor state of infrastructures even as he promised that the Nigerian State would redress these imbalances but shortly after this pontification and shedding of crocodile tears by the Vice president this same Government has passed on contradictory directives on the implementation and completion of the second River Niger Bridge.  There's a wide ranging fear that the 2019 completion period for that very strategic project may not be met and indeed critical minded observers have asked questions regarding the propriety of building the second Niger Bridge at the prohibitive high cost and to thereafter tax the road users to pay levies for using the Bridge in what is seen as the first in Nigeria whereby citizens are extremely taxed to build public infrastructures.  This marginalisation must stop.
* Emmanuel Onwubiko, Head, HUMAN Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria blogs     

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