Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Enugu State Chapter, Commends the Nigerian Senate
Much as the dust raised by the exclusion of the South East of Nigeria from the proposed multi-billion dollar loan for the rolling rail project in the country is yet to settle, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Enugu State Chapter commends the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for the maturity, statesmanship and patriotism displayed in handling the $5.8 billion loan request from the China Exim Bank. It will be recalled that the Federal Government had requested the sum for the construction of Standard Gauge lines from Lagos-Kano, Kano-Kaduna, Lagos-Ibadan, and Lagos-Calabar, excluding the southeast corridor.
Leader of the South East senate caucus Sen. Enyinnaya Abaribe (Abia South) and other members of the South-East Caucus, had in a motiontagged, “Outright Omission of Eastern Corridor Rail Line in the request for approval of Federal Government External Borrowing (Rolling Plan)” drawn the attention of the senate to the out-right omission of the South East corridor in the project. Abaribe queried with serious concern why the government wanted to take such a huge loan that would benefit all other regions apart from the South East. Contributing to the motion, Sen. Dr. Ike Ekweremadu, CFR remarked that the senate as the conscience of the nation should, at all times, rise against injustice done to any part of the country. He contended that since all sections of the country will, in future, repay the loan, equity and justice demand that all the geo-political zones should benefit from it.
We commend the unity of purpose of the Senate in this matter and especially the statesmanship shown by the Senate President, Dr. Olusola Saraki who upheld that there was no reason why the South East should be excluded from the rail project for which the loan was sought. Ohanaeze Ndigbo is elated by the resolution of the Senate that the loan should not be considered except all the regions were carried along in the utilization of the loan. Saraki assured the protesting lawmakers that the leadership of the Senate had already taken a position on the non-inclusion of some parts of the country in the project.
We are proud of the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, who had described the borrowing plan as the height of injustice; insisting that the exclusion of the South East is in clear breach of the Federal Character Principle as captured in Section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution, which provides that the conduct of the affairs of the Federal Government shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity and also to command national loyalty. Nwodo called on the lawmakers, leaders and civil society from the South East to mobilize their colleagues and compatriots who believe in the unity and equitable development of the country to vote against this injustice.
The Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Enugu State chapter urges the Senate not to be distracted in its commitment for the unity of the country. We join in the loud rejection of suggestions by the likes of Sen. Gbenga Ashafa (Lagos East) that the loan be approved irrespective of it’s obvious default.. Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Enugu State Chapter believes in the philosophy of handshakes across the Niger and Benue and hopes that the Ashafas shall soon come out of their cocoons to embrace the moving train.
By the reason of this landmark resolution by the senate, Ohanaeze Ndigbo expresses stronger confidence in the National Assembly. We are now confident that the right people in leadership positions can save the country from it’s odious past. We are confident that the serial injustice meted to the Igbo over the decades has gained the empathy and consciousness of men of conscience and goodwill. We are confident that the more the efforts to marginalize the Igbo or indeed any section of the people, the more this crop of senators will rise in one voice against injustice; and the better for the Nigeria of Ohanaeze dream. We must always be guided that the Nigeria we seek is where justice reigns; a truly restructured Nigeria where the abundant mineral resources will be fully unleashed and harnessed for the growth and prosperity of all; and where no group is sidelined in the course of nation-building.
The 8th senate has more than others before it demonstrated courage, good judgment, bipartisanship and statesmanship in it’s legislative process. It is indeed for the purpose of sober second thought, wise counsel and broad inclusive legislations that the senate was established in the ancient Roman Empire. We therefore salute the courage, camaraderie and magnanimity of the senators by rising to the occasion.
Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia
President, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Enugu State Chapter