The South East Governors’ Forum seems to have woken from its slumber. It has taken the bull by the horns as it no longer depends on the federal government developmental agenda for the zone. In the past few months, the forum has taken far reaching measures to change the monotonous rhythm of “marginalization” of the zone. Recently, the South East Consultative Committee on Health was inaugurated with the aim of transforming the zone into a medical tourist destination in Nigeria. Inaugurating the 12-member committee August 23, comprising commissioners of health of the five states of the zone, Cecilia Ezeilo, deputy governor, Enugu State said the body would harmonize health-related issues and activities in the zone. She said the committee would also create a multi-sectorial platform in improving health outcomes in the zone.
He said the forum would harness and mobilize abundant private resources to complement government’s budgetary allocations towards public health improvement. “This committee will serve as a medium for community level mobilization and information dissemination on guidelines for achieving improved health outcomes and social wellbeing”. In a communiqué arising from the meeting of the Governors Forum held at the Government House Enugu, Dave Umahi, Chairman of the forum and governor of Ebonyi State noted the calibre of health and other professionals in the committee were enough to achieve the purpose.
“The Forum received an interim report from the South-East Consultative Committee on Health, set up to facilitate the establishment of world class health facilities in each state of the South-East zone. “The Forum noted the calibre of health and other professionals in the Committee and commended them for the progress so far and urged them to work towards ensuring the transformation of the zone into a medical tourist destination in Nigeria”, he noted.
The South-East Governors Forum also resolved to construct a Ring-road covering a total area of 450 kilometers which would connect all the states of the zone. Umahi said the ring-road would promote economic development of the South-East states and make for ease of transportation system in the region.
Umahi said that the Forum took presentations for Gas Pipelines in the South-East and advised the Consultants to follow up on details of implementation especially as it related to the right of way. “The Forum commended presentation on Aba Independent Power Project by Prof.Bart Nnaji and asked him to liaise with the Secretariat for further implementation with the Presidency.“Received presentations on several issues, especially, from National Addressing System of Nigeria and the Bureau of Public Service Reforms, BPSR, on assessment of MDAs for effective performance,” he said. The Forum chairman said that a private business enterprise presented to the governors a Lottery Business proposal in the South-East states and that the Forum advised him to reach out to various states in the South-East in going about the proposal. The governors also directed the five South-East states chairmen of Traditional Rulers Council to attend the next meeting of the Forum for amicable resolution of the crisis among them”.
Umahi, requested that urgent steps be taken for the reactivation of the cargo section of the Airport. He said that the Forum at the meeting received presentation from the South-East Region Development Fund, SENDEF, a financial arm of SEREDEC and urged them to channel all development plans in the South-East region through the Secretariat of the Forum. The Forum appreciated the Federal Government for the intervention on the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, but however, drew its attention to the deplorable state of the runway, the runway lights and the tarmac and called on the Honourable Minister of State for Aviation to visit the Airport for an on-the-spot assessment and urgent intervention.
The Forum also requested that urgent steps be taken for there activation of the cargo section of the Airport.It received a presentation from the South-East Region Development Fund, SENDEF, a financial arm of SEREDEC and urged them to channel all development plans in the South East region through the Secretariat of the Forum. However, as people of the region have continued to appreciate the efforts of the governors, many are of the view that a lot needs to be done to checkmate the incessant killing of Igbo sons and daughters who are opposed to the federal government denigration of the region.
Raymond Ekezie, an indigene of Enugu State decried a situation where the army has continued to waste innocent lives in the name of Operation Python Dance. Last year, the soldiers invaded Nnamdi Kanu’s house in Abia State and killed a number of people. Since then the whereabouts of Kanu, the leader of IPOB is yet to be ascertained. The South-East Governors Forum should stop this menace”, Ekezie said. Emmanuel Boman Kabuk, General Officer Commanding, GOC, 82 Division, Nigeria Army recently announced that the Nigerian army would soon commence the ‘Operation Python Dance III’, also known as Exercise Egwu-Eke III, in South East-States formations and units under 82 Division, Nigerian Army.
“Exercise Egwu Eke III, is a training exercise for troops of 82Division of the Nigerian Army and during the training, if there are criminal activities like armed robbery, kidnapping and other criminal activities that distort peace and tranquility of the citizenry along the line, the Army will not close its eyes and watch those criminals activities to thrive”, he claimed. He said operation python dance was changed to Egwu Eke to align with the environment which is the South-East. “The pro Biafra activists and killer herdsmen are also Nigerians who are misguided. We should not allow misguided elements to disturb our peace. What we want is for law abiding citizens to live in peace. If you are not law abiding, the law will take its course. That is all we are saying”.
Many who spoke to our reporter have continued to argue that Pro-Biafran agitators do not constitute any danger to the zone and therefore should not be seen as criminals.