North East Govs To Establish Commercial Airline, Boost Development

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*lament  FG’s dilapidated roads in North East

By; SADIQ ABUBAKAR, Maiduguri

Borno State Governor, Prof. Umaru Zulum, has said  that plans have been  concluded by the North-East States Governors  to establish a commercial airline for the  zone.

The  Chairman of the North-East Governors’ Forum, who is also the Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum made this known  on Friday in his welcome address  at the seventh North East Governors Forum (NEGF) meeting held in Gombe town.

According to  the governor, the establishment of the  regional  commercial airline is  to help expand  business frontiers of the North-East region  after years of security challenges  that have truncated  rapid growth and development  in the past 13 years.

“Our decision to float a commercial airline, known as the North-East Regional Air Shuttle Limited, for the region is also coming to fruition as soon as a number of financial and technical requirements are met,” Zulum said.

The governor also decried the state of disrepair of  Trunk ‘A’  roads across the region , especially, the Federal Government roads in the North-East states.

Zulum further  lamented  the effects  of Boko Haram  insurgency which has beclouded  the region’s prospects, while calling on  the National Assembly to adjust  its annual  budgetary allocations to the  zone to fast track  reconstruction and rebuilding processes of destroyed states of the North East.

He said, “At this juncture, I need to however, make a passionate appeal to the Federal Government and the National Assembly to incorporate into the 2023 budget of the Federal Government, the reconstruction and rehabilitation of many federal roads in the North-East zone, which have been in deplorable condition for years.

“Although the level of insecurity in the region then was a tenable reason for delaying the reconstruction of the roads, the security situation now has improved tremendously. 

“As it is now, the North-East has the least Federal budgetary allocation for road constructions and it is fair and reasonable for the Federal Government to inject the needed funds for the construction and reconstruction of federal roads within the region. 

“So on behalf of my colleagues, I am calling on the National Assembly, particularly the Senators and Representatives from the North-East zone to, as a matter of urgent priority, include the repairs and construction of a network of Federal roads within the zone,” Zulum said.

The forum noted the link between mining activities and insecurity, especially the abuse of the mining leases.  

It therefore resolved to ensure strict compliance with the provisions of the Land Use Act.

The forum  also lamented  the power distribution of five per cent, adding that the Federal Government should expedite action towards harnessing the potentials of the Mambila Power Project.

“The forum again, expressed concerns over  the parlous state of power supply in the North-East region, which at present receives less than five per cent of national allocation of grid energy while accounting for 14 per cent of the population and 30 per cent of landmass. 

“While noting the direct correlation between energy security and high level of poverty and our GDP status, it called on the Federal Government to introduce innovative strategies by investing in the production of comparatively cheaper hydropower and renewable energy.

“Related to this, the Federal Government is called upon to accelerate the execution of the Mambila hydroelectricity project,” the communique added.

While  expressing great concern on the devastating effects of flood in the region, the Forum lauded the Federal Government for establishing a tertiary institution specialised in training medical personnel, saying it would solve the current shortfall in human resources.

The North-East Governors’ Forum said, “The Forum thanked the Federal Government for establishing the University of Health Sciences in Azare to address the huge manpower deficit in the health sector and pledged to support the University to deliver on its mandate.

“The forum expressed grave concerns about the devastating effect of flooding which is destroying homes and livelihood including road infrastructures. The Forum therefore calls on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency direct its relevant agencies to immediately deploy all necessary interventions to ameliorate the situation in the affected areas.”

The  Gombe State Governor, Alhaji Muhammad Yahaya who hosted the other state governors for the meeting, said that the essence of the meeting which started  about two years ago, was purposely,  “to take stock  of our activities  and reflect on successes we have achieved  since the creation of the forum for a common front irrespective of cultural and ethnic difference to pursue a common vision towards improving lives of citizens of the sub-region.”

Governor Yahaya however, observed   that the challenges that led to the creation of the  NEG Forum are still threatening  the region, while suggesting  proper and appropriate actions to improve   situations such as Boko Haram security threats, climate change disasters, etc.

The forum also  lauded the efforts and concerns of  President Muhammadu Buhari  in curbing  security challenges in the region, while  also commending  the gallantry and efforts of the Nigerian military and  support of  other security agencies in the region, including the CJTF,  vigilante and hunters, among others.

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