*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.