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Tension as Buhari set to visit Imo Thursday amid IPOB protest

President Muhammadu Buhari

Thursday’s sit-at-home order by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to protest President Muhammadu Buhari’s plan to visit Imo State is causing ripples.

The Director of State (DOS), IPOB, Chika Edozien, had in last Monday’s broadcast on Radio Biafra, declared that the President “is not welcome to Imo on Thursday, September 9, 2021.” He warned leaders and every Igbo citizen to stay away from any ceremony organised by Governor Hope Uzodimma to welcome Buhari.

In addition, he stated that there would be “total lockdown of Biafraland” tomorrow. The stay-away order during Buhari’s Imo visit, is threatening the chances of All Progressives Congress (APC) in the November 6 governorship election in Anambra State.

APC chieftain, who pleaded anonymity, expressed fear of a possible sit-at-home order during the party’s campaigns.

IMO Government, yesterday, sealed some new generation banks in the capital city for allegedly obeying the sit-at-home order by IPOB in the South East.

The development caused hundreds of bank customers to be stranded. It is noteworthy that IPOB had relaxed the order, which, it reasoned, would hurt the economy of the region. Instead of observing the order every Monday, the pro-Biafra group said the sit-at-home should be any day its detained leader, Nnamdi Kanu, would go to court.

Of the financial institutions on Bank Road, Owerri, The Guardian gathered that only one was allowed to operate. Officials of Owerri Capital Development Authority (OCDA) used ribbons to seal some of the affected banks as early as 7:00a.m.

With the development, there are indications that the state may be locked down by traders and transporters when President Muhammadu Buhari visits tomorrow.

Already, the face-off between the government and petroleum tanker drivers has pushed transport fares up to about 100 per cent.

Efforts to reach the General Manager of OCDA, Innocent Ikpamezie, to react on the development proved abortive, as he did not respond to multiple calls put through his phone.

BUT the Chief Press Secretary (CPS)/Media Adviser to the Governor, Oguwike Nwachuku, said the action has nothing to do with IPOB and its order.

He told reporters yesterday: “It is not true that the sealing had something to do with IPOB. I strongly believe that the banks may be in violation of their obligations to the government, since OCDA was involved.”

ALSO, a socio-political group, Imolites Collective (IC), has declared that President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to Imo State tomorrow is of great interest to Imo people. The group said President Buhari’s coming “would not only show that the President is interested in the development of Southeast geopolitical zone, but also reveal the level of work done in the areas of infrastructure, peace building and security of life and property by the state government.”

In a statement signed by its President and Secretary, Longinus Duru and Ernest Iroha respectively, which was made available to journalists, IC noted that after crisis and violence in the state, it was good to know that the President would be visiting.

The group explained that the President’s visit would help Nigerians to know far peace has returned to the state, stressing that the governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma, has been working quietly behind the scene to ensure the return of peace and progress to the state, especially the Imo heartland, Owerri.

While maintaining that Governor Uzodimma demonstrated political courage and responsibility towards the restoration of peace and security in the state, Imolites Collective declared: “The President’s visit would help Nigerians, especially NdImo to know how far the government has gone in improving dilapidated infrastructure, enhancing social development and boosting commerce and industry.

“Of particular interest is the construction of underground tunnel and surface drainage system along Dick Tiger junction, connecting ChukwumaNwoha and Relief market, which discharge point is at Otamiri River measuring 2.45 kilometre.

“We are happy to recall that upon his assumption of office, Governor Uzodimma saw the need to ameliorate the plight of Imolites through the award of the gigantic and signature project to curb the flood menace around Owerri metropolis.

“The underground tunnel project has really welcomed a sigh of relief to the residents around the area, espedially the direct beneficiaries including, MCC/Uratta, Imo Housing Estate, Trans-Egbu/Uratta Housing Estate, Aladimma/Egbu Road, Ikenegbu/Relief Market residents.”

Imolites Collective remarked that the underground tunnel system project has met the profound expectations of the good people of Imo State, both home and abroad, stressing that it is quite commendable.

President Buhari is billed to visit Imo State tomorrow, even as the governor disclosed that while in the state, the President would commission a number of projects completed by his administration in the past one and a half year.

It would be recalled that during the ceremonies marking his first year office on February 27, 2021, Governor Uzodimma, told stakeholders: “I welcome you most heartily to this special stakeholders meeting. I call this meeting special because it falls within the ambit of our one year in office anniversary, and even more because it is coming on the heels of disturbing security challenges and some bizarre happenings in the state.

“I know that many of us will be eager to take home, from me, a list of the achievements of our government in the last one year. I also know that we want to have clearer insights into the events in Orlu, in particular, as well as what exactly happened in Owerri on the fateful Sunday of February 21st, 2021. I assure you that on all scores, you will not be disappointed as I intend to update you on all the issues.”

The governor noted that “in spite of the challenges occasioned by the COVID-19 and the concomitant economic consequences; I can proudly tell you that your beloved Imo State is on course. Our shared prosperity agenda anchored on our 3R mantra of Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Recovery are on course.’

He stated that his administration’s “determination to make Imo State meet our shared dreams is also on course.” “Our resolve to entrench a culture of due process, transparency and accountability in the conduct of government business is yielding bountiful dividends.

“So also is our drive to improve on the deficit infrastructural base we inherited. In general terms, I can proudly tell you without any fear of contradiction that right now our dear state is about to go into cruise gear and in the coming months, we shall be on an auto cruise because things are indeed looking up in the state.

“My beloved Nd’Imo, even the blind can attest to the fact that in one year, we have made a difference in good governance. To begin with, in one year I have met with you, the stakeholders, four times, to give an account of our stewardship. By so doing we have provided the needed platform for your inputs and criticisms. This is because we acknowledge that by the grace of God power belongs to you; the good people of Imo State,” he surmised.

Governor Uzodimma expressed the belief that “the difference between what happened in the past and now is as clear as night and day,” adding that unlike in the past when people did not know any particular office, where they could meet with their governor, today Imo people come to Pentagon, otherwise known as the governor’s office, to meet with me as their governor day in day out”.

It was gathered that efforts by the state government to bring President Buhari to grace the Governor Uzodimma’s first anniversary celebration did not fall through due to the President’s tight schedules.

Governor Uzodimma mounted the saddle as Imo State governor on January 15, 2020, after the Supreme Court ruled on the governorship election appeal he filed challenging the return of Hon. Emeka Ihedioha as winner of the March 9, 2019 governorship poll in the state.

Shortly after the apex court ruling, the state was thrown into various social and political upheavals, culminating in the exchanges between the incumbent and former governor, Rochas Okorocha, who is also representing Imo West Senatorial District in the Senate.

MEANWHILE, no fewer than 120 youths in Imo have benefited from a training programme on social media marketing, web development, video and photo editing and other aspects of Information Communication Technology (ICT).

The beneficiaries, according to the programme organiser, Onugotu Obowo Foundation (OOF), were drawn from the 22 autonomous communities in Obowo Local Council of the state.

Speaking to newsmen at the opening of the five-day programme at the local council headquarters, Otoko, yesterday, OOF President, Dr. Goddy Nneji, said the programme was aimed at reducing the rate of unemployment among youths of the area due to lack of skills.

He said the two-batch training of 60 candidates per batch would also help to equip the participants with requisite ICT knowledge that would enable them earn a living in “digital endeavours.”

Noting that the participants were expected to put in good use the skills they acquired and to transfer the knowledge to others, he added: “What informed this training is because we discovered that most of our youths are unemployed because they lack skills. So we want to give them some ICT skills that would enable them earn a living.”

Spokesman of the non-governmental organisation, Chief Cosmos Iroh, said: “This is our third leadership and manpower development programme for our youths.”

 

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