21 January 2013

Nigeria: FG to Collaborate With South East Governors to Tackle Erosion - Maku

The Federal Government said on Monday that it would collaborate with the South East governors to find a lasting solution to the erosion menace in the area.

The Minister of Information, Mr Labaran Maku, made the promise in Owerri during a news conference organised by the Imo State Government as part of the good governance tour of the state.

He explained that erosion was a major challenge in most parts of the area, adding that the Federal Government had already embarked on a lot of erosion projects in the affected states.

Maku, however, stressed the need for the state governments to ensure they maintained their environment for sustainability.

"A lot of erosion projects are ongoing in the states but the environment must be maintained. The Federal Government would work together with the state governments to handle the erosions through the ecological fund," he said.

The minister explained that the aim of the tour was to ascertain the level of work done by the state government, the challenges encountered and to report same to Nigerians.

He urged state governors to set aside partisan politics, saying that democracy was all about the welfare of the citizens through rendering democracy dividends.

He expressed worry at the kind of democracy practised in the country, which had produced a lot of politicians without good leadership qualities.

"In spite of differences in party politics, we all must work together for the progress of this nation.

"This country has gone through a lot of challenges; we therefore cannot allow this political dispensation to be rubbished. We must focus on delivery of good governance to the people," he said.

Maku stressed the need for the governors to partner with the media, pointing out that most of the projects by the Federal Government in the various states were not known to the people.

He listed some of the federal projects to include the dualisation of Owerri-Port Harcourt express road, and the NDDC projects in the federal universities and polytechnics in the state.

He noted that the 'Citizens' Forum' to be held on Tuesday in the state would provide a forum for the governor and the people to interact, to enable the people to know some of the projects embarked upon in the state.

"There is a need for the leaders to hear from the people. The spring of wisdom flows from the people. People should be allowed to discuss their problems; speak up their minds through the citizens' forum.

"Citizens must know that governance is not an easy task. Leadership is a difficult job, so if leaders must lead well, they need to hear from their people," he said.

He called on the media to give full expression to the tour without any form of bias, promising that his team would also be transparent and objective in analysing the state government's projects.

Responding, Gov. Rochas Okorocha expressed gratitude to the Federal Government for instituting the tour through the office of the Federal Ministry of Information, regretting that democracy has produced more politicians than leaders.

He noted that Nigeria had come to a time when people were elected not based on party but on what the leaders could deliver.

Okorocha called on the Federal Government to formulate a programme in which governors that performed very well should be given credit rather than placing all the governors in the same pedestal.

"Imo receives N3.7 billion compared to our counterparts in the oil-producing areas and we have been able to raise numerous structures. We expect the Federal Government to encourage states that are doing well by beefing up their allocations," he said.

The governor described the tour as an opportunity for the state to showcase its projects, saying that two days might not be enough for the minister to inspect the projects by his government in the last 18 months.

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