President Muhammadu Buhari has assured South East governors and the Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu that all ongoing federal projects in the region will be funded.
The President who gave the assurance during a meeting with governors in the region and the Deputy Senate President on Wednesday at State House, Abuja, said the seven-month delay in passing this year’s budget will not serve as an excuse.
President Buhari pledged that the Federal Government would sustain the support to the South-East in terms of infrastructure.
‘‘I assure you that we are doing our best and will not default on the agreements signed on ongoing projects,’’ the President told the delegation, led by Ekweremadu.
The President explained that part of the noticeable problems in the delay in the execution of the capital projects was caused by the budget hold-up.
His words: ‘‘When you sign, and you don’t pay, they (contractors) can legally jerk up their costs. This is part of the problem.
‘‘The infrastructure budget is a deficit budget. The borrowing plan was only approved three weeks ago and all ministers and departments of government have been instructed to forge ahead. We must not find excuses for delaying the projects.
‘‘Developing infrastructure is the best thing we can do. When the roads are okay, the rails are established and there is power, Nigerians will flourish in their businesses.’’
On the undulating surface of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, Buhari assured the governors and Ekweremadu that it would be addressed in the new budget.
The President also spoke of government’s serious interest in the new Port-Harcourt-Maiduguri standard gauge railway which traverses several states, including those in the South East.
President Buhari was accompanied to the meeting by the Secretary to the Government, Boss Mustapha and some cabinet ministers, including that of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola.
On behalf of the Governors, Dave Umahi, the governor of Ebonyi, said they came specifically to thank the President for the award of the contract for the major component of the second Niger Bridge at the cost of N206 billion.
His words: ‘‘The project is the dream of our people and it has become a dream come true. Our people said we must come and thank you. Your Excellency, Mr President we are grateful Sir,’’ he said.
While enumerating some challenges confronting the Governors to the President, the Ebonyi governor said: ‘‘out of mutual respect, we have come to you as a caring leader to listen to us.’’
Other governors on the delegation were Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State and the Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Dr Nkem Okeke.