President Bola Tinubu says the Federal Government is determined to utilise its available resources to establish peace in the South-East geopolitical zone of the country.
Tinubu said this on Friday during the unveiling of Peace in South-East Project (PISE-P) and the Thanksgiving Service/Homecoming ceremony organised in honour of the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chief Benjamin Kalu.
The well-attended event took place at the Sports Arena of Bende Local Government Area.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that PISE-P is a five-year programme, initiated by the deputy speaker to tackle the intricate socio-economic challenges and security threats prevalent in the South-East.
The president, represented by the Vice President, Sen. Kashim Shettima, described the zone as “an industrial hub, which plays a vital role in boosting the nation’s economic development”.
He expressed the concern of the Federal Government over the extensive economic devastation inflicted on the region by non-state actors.
Tinubu said that the Federal Government would not allow any sinister operations by economic saboteurs, “who masquerade as advocates of Ndigbo, to continue in the region.
“We know that the South-East has weathered too many storms but the current economic stagnation has shaken the foundation of the region.
“We are not going to sit back and watch the fire go beyond what we can handle.
“We are here to extinguish the fire permanently,” Tinubu said.
He expressed the willingness of the Federal Government to work with the citizenry and support initiatives, such as PISE-P, to enhance its efforts in restoring peace and the vibrant economic life in the region.
According to him, the decision is informed by the need to ensure that the Federal Government’s development agenda is achieved in the region and nation at large.
“We are brothers and sisters, striving for a nation that serves us all and together we must collaborate as a team to overcome the threats to our shared humanity and unity,” he said.
Tinubu commended the deputy speaker for taking a stand for lasting peace in the South-East by evolving PISE-P.
The Senate President, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, said that insecurity poses significant deterrent to potential investors “because they prioritise stability and security when considering locations for their investments”.
Akpabio, represented by his deputy, Sen. Barau Jibrin, said that creating an atmosphere capable of attracting and retaining investors required collective efforts from stakeholders.
“May I advise that it is essential for everyone to set aside social and political differences and work together towards a common goal of harmony in the region,” he said.
Akpabio also said that the attainment of the position of deputy speaker by Kalu had set a progressive trajectory for his political career, which would foster unity, progress and development within the region.
Also, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Tajudeen Abbas, said that he was confident that PISE-P had the capacity to foster peace, stability and sustainable development in the region.
Abbas urged political leaders from the region to engage the Federal Government in addressing the legitimate grievances of their people.
He said: “When peace and order is restored, we can proceed to creating economic opportunities for the youths.
“At the National Assembly, we will ensure that funding is provided for infrastructure development, support for local businesses and creation of job opportunities.”
In a remark, Gov. Hope Uzodimma of Imo described PISE-P as a welcome development, which would enhance the efforts made to ensure that peace and security were restored in the region.
Uzodimma, who is also the Chairman of the South-East Governor’s Forum, said that “anything that would bring peace to the South-East is dear to our hearts”.
The Chairman of the ceremony and Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, described Kalu as an illustrious son of Igboland, who had distinguished himself in society.
Achebe said that the event had given the region an opportunity to celebrate his achievements and contributions to nation building.
He said that peace and reconciliation remain the basis for development and urged the citizenry to support the efforts made towards restoring peace in the region.
In a brief remark, the President-General of Ohaneze Ndigbo Worldwide, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, said that the region was already engaging the Federal Government on what ought to be done to restore enduring peace in the area.
Responding, Kalu expressed gratitude for the massive support which PISE-P had received, adding that it was an indication that the project would be a success.
He said that the contributions made by stakeholders towards achieving peace in the region and nation would be rewarded by posterity.
A major highlight of the event was the conferment of the chieftaincy title of “Omeziri Igbo” (the rebuilder of Igboland) on Tinubu by the Bende Council of Traditional Rulers.
The council also conferred different chieftaincy titles on Shettima, Akpabio and Abbas.
The occasion was attended by Gov. Alex Otti of Abia, the APC National Chairman, Alhaji Umar Ganduje, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, National and State Assembly lawmakers, among other dignitaries. (NAN)