Former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Professor Chukwuma Soludo has asked the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency build the 2nd Niger Bridge as a critical area to developing the South-east, South-south Economic bloc to complement Lagos.
Soludo said this in Asaba, during the Delta Silver Jubilee Economic Summit.
In a keynote address, he enumerated how he envisions Delta in the coming 25 years. His words: “I have gone on so many of such summits, and we hope this one I’d going to be different.
“What do we want to see in Delta in the next 25 years? Nigeria is under excruciating pains but I see hope.
“I can see Delta becoming a corridor for South-east, South-south economic giant, an alternative to Lagos. But if that’s too far fetched, Delta can become an international state rooted in agriculture, trade, and with residual natural resources. I envisage what I describe as the Greater Anioma-Onitsha mega city project. With the River Niger bridge, potentially largest seaport in Africa. The Federal Government must as a matter of urgency, build the 2nd Niger Bridge.
“We have to decongest Lagos to build this. I will advise that this seaport be modelled after the Philippines seaport.
Speaking further, he said : “I actually thank God that the oil price collapsed. Oil has been a curse in Nigeria, and every disappointment is a blessing. Nigeria is a country at war with itself. When you go to the streets and see soldiers, you don’t need anyone to tell you that Nigeria is at war with itself.
“You cannot have economic order where the security of lives and property cannot be guaranteed. There is extreme inequality and poverty. Skill shortages, There should be a post oil economy. Its my hypothesis that the current conundrum is self inflicted.
He then asked the Minister of Finance to fix the exchange rate distortions or else the exchange rate will continue to overshoot and the economy will continue to hemorrhage.
“An agenda for the government is to defeat the insecurity or negotiate peace. You must have a political reform and an economic reform. It’s the only way.
He also called on the Federal Government to allow each region and state take control of its resources and pay taxes to the Federal Government.
The professor also stated: “Despite the uncertainty in the country, Delta state can be an island of prosperity. The location of Delta is at an advantage. You are within minutes to the business states of Onitsha, Nnewi, Aba and so on. Its also a coastal city sharing boundaries with Bayelsa, Rivers and others”, he said.
Also speaking at the Summit, Vice President, Professor Yomi Osinbajo blamed ineffective government on the culture of the country to chose personnel based on tribal affiliation, religious affinities and seldom due to merit. He canvassed for use of merit over these factors if governments are serious about quality delivery in projects execution,
Meanwhile, Commissioner for Information, Mr Patrick Ukah, has said that with the silver jubilee, Governor Okowa has placed the state in an irreversible path of progress as the state is now opened to the world.
Mr Ukah made the disclosure earlier today during an inter-denominational thanksgiving service to conclude programmes for the silver jubilee celebration of the state. The thanksgiving service took place at St. Philip’s Anglican Church, Asaba.
According to Mr Ukah, the 25 years anniversary celebration has opened the state to the world, revealing that from the economic summit alone, the state got commitments towards economic progress and the fact that the development programmes will spread through out the state will make it a business haven for all.
“From the children’s day party organized by the First Lady, Dame Edith Okowa, which did not only put the children in the mood of celebration but their parents, the cultural carnival was an eye-opener that the state has a money-spinning machine in the tourism sector that have not tapped in any way, and of course, the economic summit was the success story of Delta succeeding without revenue from oil”, he said.
“Some states are begging to have one sea port, but Delta State is blessed with four and with an international airport, people can come in from any part of the world not only for business but for tourism.”
He specifically thanked Governor Okowa for attracting such personalities like the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo, and financial egg-heads of the nation, adding that the financial situation of the country did not deter the state from celebrating its oneness 25 years after, rather, the economic situation opened our eyes to the fact that we have not fully harnessed our potentials as a state.