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Pay more attention to unsettling security situation, nation’s unity, Uzodinma tells Media

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Gov. Hope Uzodinma of Imo has urged the media to pay more attention to issues like the depletion of the country’s crude oil output and the unsettling security situation in the country.

The governor made the call while fielding questions from State House correspondents after a closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday.

Uzodinma was reacting to a question about the choice of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to go for Muslim – Muslim ticket for the 2023 presidential election.

He said the issues of Nigeria’s unity, increasing cases of oil theft and security challenges should be of more concern to Nigerians rather than granting media space to champions of religious dichotomy and ethnic jingoism.

“I think that even the media – I want to use this opportunity to invite you people to prioritize our areas of interest.

“First, the mood of the country today is not about who the candidates are.

“The mood of the country is that two or three years ago, we were producing 2.1 million barrels of crude oil every day.

“For over 12 years, that has been our main source of foreign exchange.”

He decried that because of the activities of those who are anti-national interest, Nigeria had lost over a million barrels and barely managing to produce one million.

“I think we should arise in unison to condemn the activities of crude oil theft by anti-Nigerian interest groups and bring back the economy of the country, because you have to have a country first before you have a president.

“Look at the quantum of banditry going on in Nigeria today, to the extent that bandits are courageously coming into the capital city.

“We should rise in unison and condemned these activities,” he said.

Uzodinma stressed that the media should concentrate more on things that would unite the diverse ethno-religious groups in the country.

He said: “We should make emphasis on things that will unite the country and by the grace of God abandon those things that are capable of dismembering the country.

“Our national interest is important. Our national unity is important. Our ability to live together as brothers and sisters is also important.

“The primary purpose of government is for the security of lives and property and the welfare of our citizens. To what extent have we supported federal government in achieving this primary purpose?

“Those are things that should occupy our minds now. But if you throw Nigeria into a situation where religious dichotomy, ethnic jingoism will be at the front burner, it means you are working against Nigeria.

“So, let us allow political parties who have chosen their candidates, no matter the religion where they come from, to go out and do their campaign.”

According to him, it is left for the electorate to reject the ticket by not voting for them or accept the ticket by voting for them.

“But, if we continue to make these things headlines, you are heating up our polity unnecessarily.

“I want to beg you in the name of God, let us save our country,” he said

Speaking to the issue of oil theft, the governor charged the federal government to identify the brains behind the menace in the country and bring them to justice

The governor said “the act is a cancer which must be dealt with to steady the economy.”

He warned against treating perpetrators as sacred cows, saying that anyone involved in the practice must be brought to book irrespective of the status in the society.

“Crude oil theft is like cancer to our economy and a thief is a thief, no matter his class.

“So, the process that will address the issue of crude oil theft will identify those behind it, irrespective of their class and for me, I don’t see any profile that will make a criminal not to be a criminal.

“All I will pray is the repentant mind to believe in the country and save the country the agony of this criminality.

“So, it is something that is very serious, as a matter of fact, it is something that government must take very seriously.

“Nobody should be a sacred cow; whether your profile is high, whether you’re middle-class profile or low profile, you’re considered a thief to national treasury.

“Commensurate punishment should be mated on such an individual, once identified,” he added.

Reacting to a recent World Bank outlook on Nigeria’s economic future, which projected that the country faces an existential threat,” he said:

“Even 25 years ago, before 1999, World Bank has always said Nigeria will break into pieces and today Nigeria has not been broken into a half piece.

“This country is loved by God and our faith in God has been keeping this country.

“We have had friendly enemies as partners, both internationally and nationally, but yet Nigeria continues to exist.

“There is nowhere in the world you will go and the gas stations you will see are not Shell, ExxonMobil, Texaco (Overseas), all the major oil producing companies.

“It is only in Nigeria that you will hear languages like independent market, Okafor & Sons Filling Station and all that. What is the World Bank saying about that?

“It is only in Nigeria you talk about subsidy. What is World Bank saying about that?

“It is only in Nigeria you hear jargons like Turn-Around-Maintenance, where else in the world do you have such language?’’

On his meeting with the president, Uzodinma said he sought his s approval for the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, to be converted to Federal University of Technology Teaching Hospital and for Alvan Ikoku College of Education to become Federal University of Education, Owerri.

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Ismaila Chafe

NEWSVERGE, published by The Verge Communications is an online community of international news portal and social advocates dedicated to bringing you commentaries, features, news reports from a Nigerian-African perspective. A unique organization, founded in the spirit of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, comprising of ordinary people with an overriding commitment to seeking the truth and publishing it without fear or favour. The Verge Communications is fully registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a corporate organization.

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