North-east governors lament poor state of FG’s infrastructure in region

The North East Governors Forum (NEGF) has pleaded with the federal government to address some critical issues affecting the northeast region.

The forum  specifically lamented the ‘seeming neglect’ of the region in the allocation of projects by the federal government, just as it accused the Transition Company of Nigeria (TCN) of being nonchalant towards the blackout that engulfed the region in the last one month.

It further regretted the region’s neglect in the PMS to Compressed Gas transition of the federal government.

These were the high points of a communique signed by the NEGF chair and governor of Borno state, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum, after its 10th meeting in Bauchi, Bauchi state.

Zulum said: “The Forum reiterates its concern over the seeming neglect of the North-east in the allocation of Federal Government Capital Projects. It noted with dismay that despite its cry for attention on the state of infrastructure in the region which has been consistently echoed in all its communique over the years, especially the poor road and railway infrastructure along the economic corridors that link the northeast subregion to the rest of the country, nothing serious seems to be happening.

“The roads from Enugu to Maiduguri are in a deplorable state, and the railway from Enugu to Maiduguri has been destroyed. This is a major route for regional trade and is very important for integration, peace-building and improving national unity. The region is also not included in the National Infrastructure Plan for the transition from PMS to Compressed Gas.

“The Forum is calling on the Federal Government to look into the situation and consider the reconstruction of this basic infrastructure along the Enugu-Maiduguri Economic Corridor and the inclusion of NE in all National Development Plans and initiatives.   

“Forum notes with dismay the blackout experienced by the region over the last one month and the nonchalant attitude exhibited by the TCN in addressing this issue of national importance for the security and development of the country. The Forum is watching keenly the commitment made by TCN to restore power to all the states of the region by the 27th of May, 2024. Accordingly, the Forum urged the Federal Government to direct TCN to take immediate action. The Forum has resolved, in the short term, to set up a solar power plant that can generate a minimum of 10 Megawatts per state. 

“Forum notes with deep concern that the northeast is the only region in Nigeria that has one transmission line supplying six states with a land mass of nearly 300,000 square kilometers and a population of over 35 million people. This has made the region the most vulnerable and most disadvantaged for industrial development and economic growth, with over 70% of its population below 35 years of age.

“Forum therefore calls on the Minister of Power and indeed the Federal Government as a matter of urgency to implement the extension of the 330KV transmission line from Makurdi – Gassol – Jalingo linking to Adamawa – Gombe – Bauchi and the extension of the 330KV line from Kano- Bauchi- Yobe, linking to Borno.

“Forum resolved to maximise the existing hydropower generated in Kashimbilla and Dadin Kowa dam which the region has not been benefitting from because the Ministry of Power has failed to extend the 330KV line of Makurdi – Gassol- Jalingo line.” 

According to the communiqué, the forum noted that with the 10th meeting, it had come of age, and that it “is a pointer that the states and the governors are on the right path, and it should be sustained.

“Forum commended Bauchi State Government for hosting the Northeast Trade Fair following the decision of the Forum at the 8th Meeting in Maiduguri.  The Trade Fair is an important tool for promoting regional commerce, opening the region to investors and, above all a proof that the decision once agreed by the Forum can be translated into action.”    

On climate change and environmental degradation, the governors said these had remained “a reality in the region. It appreciates the various states for the policies they are putting in place to reclaim the environment. It called for a more sustained and coordinated regional onslaught to reverse the speed of desertification in the region.” 

It charged “the Northeast Development Commission (NEDC) to be consultative in its dealings, operation and project prioritization. It calls on the NEDC to work with the states in the region for Energy Development to unlock the energy potentials of the region and lessen the energy paucity burden of the people. 

“Forum notes that the world is passing through a horrific food security crisis, especially with the war in Ukraine, climate change and poor agricultural practices. In the northeast, member states resolved to continue to invest in agriculture value chain and encourage the transformation of subsistence farming into SMEs. The member states of the forum will support the procurement of improved drought-resistant and short-maturation seedlings, subsidise fertilizers and ensure that the region specialises in the production of such seeds. 

“Forum resolved to partner with OCP Africa to support Agriculture in the northeast. Forum reaffirmed its commitment to strengthening the partnership of member states with UNICEF on investing in sustainability for improved Water and Sanitation Coverage (WASH) in the region.  

“The Forum appreciates the Government and People of Bauchi State for hosting the meeting. It resolved to hold the 11th meeting of the Forum in Damaturu, Yobe State, between 30th-31st August, 2024.”

Other members of the group apart from Zulum are those of Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe states.