Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Uche Ogah, has alleged that some Governors converted most of the Federal Government social interventions before the #EndSARS protests as their political party’s interventions.
The Minister also justified the heavy presence of military and police in the South East geopolitical zone, saying specifically that the presence of the military has attracted investments to South East.
Dr. Ogah, who stated this while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, also said that the allegation that police extort money from motorists in the South East was a thing of concern.
The Minister said he briefed the Council on the town hall meeting with his constituents and stakeholders following the directives of President Muhammadu Buhari to all the cabinet members to talk to their people efforts of government at the wake of the #EndSARS protests.
He said: “I presented my report from my State, Abia, and Honourable Emeka Nwajiuba presented for Imo State and we were able to convey Mr. President’s message to the people in our various states.
“Majorly, one high point that I want to say critically was in Abia State, a documentary was done showing issues concerning war. There is no need for anybody to encourage war in any more.
“War does not bring prosperity but peace brings prosperity to the entire world and that is why we stand for one indivisible nation, Nigeria for every one. That’s what Mr. President stands for and this government has done a lot for this nation within this period which we shared with the people and they are happy with the performance of the Federal Government.
“Except that they feel that most of the information is not getting down and which we have been started passing on to the people that this is what the government is doing. So I believe that the information is getting out there and people are happy with what the Federal Government is doing.”
Asked whether the Police were involved in the stakeholders meeting because of the complaints that Police were still mounting road blocks in South East and extorting people, he said the Police were part of the meeting.
He said: “First I want to say that the Police were involved in the town hall meeting all the security agencies were part of the town hall meeting.
“But one thing I am a history student, I always like to tell people history, if you remember there was a time the economy of the entire South East eroded as a result of kidnapping. We actually invited the security forces down to South East.
“Remember (General Azubuike) Ihejirika (former Chief of Army Staff) was then… even a governor in my own state could not operate as a Governor. Kidnappers were unable to allow him to operate, we invited the army, we invited the police, we invited everybody, the entire South East economy eroded, nothing was going on in the entire South East.
“Most times, I don’t always want to agree wheen people want to say that people are being extorted because I pass through the same road, you can always say you have long queues because people are being stopped and search, it’s not because of extortion, that is one.
“So basically I believe that when we talk about these security issues, we need to exercise caution because the presence of the military in South East gives more opportunity for people to invest because people are convinced that there is security.
“Remember what happened in Anambra State let me use that as an example. When the governor came in, Anambra was a place where nobody gets into, when the governor came in, he descended on all the kidnappers, they were demolishing their (kidnappers) houses. Today, if you go to Anambra state, you will see a whole lot of investments coming into that state.
“So let us look at it from that point of view that these people are equally… there is nothing that has no pros and (cons), when you look at it, it has its negative and positive attributes.
“So, I don’t want us to always look at it as people are being extorted, no, the benefit of their presence in the South East has encouraged a lot of investments in the South East.”
Also asked why there was a gap in communicating federal government policies to the people of South East, he attributed it to party politics.
He said,” If you look at it you will know that the entire South East are governed by PDP, most of the Federal Government interventions are not communicated to the people, they try to appropriate these interventions, that is one reason you need to understand but we have tried as much as possible to let them understand that these are the things that the federal government has been doing.
“In most of the states you see the governors converting most of these interventions as their own party’s interventions rather than the federal government intervention, so these are the reasons.”