The League of Maritime Editors and Publishers (LOMEP) on Monday raised concern about the statement credited to Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State who said the federal government had approved the dredging of Orashi River to the Atlantic Sea to serve as the first seaport in the South -East region.
Governor Uzodinma, according to an online publication, disclosed that the approval followed the visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to the state to commission projects executed by his administration.
The statement added that “when completed, the seaport will complement the economic activities of the other six major seaports in the country which will enable traders from the zone to import and receive their goods directly while enjoying a comparative advantage as well as promote and encourage the business spirit of the people of South -East”.
However, in a statement signed by the President, Chief Timothy Okorocha and the Public Relations Officer, Mr Francis Ugwoke, the League while noting that this will be a good project if it is true, all the same, raised concerns about the planned project.
League which is made up of Maritime Editors wants the governor to provide answer on when the dredging project would be carried out, whether it is to start this year or next year.
The League also wants to know if the project is captured in the 2023 budget If indeed it is to be executed next year.
“We want to know when the project was approved and the contractor handling the project”, the statement said.
The League equally demanded that the governor gives further clarification on the project in terms of when specifically President Buhari made the promise during his visit to the state.
The League queried, “Did the President make this promise in a close-door meeting with the governor or during his address at a public function? The question is based on the fact that no national newspaper or television station which all covered the President’s visit reported the news. Or was the promise made in a letter to the state governor?:”
The statement challenged the governor to come out and state the involvement of the Ministry of Transportation and agencies in the project.
The League raised alarm that the so called project may simply be what the state governor sees as a marketing tool to woo the people of Imo State and the rest of the South East to vote for the ruling party in 2023.
The League suspects that the project may actually be a fraud or another racket, noting that the Orashi River was said to have been dredged in 2012, and wondered what happened there afterwards?
The statement said the governor should as quickly as possible address the concerns raised, while also urging the people of the South- East to be wary of such questionable promises and claims by any state governor as the 2023 election nears.