June 25, 2024

Central News

at the center of it

Uzodima doggedly pursues dredging of Oguta/Orashi River into the Atlantic, expects presidential support

EXPECTATIONS soared in Owerri on Monday, that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has bought into Imo Gov. Hope Uzodima’s ambitious plan to have the Oguta/Orashi River dredged up to the Atlantic Ocean.
A statement by the governor’s chief press secretary and media adviser Oguwike Nwachukwu notes that, when that happens, a great feat would have been achieved.
On Monday Sen. Uzodimma, who initiated the project, received the hydrographic and comprehensive bathymetric/investigation survey report on it from the leadership of the Nigerian Navy.
Rear Admiral Hassan Kaoje, group managing director and chief executive officer (GMD/CEO) of the Nigerian Hydrological Agency led a team of top Naval officers to submit the report to the governor at Government House, Owerri.
Dredging of the Oguta Lake to Orashi River and to the Atlantic Ocean was flagged off by immediate-past President Muhammadu Buhari (represented by his Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo)on May 12, 2023.
Receiving the report, Gov. Uzodimma expressed delight, saying the project “is very dear” to him. He thanked the former president and the former Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) for approving and flagging off the project.
Future economic hub
He says he is also immensely grateful to President Tinubu and current Chief of Naval Staff Rear Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, “for buying into the project which is expected to form the future economic hub of Imo State, the Southeast and Nigeria in general.”
Gov. Uzodimma recalls that at the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to kick-start the process many had thought it would not be possible make progress so soon.
He therefore expressed delight that the first stage, which is the survey, has been completed and “the state is ready for the second stage with the continued support of the Navy and the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
With completion of the Hydrographic and Comprehensive Bathymetric/Investigative Survey Report and the necessary recommendations, “the state will now embark on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and other necessary steps that will lead into the dredging proper,” the governor says.
According to Sen. Uzodima his administration and the government of Imo State are already considering Public Private Partnership (PPP) in the maritime business, from China and France, to key into the project.
He is confident that dredging Oguta Lake to the Atlantic Ocean will create jobs, eliminate oil theft and help in harnessing the abundant gas deposits and other natural resources at the coast of Oguta Lake and Atlantic Ocean.
Imo State Govt is ready’
“This will be the future economic life-wire of the state,” he remarks saying that with the advantages that would accrue from the dredging, “the 3R government will provide every possible thing required to achieve the project.”
“Earlier, Rear Admiral Kaoje expressed gratitude of the Chief of Naval Staff and the entire Nigerian Navy for the support and co-operation existing between them, the Government and the people of Imo State. He says the Navy would do more to support the project.
In his presentation, Navy Hydrographer of the Federation Rear Admiral Ayo Olugbode said, “the Government of Imo State provided the funding and all the support that made it possible to start and complete the first stage of the project.”
First among equals’
He describes the achievement as a significant one, in that “Gov. Hope Uzodimma is the first governor to ever embark on such a project in the history of Nigeria.”
He too acknowledges that Imo State has the largest natural gas deposits in Nigeria and that water transport is the biggest access route, especially in the movement of oil and gas and the creation of huge revenue.
He recommended subsequent environmental impact assessment, further dredging/canalisation of recommended sea access route from Orashi River up to Bonny River via Onne, for navigation by larger platforms, installation and maintenance of standard IALA buoys and other aids to navigation, among others.
Rear Admirals SS Lassa CE Okafor, both retired former Navy Hydrographers, also expressed gratitude to the governor for initiating the project and for his contributions in supporting the Navy in security operations.
Also present at the presentation on the state government’s side were deputy governor Prof. Placid Njoku, Chief of Staff to the governor Barr. Nnamdi Anyaehie, Attorney-General/Commissioner for Justice COC Akaolisa, chairman of state Civil Service Commission Dr. (Mrs) Julie Onyeukwu, other members of the state’s Expanded Executive Council and Imo State All Progressives Congress feputy governorship candidate Lady Chinyere Ekomaru and her husband.