…As Uzodimma receives survey report from Navy
Indications that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has bought into the dredging of the Oguta/Orashi River up to the Atlantic Ocean emerged on Monday when Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State who initiated the project received the hydrographic and comprehensive bathymetric/ investigation survey report from the leadership of the Nigerian Navy.
Rear Admiral Hassan Kaoje, the Group Managing Director (GMD) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Nigerian Hydrological Agency led a team of top Naval officers to submit the report to Governor Uzodimma at the Government House Owerri.
The dredging of the Oguta Lake to Orashi River and to the Atlantic Ocean was flagged off by former President Muhammadu Buhari who was represented by his deputy, former Vice President Prof. Yemi Osibanjo on May 12, 2023.
Receiving the report at the New Executive Council Chambers Government House Owerri on Monday, September 25, 2023 Governor Uzodimma expressed delight receiving the report and described the project as very dear to him.
Governor Uzodimma who thanked former President Buhari and the former Chief of Naval Staff for approving and flagging off the project, also expressed gratitude to President Tinubu and the 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, South East and Nigeria in general.”
Governor Uzodimma recalled that at the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) many had thought it will not be possible to realise the project.
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.”
The Governor who said that “water is wealth in strong economy and other maritime nations,” noted that “most world powers and world economies are boosted through water and sea businesses.”
He acknowledged that with the completion of the Hydrographic and Comprehensive Bathymetric/Investigative Survey Report of Charting of the Oguta Lake to the Atlantic Ocean, and the necessary recommendations, “the State will embark on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and other necessary arrangements that will lead into the dredging proper.”
The Governor reiterated that the project was started to encourage gas optimisation in Imo State in particular and the South East in general and as an area suitable for Gas Industrial Cluster, Petrochemical Plant as well as Fertilizer Plant.
He reminded all well-meaning Nigerians that the need to create a sustainable economy in Imo State and by extension, the entire nation cannot be left to the Federal Government alone.
Furthermore, Governor Uzodimma noted that 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 said he is confident that the dredging of Oguta Lake to the Atlantic Ocean will create jobs, eliminate oil theft and help in the harnessing of the abundant gas deposit and other natural resources at the coast of Oguta Lake and Atlantic Ocean.
“This will be the future economic life-wire of the State.”
He assured that with the submission of the report and advantages that will accrue from the dredging, “the 3R government will provide every possible thing required to achieve the project.”
The Governor said he is expectant of the day the Oguta/Orashi route to the Atlantic will be realised, hence he urged the Navy and the Federal Republic of Nigeria as well as Imo people, to continue to sustain their support and partnership toward the success of the project.
Governor Uzodimma explained that the State has embarked on the project at a highly conservative and subsidized cost and that talks are ongoing with a foreign outfit that will participate in the dredging with their sophisticated dredging equipment still at a subsidised cost.
Thanking the Navy for a thorough job and for the submission, he said “the dredging is the kind of things I expect politicians to discuss, an idea that will enhance the future of Imo State because ideas rule the world, not those fouling the environment with talks of I will make Imo safe again when they have no manifesto.”
Finally, Governor Uzodimma thanked President Tinubu for supporting the project and assured that his administration will work with the Navy and all stakeholders to achieve a win-win situation.
Earlier at the submission, Rear Admiral Kaoje expressed the gratitude of the Chief of Naval Staff and the entire Navy towards the support and cooperation that exists between them, the Government and the people of Imo State.
He informed that the Navy does not only have the report on the pre-dredging survey of Oguta Lake and Orashi River to the Atlantic Ocean ready, but expressed their readiness to continue to partner with the State to realise the project.
In his presentation, the Navy Hydrographer of the Federation, Rear Admiral Ayo Olugbode said that “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.”
He described the achievement as a significant one, noting that “the Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodimma is the first Governor to ever embark on such a project in the history of Nigeria.”
Olugbode pointed out that the dredging embarked upon by the Governor has brought to the fore the fact that the same route was used for trading in the Colonial days, up to 1854. This means that “Governor Uzodimma is bringing back to life what was used as trade route long ago.”
He acknowledged that Imo State has the highest natural gas deposits in Nigeria and that water transport is the biggest access route, especially in the movement of oil and gas and the creating of huge revenue.
He recommended the need for environmental impact assessment, further dredging/canalisation of recommended sea access route from Orashi River up to Bonny River via Onne for navigation by bigger platforms, the installation and maintenance of standard IALA buoys and other aids to navigation, among others.
Adding their voices, Rear Admiral S S Lassa and Rear Admiral CE Okafor, both retired former Navy Hydrographers, expressed their gratitude to the Governor for initiating the project and his contributions in supporting the Navy in security operations.
While Admiral Lassa prayed that Imo people will re-elect Governor Uzodimma to enable him complete the project, Admiral Okafor assured that the Navy is poised for the next stage of the project, pledging their availability to assist in actualising the project.
Present at the presentation were the Deputy Governor of Imo State, Prof. Placid Njoku, the Chief of Staff, Bar. Nnamdi Anyaehie, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Bar COC Akaolisa, the Chairman of Civil Service Commission, Imo State, Dr (Mrs) Julie Onyeukwu, members of the State’s Expanded Executive Council and the Imo State All Progressives Congress Deputy Governorship candidate, Lady Chinyere Ekomaru and her husband.
Chief Press Secretary and Media Adviser to the Governor