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Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo will this Thursday flag off the dredging of the Oguta/Orashi waterways linking the Atlantic Ocean from Imo State as efforts by the Federal Government to designate that part of Imo State as an Oil and Gas Free Trade Zone continues to gather momentum.
The Eastern Updates recalls that last week, President Muhammadu Buhari granted another of Governor Hope Uzodimma’s requests to declare the Oguta/ Ohaji/Egbema and environs as an Oil and Gas Free Trade Zone given the quantum of oil and gas deposit in the area believed to be the largest in the country.
Speaking on Sunday after Mass at the Government House Chapel, Owerri, Governor Uzodinma disclosed that Vice President Osinbajo will be joined in Imo State by the Chief of Defence Staff, the Chief of Naval Staff, the Minister of Transportation, the Minister of Trade and Investment, among other key federal government functionaries and urged Imo people to be part of the important event.
The governor said that the ‘dredging has become necessary considering a lot of criminal activities going on in that area using the axis as a hideout.’
He explained that ‘considering its negative impact on the image of Imo State government and its people,’ his government has ‘decided to partner Nigerian Navy to clean up the channel from Oguta Lake to Orashi River up to the high sea as far as Degema.’
He recalled that before the 1960s, bigger vessels were coming to Oguta town to collect produce.
‘As a matter of fact, the warehouses and the office buildings used by the Royal Niger Company in the 60s are still there,’ he said.
Governor Uzodimma maintained that his government has a duty ‘to ensure security, reduce the spate of banditry and illegality in that area. That is why we have decided to embark on the project, partnering with the Federal Government.’
He said: ‘By the Grace of God, this administration will partner with Nigerian Navy in the funding and supervision of the project to ensure its success.’
Highlighting the advantages, the governor added, ‘When completed, it will boost the economy of the area and indeed that of the state and Nigeria in general.’
He also used the opportunity to again appreciate and thank President Buhari who he said had given approval that the entire Orashi/Oguta area be designated as an Oil and Gas Free Trade Zone.