• Friday, May 24, 2024
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Lagos-Calabar highway: I only initiated removal when construction had already commenced – Obi replies Umahi

N15bn budget allocation for National Assembly hospital insensitive— Obi

Peter Obi, the Labour Party’s presidential candidate in the last general elections, has responded to what he terms “distortion of facts” about his tenure as Anambra State governor, focusing on the demolitions linked to the Lagos-Calabar coastal highway project.

In a Thursday statement on his X account, Obi aimed to clarify issues without political language. He stated that his policy during his governorship tenure was to remove any structures blocking roads or built without approval.

“I aim to address these issues directly, devoid of political rhetoric, to ensure clarity for all. Let me be unequivocal: during my governorship, I made it abundantly clear that all structures obstructing existing roads and lacking approval would be removed,” he said.

Referring to a viral video where he ordered the demolition of a building in Anambra, Obi stated that demolition only occurred after construction started. He challenged critics to prove any demolished structures on roads or businesses were not encroaching and had approval during his term.

“The circulated video clearly stated this, and I only initiated removal when construction had already commenced. Any insinuation otherwise is a blatant misrepresentation of the truth.”

“I challenge anyone to verify and show me where the demolished structures on existing roads or ongoing businesses were not encroaching on the road and built without government approval while I served as governor,” he said.

Obi cited the demolition of the Onitsha North local government headquarters, which was on a stadium site. He said the headquarters was demolished and relocated and a new office was built away from the stadium.

“I decisively demolished the Onitsha North local government headquarters situated on the only existing stadium, relocated, and built a brand new structure for the local government office away from the stadium,”

“This action was necessary to restore the stadium to its original purpose as a sporting facility for the people. Subsequently, the stadium was rightfully named after the first owner of the first football club figure in Nigerian sports, Chuba Ikpeazu, as a tribute to our commitment to honouring our heroes,” Obi stated.

The former governor emphasised his focus on repairing existing infrastructure over initiating disruptive projects. He differentiated his actions from the current highway project, stating he did not propose new roads that would cause destruction.

Obi criticised the job losses and destruction caused by the construction of the Lagos-Calabar highway, contrasting it with his administration’s efforts to improve infrastructure without harming communities.

He said, “The ongoing destruction and disruption of jobs and livelihoods associated with the Lagos-Calabar coastal road construction sharply contrasts with my administration’s efforts to improve infrastructure while minimising adverse impacts on communities.”

He addressed accusations of inciting the people against the government, rejecting them as attempts to damage his reputation.

“Regarding allegations of incitement against the government, I firmly reject these unfounded accusations aimed at tarnishing my character.

“My focus is on fostering constructive dialogue and inclusivity, rather than engaging in divisive politics. Claims of incitement are baseless distractions,” he said.

David Umahi, the minister of Works, on Wednesday, accused Obi of inciting the South East people against the federal government over his comments on the Lagos-Calabar coastal highway.

Obi had earlier asked the federal government to halt the road project, describing it as a “job-losing one and a misplaced priority.”
He lamented that the project will lead to more hardships for the people, citing the Landmark Beach Resort’s impact and potential job losses in the leisure and hospitality sector, affecting small businesses and youth employment.

Umahi responded to Obi, stating he had conducted similar actions as the governor without compensating affected individuals. He warned Obi against inciting uninformed residents of the South East against the federal government.