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Stop inciting Igbos against FG over Lagos – Calabar Road Project, Umahi warns Peter Obi

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.As Tinubu begins payment of compensation to property owners

By Cosmas Chukwu

 

The Minister of Works, Dave Umahi, has alleged that Peter Obi, former presidential candidate of the Labour Party, LP, is inciting people of the southeast, especially those who are not well informed, against the government.

 

Umahi claimed that Obi would not fight for the people even after getting them into trouble.

 

He made the statement on Wednesday while speaking during an event to compensate property owners affected by the Lagos- Calabar coastal road prospect.

 

The exercise was organized by the Federal Ministry of Work.

 

The 700-kilometre coastal highway has been enmeshed in controversy following the demolition of Landmark Beach Resort, valued at $200 million, to create a right of way for the project which is estimated to cost the federal government N15 trillion.

 

 

After the demolition, a visibly worried Paul Onwuanibe, the Group CEO of Landmark, told BusinessDay that about 70 percent of the beach was destroyed by the government bulldozer, describing the action as “insensitive.”

 

“What is left of these businesses are the rubbles you can see (in video clips he captured while the demolition was going on). Those are people’s investments and means of livelihood reduced to mere rubbles; so many jobs have been lost and many Nigerian families are in for it,” Onwuanibe said.

 

On his part, Obi slammed President Bola Tinubu’s administration for going on with the controversial Lagos-Calabar coastal highway project in defiance of public outcry.

 

The presidential candidate expressed displeasure that the government is embarking on a job-losing project at a time of rampant unemployment.

 

Obi said it was not too late to discontinue the Lagos-Calabar highway project, adding that urgent necessities are nationwide security, poverty eradication, healthcare, and education, especially for the poor and underprivileged.

 

He had also described the reported demolition of businesses and residences in the designated right of way for the project as insensitive and heart-wrenching, lamenting that livelihoods were being wiped away, lifetime investments wasted, and jobs disappearing as a result of the demolition.

 

In a post on his X handle on Tuesday, the former Anambra State governor said: “The outcry against this project has been overwhelming due to the current situation in the country. However, reports as of yesterday indicate that demolition of businesses and residences in the designated right of way for the project has commenced from the Lagos end.

 

“The sight of this insensitive demolition is heart-wrenching. Livelihoods are being wiped away, lifetime investments are being wasted, and jobs are disappearing as bulldozers roar through. The homes of the elderly are being overturned by the power of bulldozers.

 

“This hasty flag-off defies the widespread outcry by the public, especially business and property owners directly affected by the project. Nobody knows the outcry that will accompany this project as it progresses towards poor rural landscapes.

 

“Thousands of jobs are about to be lost, with investments above $200 million at risk. Over 100,000 jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector face imminent extinction, along with 80 small businesses and their 4000 mostly youth employees.”

 

However, Umahi insisted there was no inhumanity meted to Landmark and that the matter should be buried because he was actively involved.

 

The former Ebonyi State Governor alleged that Obi goes around to condemn people, thereby bringing judgment upon himself.

 

He said: “It brings to some of the comments made by my brother, his Excellency Mr Peter Obi, I am not supposed to comment about it because some people have already done the work. And I know what Arise Television brought courtesy of Channels Television, they were bringing similar scenarios when His Excellency Peter Obi was the governor. He made a statement saying ”Any infrastructure that stands in the way of the road must go. And there would be no compensation paid.” That’s what he said.

 

“But look at me, by the human face of the renewed hope agenda administration, we are even paying for people who are illegally staying on the coastal line, and don’t have valid infrastructure and valid documents. That is mercy, that’s mercy… You know some people darken counsel without knowledge. You know there’s the devil in the details.

 

“When you condemn people, you bring judgment upon yourself. And that is what he (Obi) has done. And I think he’s inciting some of the south east people that are not well informed. He is inciting them. And gets them into trouble. And he doesn’t go to fight for them. Wisdom is a defence. And I want our people to have wisdom because I am involved.

 

“There’s is no inhumanity meted to Landmark, that matters should be buried because I was there. And so we fought everything possible. Even some people donated property to save his two big infrastructures. That’s appreciation. But some people have taken sides along with him to play politics.

 

 

Meanwhile, The Federal Government has disbursed N2.75 billion for the first phase of the compensation payouts and unveiled the new design routes for the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway project.

 

The Minister of Works, Sen. Dave Umahi, made the announcement at the commencement of payouts to property owners affected by the construction of the 700km highway project, on Wednesday in Lagos.

 

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the federal government had, on April 4, inuagurated a committee to review, evaluate and compensate land owners affected by the construction of the highway project.

 

According to Umahi, the goal of the committee is to ensure transparency in all undertakings.

 

He said, “It’s my pleasure to unveil the new design route, and I wish to flag off the compensation from chainage zero to chainage three in a total sum of N2.75 billion. That is very ambitious.

 

“It’s my pleasure to invite the Director of Design and the Controller to call the people and give them the symbolic amount agreed and to assure that before 1p.m. tomorrow, you will all get your alert as agreed.

 

“It will be difficult to show you all that we have done here to protect the claimants so that you don’t go to their houses, this one is private to us.

 

“But the smaller ones, we can do that symbolically, but no cash is paid.”

 

The Minister also announced that all tenants affected by the demolition at Landmark would receive compensation by the end of the day.

 

Umahi said, ” All tenants within the Landmark premises have been shortlisted for payments by 2 p.m. today. That closes the politics of Landmark.”

 

The Chairman, Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway compensation committee, Mrs Korede Keisha, while presenting cheques to deserving beneficiaries, corroborated what Umahi said.

 

She said, “Just like the minister said that this will be done in phases, so, the first 10 recipients would be called today. If you were not called today, don’t be afraid, we are going to call you in the next few days.

 

“The secretariat is open and we work 24/7 everyday. So, this is just the opening one.”

 

She named the beneficiaries as Moist Beach, Checkmate, Kingfisher, G12 Beach, Xchange Lounge, Kingston, Landmark Kids Club by Maxtivity, FX lounge and Bar, and Best Rock.

 

The Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway is designed to connect Lagos to Cross River, passing through the coastal states of Ogun, Ondo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa Ibom, before culminating in Cross River.

 

Construction of each kilometre of the 700 kilometre highway will cost N4 billion.

 

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