By ANAYO OKOLI
UMUAHIA—ABIA State government, yesterday, openly put the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Chief Goddsday Orubebe, on the defensive, by accusing him of neglecting the state and treating it as not part of the region. The government made its position known when Orubebe led a delegation of senior staff of his Ministry, including the Minister of State, to Government House, Umuahia.
The minister, however, fired back, saying Abia State had not been neglected by his ministry. Abia State deputy governor, Chief Emeka Ananaba, who received the minister and his delegation, said: “If not that the governor asked us to welcome you, we could have received you with placards to ask what you are coming to do. Are we part of the Niger Delta? Do you want us to join those who are complaining against the East-West road?
We have not seen you. You have talked about some projects, we have been hearing that. You said you want to create a road map. We welcome you, but we are not happy. Look at the road you said you are building from Obehie to Azumini, it is in a mess. Well, when we look at the road map, we will study it, I hope the governor will nominate those who will come (for the conference).
“I don’t want to be there because I will tell you what you don’t want to hear. At my age, I will tell you if you are my friend. Can you tell us how many of Abia youths you have employed; their files are in your office. You have not done anything on them. But for Ochendo (the governor), kidnapping would have continued. It was caused by lack of job.”
He also told Orubebe to watch his staff, saying some of them always fed him with falsehood. Ananaba said:” Watch your staff. But for the stones they are throwing at you on the East – West road, you would not have come out.”
However, the minister, who said he took the feelings of Abia State in good faith, explained that the ministry two weeks ago employed 300 graduates, out of which 41 were Abia indigenes. He also explained that the ministry had trained 602 youths in the areas of agriculture, maritime, adding that 62 Abia youths benefited from the programme. “So it is not true that Abia State was forgotten. It is not in any way true that Abia State is neglected. Abia State is never neglected.”