The traditional ruler, Igwe Emmanuel Egwuaba, and stakeholders of Ogurugu community in Uzo Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State have promised to support as well as donate their land for the proposed naval base and its operations in the area.
The development was disclosed by the traditional ruler, alongside his people, when a joint committee set up by both the federal and the state governments paid a working visit to the community on Sunday.
The committee, led by the Deputy Governor of Enugu State, Barr. Ifeanyi Ossai, on the side of the Enugu State Government, and Rear Admiral Chijioke Onyemaobi, who represented the federal government, was welcomed by the jubilant members of the community who hosted them with fanfare.
Igwe Egwuaba while convening his people’s happiness to the government for its intervention in the community, said if and when sited, the naval base would boost the economy of the area through the attraction of investors and other social amenities such as hospital, school and market.
He further added that the community had earlier resolved to cooperate and support the government by ceding their land and ensuring that the project was successfully executed.
According to the royal father: “As you can see yourself, the entire community members came out to welcome these government officials because of the news of the naval base they are coming to site here. It is a thing to celebrate because the government has remembered us.
“All of us in Ogurugu Community have resolved to support this project, and we want to assure the government that whatever is required from us, we will make it available. We have equally told them that we have large hectares of land and we are ready to give out our land for this project.
“This project will have many positive impacts on the lives of our people and the general economy of this place. You know we are dominantly into agriculture and we produce food staples such as rice, cassava, maize, among other agricultural produce. So, this proposed base by the Nigerian Navy will open up our area and expand the economy. We can easily move our farm produce to the market through the waterways.
“Ogurugu community is made up of 9 villages and we all share the same communal land. We have agreed that whatever the government is planning here in Ogurugu we’re ready to support it. We have pledged to give our land for the project because it’s all about the development of our community.
“Let me emphasize this for the umpteenth time; we, the people of Ogurugu community in Uzo Uwani Local Local Area of Enugu State are happy with the way Governor Peter Mbah is leading us by example. He is spreading his good governance across every community.
“We are also appealing to Governor Mbah to come and invest in agriculture in Ogurugu. We have fertile land for whatever agricultural purpose the governor is planning.”
On his part, a former chairman of the local government area and stakeholder from the community, Chief James Ademu, noted that the news about the proposed project had already brought together the different villages in the community in order to ensure maximum cooperation with the government officials, saying it was a much anticipated project by the people.
He further disclosed that they had held several meetings among themselves in anticipation of the committee and arrived at a conclusion that they were ready to donate any part of the community the Nigerian Navy chooses for the project.
“This project is going to help our people, empower us economically, and we will not take it for granted,” Chief Ademu said.
Speaking earlier, Rear Admiral Onyemaobi said the committee had visited the Igwe’s palace to pay homage and also seek the support and cooperation of the people in making sure the naval base operations were actualized.
He appealed to the people to work in synergy with the military personnel who would be visiting the area from time to time by assisting them with required support and information.
Addressing newsmen shortly after conducting a survey on the river, the senior military officer stated that the water has all the requirements for the establishment of the naval base and other naval facilities, stressing that it’s navigable, wide and strategic.
He assured that work would soon commence in the area even as he underscored that the project would assist in keeping the area safe for the citizens.
While assuring that the security and economic benefits of the naval base would serve the country as a whole, the Deputy Governor said Ogurugu was strategic to the country’s economic growth during colonial era.
He revealed that their visit was necessitated by the desire of the Nigerian Navy to commence the project immediately, adding that the success of the project would depend on how Ogurugu, Iga, Asagba, and the entire Uzo Uwani council area give their support to the Navy.
Barr. Ossai, who said the naval establishment would include designated area for building offices, training ground and residence, maintained that the state government under Governor Peter Mbah would soon commence the process of acquiring land for the project.
According to him, Ogurugu community, Uzo Uwani council area and the state at large would be the greatest beneficiaries of the project once established in terms of security and robust economic drive.
“This project is going to secure your inland waterway. It’s going to trigger economic benefits for Ogurugu. It’s going to provide the much desperately needed security so that we can go back to our farms, our commercial agriculture and begin to witness the same export Ogurugu had done in the 1930s and 1940s. What we expect is the maximum cooperation of everybody in the community and the local government to ensure speedy and immediate completion of the project,” the Deputy Governor added.
Appreciating the gesture of the government for the project, the council chairman, Hon. Chukwudi Nnadozie, said the people of the local government were glad that the project would give priority to the security of his people through an effective policing system.
He expressed gratitude to the state governor and the federal government for the choice of the local government, promising that they would give the navy whatever support it needed to facilitate the project and ensure its speedy completion.
Those at the visit included the Commissioner for Agriculture and Agro-Industrialisation, Hon. Patrick Nwabueze Ubro, Commissioner for Human Development and Poverty Eradication, Dr. Malachy Agbo, Chairmen of Igboeze North and Udenu local government areas, Hon. Ejike Itodo and Hon. Solomon Onah, respectively.
Others were, Commodore D C Ekwom, Commodore S Ibrahim, Navy Captain U I Abubakar, Navy Captain A A Ibrahim, Commander O. M. Williams, among others.