President Muhammadu Buhari has held a closed door meeting with leaders from the South-eastern part of Nigeria.
The meeting held inside the new Banquet hall of the State House in Abuja shortly after Islamic Friday prayers.
The leader of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, John Nwodo, who spoke with State House correspondents after the meeting said they had a “frank and robust exchange” with the president concerning the alleged neglect of the region by successive administrations.
“We dealt with problems of development in the South-east, basic capital projects which have for a very long time been neglected not just from this government but for a very long time.
“Major arteries of federal highways in the South-east have been in complete state of disrepair. Enugu-Onitsha, Enugu-Port Harcourt, Aba-Ikot Ikpene are virtually impassable.
“We talked about the inland waterways and the dredging of the River Niger. We talked about the reticulation of gas pipeline on the South-east. We export gas from the south east to the other parts of the country, but there is no reticulation of the pipeline and industrial clusters in the south east,” he said.
Mr. Nwodo also said the meeting discussed the bad state of the only international airport in the region.
“We got assurance from the president that he will deal with each of those problems,” he said.
The Ohanaeze leader said the meeting also discussed alleged marginalization of the South-east by the Buhari administration, saying, “like I have said these problems have been there overtime and we have had several presidents, it didn’t just happen in the last two years. But we expressed the desire that he should be able to address them.”
He said the South-east leaders were confident the president will deliver on his promise to them.
“There is no reason for me to doubt him because this is the first time I have had this interaction with him. I have the feeling that he spoke to us very frankly,” he said.
On whether the meeting discussed the issue of the Indigenous Peoples Of Biafra, IPOB, an organisation seeking secession from the Nigerian state, the Igbo leader said, “We talked about IPOB as a symptomatic consequence of the continuous marginalization of the South-east over a long period of time.
“Understandably our children are restive and we want to make sure that the federal government is responsive to the issues that have cumulated in the quintessence of these agitations.”
The federal government has since declared IPOB a terrorist organisation and arrested several of its members.
Other issues discussed, according to Mr. Nwodo, include “devolution of powers, the constitution, the paucity of the states and local governments in our place.”
“And the president has asked that he be given time to look at this more holistically,” he said.
Those who attended the meeting include governors from the South-east, traditional rulers and leaders of the Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo.