S’South stakeholders slam Atiku over comment on proposed coastal railway, highway projects

South-South stakeholders have decried the recent comments by former Vice President of Nigeria, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, on the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Railway and the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway approved by the Federal Government.

Atiku is quoted to have queried the government’s decision to start the coastal projects.

Chief Asuquo Akpan, chairman of Crystal United Club in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, and Okoi Obono-Obla, a lawyer and former presidential aide, have cautioned Atiku to retract his comment.

They said such comment should not have come from him, accusing him of an attempt to again deprive them of meaningful projects as he did when he allegedly sold Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (Alscon) plant in Ikot Abasi, Akwa Ibom State.

According to Akpan, the former VP loathes efforts made to enhance socioeconomic development of the Southern region.

In his statement, Obono-Obla said, “It is disconcerting that Atiku Abubakar, the former VP would be intentional and deliberately confusing the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Railway and the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway under the guise of oppositional politics and or promoting the virtues of transparency and accountability.”

He said a cursory and deep reading of Atiku’s statement reveals that he is vehemently opposed to these two projects.

According to him, Atiku is using politics to sabotage the two well-conceived projects that can transform the Southern region in particular and Nigeria in general.

Obono-Obla said “Atiku’s statement is full of sound and fury, signifying nothing but a thinly veiled opposition to the two projects, perhaps because of sectional and regional interests masked and disguised in highly wired politics which has always been the bane of Nigeria.”

He alleged that the former VP is the same person who, in 2004, stutified the economic growth of the South South geopolitical region when he was the Chairman of National Privatization Council of Nigeria when he reportedly ensured the sale of Alscon plant in Ikot Abasi to undeserving Russian investors, known as UC Rusal for $250 million.

It was conceived by the Federal Military Government, headed by General Yakubu Gowon in the early 1970s to produce 193,000 tons of aluminum annually at optimal capacity. It was to generate $400 million annually.

The late General Sani Abacha implemented the ALSCON Project successfully when he was head of state.

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