South East governors, Ohanaeze silent as fuel scarcity bites harder in region

The silence by Southeast governors and apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, continued yesterday, as fuel scarcity bit harder in the five states of the region.

Efforts by The Guardian to speak with the Director-General of the Southeast Governors’ Forum, Prof. Uchenna Ortuanya, proved abortive. Ortuanya, who is also Secretary to the Enugu State Government, did not respond to text messages sent to his mobile number.

Moves to get reaction from Ohanaeze Ndigbo also did not yield results.

Residents are finding it difficult to conduct daily activities like the movement of goods and persons are hampered by scarcity. Prices of commodities in markets have also risen.

Checks by The Guardian revealed that while a litre of petrol is being sold for as high as N500/N600 per litre in the black market, few independent marketers that have products sell between N220 to N250 per litre. No major dealer or marketer, however, can boast of having the product in the region.

But lamenting the development, yesterday, Igbo group, Ndi-Igbo United Forum (NUF), regretted that the innocent masses were suffering untold hardship, stressing that it was unfair for any organisation to subject the people to more woes.

NUF Board of Trustees (BoT) Chairman, Chief Chinedu Mba, said: “IPMAN in the Southeast must, as a matter of urgency, reconsider and shelve any and all plans about this action. What they should be focusing on is any practical and effective means of resolving their issue with Imo State and not making very unpopular moves to escalate it.”

Also, an Enugu-based political activist, Dr Jerry Ugwu, said the development clearly indicates a leadership vacuum in the zone and a vote-of-no-confidence of the present crop of governors. “How do you justify the action that has almost brought the economy of the zone to its knees? Prices of food items have gone up. Residents are finding it difficult to move about their daily activities and there is no word from the government of the zone on how this matter can be resolved. They don’t care. They are not bothered.”

The crisis followed an industrial action by the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN). The association, since last week, shut down the supply of petroleum products in the zone over an issue between one of its members and the Imo State government.

The bone of contention was said to be the inability of the state to pay N100 million awarded as damages by a court to an IPMAN member, following the alleged illegal demolition of part of his fuel station by the immediate past government, led by Rochas Okorocha.

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