The Nigerian government has declared the southeastern part
of the country an ecological disaster area. The region makes up a quarter of
the country. The east fought a three-year civil war in the 1970's.
Prominent leaders in the area say the government
intentionally neglected it to punish it for trying to break away
from the rest of the country.The government says the area's poor
infrastructure and environmental problems are caused mainly by years of
neglect and leaders who stole the region's wealth. The government says it will
now give more federal funds to develop the area, which borders the volatile
oil-rich Niger Delta.
Godwin Onu is a professor of political science at
the Nnamdi Azikiwe University in the southeastern state of Anambra. He says the
people of the southeast are skeptical about the promise.
"I think it is part of politics, it is also at
the level of promise and we have had many promises before with regards to
infrastructural provision in the southeast of Nigeria and most of them were not
fulfilled, especially when one talks of issue of roads, the various erosion
sites, the ecological disaster they are talking about because it did not start
today, various government have been promised a lot, but at the end of the day
nothing is done. All the roads in the southeastern part of Nigeria that belong
to the federal government are completely abandoned".
the Nigerian government is punishing the area because of its decision to fight
a civil war.
"The answer is very simple. People from the
southeast part of Nigeria are paying the price of the civil war, the anger of
the civil war is still bring visited on people from this part of the country ".
Onu says the feeling of optimism by leaders of the area may be because of the
new priorities of president Umaru Yar'Adua.
Yar 'Adua's administration veers a little bit off from that of his predecessor
in terms of seriousness and in terms of sincerity. I think Yar Adua is a different person. He looks more
sincere and that must have been the anchor of their believe in what Goodluck
Jonathan told them".