One year after discovering a gold reserve estimated to be over 20 million tonnes and worth over $900 trillion in Ehamufu, the five South Eastern States of Nigeria have raised its annual budget from a paltry $1.6 billion to $120 billion.

The region is hoping to spend $40 billion in its educational sector and $30 billion on public infrastructure, including regional rail networks to enhance movement of goods and services.

Briefing newsmen after the end of the meeting of the governor, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, the chairman of the South East governors forum said the Federal Government has accepted the forum's request to handover all federal institutions in the region, excluding military facilities and federal civil service for takeover and proper funding.

Speaking on the budget, Soludo explained that a total of $15 billion has been budgeted for the revitalisation of the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital as a regional reference hospital. He added that the fund also covers the revitalisation of other teaching hospitals in the five states with 15 percent of the funds set out to support emergency services.

"We're hoping to complete the revitalisation of UNTH and other teaching hospitals with world class infrastructure and equipment in the next eight months. We will also open a recruitment portal for medics both home and abroad to apply in five months time. Whatever they're paying them abroad, we will add something extra because we need their expertise to care for our people," he said.

"We have also signed an agreement to construct a rail network that will connect over 50 communities in the 5 states. Construction is expected to resume next month and to be completed in 18 months.

"On education, we will be overhauling the system to give more focus to STEM and skills acquisition. We have also signed agreements with General Electric and Siemens to increase our power generation from 5000 MW to 60,000 using our abundant gas resources, coal and river dams to power industrial estates and small businesses. Modalities for the provision of soft loans for small and medium enterprises to scale up their businesses are being worked out.

"Also, greater attention is being paid to agriculture with the reactivation of agricultural estates in Adani, Ani Nri, Ehamufu, Anyamelum, Ezza and Afikpo. The cashew plantations in Abia will be revitalised together with Abia Palm and Adah Palm. $6 billion has be set out for the construction of silos and other storage facilities, processing facilities, and loans for the purchase of mechanised farms tools and equipment".

Governor Soludo said the governors also agreed to review the conditions of service for civil servants with 50 000 housing units for civil servants and public school teachers set to be completed in 15 months time.

According to him, additional $10 billion will be deployed for the development of the tourism sector, especially vacation spots on the banks of Oguta Lake and Uwana beach.

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