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FG never made commitment N1billion for Ekwueme’s burial- Ngige

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Babatunde Abiodun 

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige has said that Federal Government has never made commitment to expend the sum of N1 billion for the burial of the former Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme.

Ngige in a statement yesterday,  described as misleading and needless,  the controversy over his interview with the press on the commitment of the Federal Government to the burial of  Ekwueme, as he did not attach any figure to what he termed “a deserving national tribute to one of Nigeria’s foremost statesman.”

According to Minister, he only gave a summary  of the number of projects the  Federal Government has taken to ensure that a man who  easily was Nigeria’s beacon of democracy was given a decent burial.

He said he was  prempted the rhetorics of cynics and detractors  who could have easily run to town to claim the Federal Government has abandoned Ekwueme in  death.

Part of the statement read: “For the avoidance of doubt, what he did as a member of the Burial Planning  Committee was to give the details of the road rehablitation projects from the Awka end of the State and from Abia and Imo State axis , all leading to Ekwueme’s home town of Oko, as well as the   medical services, the  mausoleum and others.  But at no time did the Minister  attach a figure of One billion naira! “

“An unedited video and audio tape of the interview as recorded by both broadcast and print reporters  is easily within reach.”

“The Minister is an Igbo and knows full well that just as  a count is not taken of the number of children a parent is blessed with in Igbo tradition, the same tradition holds the burial rites and attendant expenses even more sacred to warrant such display of figures.”

” However, it is important  to add that such pieces of  information in an administration such as ours  that is  anchored on openess, and bouyed by the Freedom of Information could be at the finger tips of any investigative reporting.”

Ngige added  that the Burial Planning Committee was satisfied with the progress of the  work and looked forward to a very successful event which has already kicked off beautifully and successfully  in Lagos, Abuja and Enugu.

Again, he said, perhaps, this is what detractors did not wish to see.

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