By Odimegwu Onwumere
They have started work on the trepidation that is called Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway. The Federal Government (FG) had said that it was working the road to aid travellers during the yuletide season. But there are more that meet the eyes than the much touted repair of the major expressways that the peoples of the South-East and South-South – the regions that are the economic focal-point of Nigeria – have.
In the ongoing charade called Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway repair, or whatever name they have given to it, calls for rejection by the peoples of the South-East and South-South zones. This feeling is born due to the industrial politics the authorities concerned with the task are playing with the road. If what they mean, when they said that they are going to repair the road is to patch any conspicuous spot with cement and low quality materials, then the South-East and South-South peoples are being insulted.
The Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway does not need any ‘repair’ but total re-construction. The entire road is bad. There is no need cutting eye-catching damaged spots and then patch. What they are doing now on this road, can any of them swear by Amadioha that they can do same in Abuja? You go to the North there are very smooth roads there. How come they are patching the only major expressways in the South-East and South-South zones?
When President Goodluck Jonathan was fuming in rage that the Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway was going to be rebuilt, one had thought that he meant to build a 21st Century expressway, owing to what the South-East and South-South zones position in the country; but from what one can see the authorities are doing on that expressway, anyone saying that the Federal Government is deceitful is not gainsaying.
Rage and anger must characterise anyone with good intention for the South-East and South-South zones on sighting what the authorities have much amplified as work that they are doing on this expressway. It is frustrating as it is also insulting, when one sees the slapdash work that they have started to do. The urgency that the two zones had warned that the Federal Government should descend on the road, what the authorities are doing on this road is below the deep drawn sighs many people had expressed on sighting equipments on the road.
The Federal Government can’t give the people who had contributed immensely to the economy of the country something that would always generate issues of good-for-nothing. Not even the citation for the creation of an additional state in the South-East in particular has the Federal Government yielded to. Is the FG doing this because the people of the two regions had always maintained undaunted resolution for the peace of all in the country?
It peaks the stipulation of the stakeholders of the two zones in any meetings that the Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway should be smooth again, but this is not near what the Federal Government and its agents are doing on this road. It behooves stakeholders from these two zones to call the attention of members of the National Assembly from South-East and South-South zones to lend their governmental insights to Jonathan that what was said is not what is seen on the Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway.
Jonathan can’t say that he has responded to the call of the South-East and South-South to reconstruct the Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway, when what can be seen is mediocrity at display. This proves that Jonathan is not showing the same magnanimity the peoples of the two zones had shown him during his presidential elections, by giving him their votes about 95%. If the passion he would express to the people is to cast slur on them and call it road repair, then the two zones are in trouble till the expiration of his tenure.
In earnest, Jonathan’s theoretical-passion for the South-East and South-South zones is not giving them a sense of belonging. All his promises during the period of his electioneering campaigns have not been met. Rather, he has toasted the people with promises, but failed. The affirmation of this is the abuse that the FG is exhibiting on the Enugu-PH expressway. If this is like this, what will be the fate of other federal projects in the two regions?
It is a disenchantment that the Federal Government always thinks that anything it proposes for the peoples of the South-East and South-South zones can go for them, whether they like it or not. The adoption of this useless ‘repair’ on the Enugu-PH expressway should not be compromised. Especially, remembering the Igbo businessmen and women who have always lost billions of naira on this expressway. If their wares in the trucks did not fall and the goods got damaged, they would be seized in the gullies, culminating to criminals making prey of them. Those that are in-charge of the eye-service ubiquitous Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) should be questioned about the twaddle they knowingly or unknowingly feel that is going on, on the Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway. Is this garbage what they promised to do when some of their members appeared before the executive session of the Assembly on September 24 to elucidate what the federal establishments are going to do on the all the crucial Enugu-PH expressway? Hokum!
It was noted that there was adequate budgetary provision for the road, but the disappointment is that there is yet to be any meaningful work to take place on the Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway. If it is FERMA that is handling the work, it lacks the unruly approach to revitalising the road. The same is applicable to any current companies that are handling the work. The work that they are doing now would put the road on the path of its worse side. There is nothing tangible that they are doing there, except the arsenal of security details that have flooded the various sites, which is even out of place.
Regrettably, the agitation of many people from the South-East and South-South for a new facelift on the Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway has met the bricks wall. The work that whoever is doing on that road is not enduring. There is lack of rehabilitation. Perhaps, they are doing this now to shut-up the people from speaking out on the expressway. They have drawn the peoples’ attention to say that that afterall they have come to rescue them, when what can be seen is an organised confusion. The Nigerian factor!
The South-East and South-South zones should pass a resolution to the Federal Government to mean a serious business on the Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway, because the road had outlived the usual patching. And this is the ruse that they are doing on the road and are calling it rehabilitation or reconstruction. Maybe, the Federal Government wants all the people of the South-East and South-South zones to march in condemnation of the swindle it calls re-construction of the Enugu-PH expressway, just as lawyers in Aba, Abia State removed their wigs on September 18th this year and wore rain-boots and protested and registered their irritation with the authorities over this same road.
It has become very glaringly glare that the Federal Government is playing politics on its share of projects in the South-East and South-South zones, to suffer the commercial life of the peoples. But, how good or pleasant is this! It was expected that Jonathan would accord priority to the peoples of the two zones who are just enduring perilous times Jonathan may call democracy, but he is just much busy with less effect. It is a shattered hope!
It is going to two years that Jonathan was elected as president yet the South-East and South-South zones remain neglected. But those in authorities continue to give the peoples hope with titular announcements they make at the end of the meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) each week of the number of contracts that they have awarded for roads and other projects in the South-East and South-South zones, which have remained on the stage of optical-illusion.
The aggravations over the deplorable situation of federal roads in the South-East and South-South zones are worrisome. Before, it was squarely Abia State that was experiencing the awful expressway with Rivers and Enugu States passively enjoying smoothness of their side of the expressway. But today, it is a sorry tale beginning from Rivers State to Enugu State. And when shall this end? Before, people were saying that the problem between Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, former Governor of Abia State, and ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo affected the Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway. So, today, whose problem is it with Jonathan that he is doing a very shoddy work on the same expressway?
Conversely, the Federal Government must enter into full reconstruction of the Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway. Not patching. The South-East and South-South zones have expressed much patience in this country and deserve a quality service. The Federal Government must realise the fact that about 80% of the total Nigeria’s resources every other parts of the country are being sustained with, come from the South-East and South-South zones. The Federal Government should be in touch with reality and truth. It has severally assured the peoples of the South-East and South-South zones that it would do it and they believed, but there is disappointment today. The peoples of the South-East and South-South zones do not need motorable roads just only for the yuletide, but roads that would be smooth and enduring.
Odimegwu Onwumere, Poet/Author, Media/Writing Consultant and Motivator, is the Coordinator, Concerned Non-Indigenes In Rivers State (CONIRIV); and Founder, Poet Against Child Abuse (PACA), Rivers State, Nigeria
Phone: +2348032552855 (OR) +2348057778358