By Odimegwu Onwumere
The area has been forgotten for close to 8yrs. Yet, they still remain law abiding citizens upon that they are left to man the affairs of their area. Since Governor Theodore Ahamefule Orji of Abia State came to power in 2007, the state has been a shadow of its old self.
At Ehere in Aba area of Abia State, the tenants and adjourning kindred around are contributing money immensely in making sure that they have the popular Aba-Ikot-Ekpene Road that has been forgotten by the Abia State Government repaired. The aim of the tenants is to start repairs from the well-damaged Opobo Junction to Ehere market.
They believed that their adventure would help people to have easy access roads and, at least, boost the image of the modern market in Obi-Ngwa and make the tenants not to be relocating to other perceived safe places outside the state. Desmond Uko, a tenant in one of the streets told this reporter, as the reason the tenants are bent on repairing the surrounding roads.
It’s being wondered that a state government that was unable to provide entrée roads for its citizens is today mouthing of building a seaport in the state. The media has been inundated with the noise of the seaport project for two years now. The government has informed the general public that it is going to source for fund from the Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) initiative.
The Abia State Government does not end at that, it has also been telling the world of its plan to build airport as well. It also has told the world that it was going to build monorail. This titular monorail project by the government took part of the activities of the media three years ago. Yet, there is no sign of such project in sight in the state.
After presenting the state’s 2014 Appropriation Bill to the House of Assembly on Monday December 30 2013, Gov. T.A Orji told onlookers that his intention was to start the projects, but not to complete them.
“I will not tell you that I must complete them because they are capital intensive but the two projects are vital to the economy of the state and I know that the incoming government will not abandon them. The important thing is for me to commence them because they are important to the state,” he had said.
Looking for the sites of the projects that the governor has told the House of Assembly that he would start but would not complete, a resident of Aba decided to take the writer on a fact finding around the city of Aba. Thinking that they were heading to one of the sites of the projects, the resident who simply gave his name as Chidi, said to the reporter while they were in a hired tricycle popular called Keke NAPEP that Gov. Orji has a lot of ‘seaports’ in the area.
On getting to one of the ‘seaports’, Chidi told the reporter that a radio station in the state has always listed them and, they include: “Ariaria Market, Omenazu, the newly Ochendo commissioned ‘Seaport’ at Akalanna, a larger one is at Ohanku Road and many more…”
It was a hilarious truth that what Chidi meant by ‘Abia Seaports’ are gullies that dot the surroundings of the state, due to the government negligence to its responsibilities. He wondered that if the media of nowadays have ethics how could pressmen account for projects that do not exist in the state and inform the people that they have been completed by the swaggering Abia State Government.
“Do media in Nigeria have ethics? If yes, why would they account for the several uncompleted projects in Abia State, whereas when you visit the locations, you won’t find anything of such,” Chidi decried.
Another man who gave his name as Williams said that his worry is the Achara-Ihechiowa Road. Williams said: “I can authoritatively tell you that the Achara-Ihechiowa Road has been awarded for about five years now to one company known as Worldwide Environmental Technologies and the company showed presence at the early time the contract was awarded and no one saw it working on that road again.”
Williams added that the company might be one of the alleged companies owned by the governor that the state’s contracts of all sorts are awarded to. The companies were given as (1) NGAME NIG. LTD is allegedly (working for the wife); (2) GLANO CONSTRUCTION is allegedly (owned by his brother in law); (3) CIREO NIG. LTD is allegedly (owned by his in law);
(4) BENICOUX NIG. LTD, allegedly, bought Empire Hotel as BENIS HOTELS and allegedly (siphoning for Governor and Son- ikuku); (5) OKEY TECHNICAL LTD is allegedly (milking ASEPA for Orji’s Son, Ikuku);
(6) SPRING INVEST AND PROPERTY CO. LTD, is allegedly furnished the Governor’s office with 56 million naira; (7) CHARBEL LTD, is allegedly (Lebanese constructing the conference centre and working for the Son, Ikuku); (8) NEW IDEA, is allegedly (the master agent of siphoning); and (9) SEAMARK ELECT. CO. LTD is allegedly (Son’s).
The pains of the people are felt on their faces. At the front of Terminus Fries, Aba-Owerri Road, the story is the same, as the conspicuous pot holes on both lanes cause serious traffic jams. This has been happening for years now and the roads are dividing at the middle as a result of that.
Investigation revealed that Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State who is known as a true governor of his people has repaired a part of the Ikot-Ekpene Road in his state, but his counterpart in Abia is busy with his alias – Ochendo Global – without any hope for the people that he will do his part as Akpabio has done.
“Today, traders hardly come to Aba to buy their wares. Traders from Akwa Ibom that happen to be our neighbours prefer going to Onitsha to transact business, due to the deplorable conditions of the roads in Aba, but especially that of Ikot-Ekpene Road. They follow Ikot-Ekpene-Umuahia Road and then, take a turn to Mbano to Nkwere to Ihiala to Onitsha expressway,” lamented Williams.
No doubt, people are taking flight from Abia State to other states where there are perceived government presences. Apart from Achara Ihechiowa, the deplorable condition of Okpurukpu and Amafia-Amaetiti roads in Arochukwu local government area of Abia State are better imagined than experienced.
Achara-Ihechiowa Ring Road has divided into two due to rainfall, which has aided the unpardonable condition of the road. This anomaly has provided untoward job for commercial motorcyclists popularly called ‘Okada’, who now charge as high as N5, 000 for a trip, across the road.
The irony of it all is that many of the so-called prominent people come from some of these areas. The late Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Dr Nneukwu Ukoha warmheartedly called ‘Razor’, came from this area. Although, he reportedly died just-about five months, after his appointment, of outlandish illness.
“At a state burial in his honour, government promised to embark on immediate construction of Achara-Ihechiowa road,” Okaula Njoke, a community leader, had told newsmen that the promise made had not been fulfilled by government.
“Njoke continued that the community wrote to the government through the office of Secretary to the State Government to remind them of their plight. He also explained that authorities at Arochukwu local government area had not responded to their letters and complaints on the erosion issue.
“Government was reported to have announced on Broadcasting Cooperation of Abia State (BCA) that the road was on the list of roads constructed by past administration. The newsmen, however, learned that government was being economical with the truth in its reactions to the erosion issue and the Achara road debacle,” Sunday Trust had reported.
It was gathered that what the government does was to mount sign posts on the awarded roads to be reconstructed, creating the impression that the roads have been duly constructed. According to a source, one elder Nnenna Kalu Uduma of Okpa Secondary School said: “Government even telecast that Okpurukpue Achara Ihechiowa road has been constructed. We were surprised….We petitioned, petitioned and petitioned but nothing happened.”
Odimegwu Onwumere, a Poet/Writer, writes from Rivers State.