Friday, April 27, 2012
Aba’s triumphant return
It poured, it rained, it thundered. It was mirthful, not of rainstorm, nor of cyclone, neither was it any in the nature and image of stormy-gale; but of encomiums, eulogies, thanksgiving and drumbeats of joy. It was boisterous but not tumultuous; it was simply spectacular.
The spontaneity of the joy expressed by the people as they danced and cheered was electrifying and totally disarming of even the stony heart of the sadist.
Date was Friday March 30. Venue was Aba, Enyimba City, the commercial nerve centre of the South-east Nigeria and the commercial capital of Abia State, God’s own State. Event was the commissioning of three important access routes within the Abia centre of commerce and a pedestrian bridge at the Abia Polytechnic, also in the city.
For a people whose environment had suffered criminal neglect in the hands of previous administrations, it was a new dawn with fresh breath; undoubtedly, they saw it as a visitation worth celebrating.
Roads and other infrastructure in Aba had dilapidated over the years because of lack of political will to fix them exhibited by past leaders of the state. As a result, the people resorted to vengeful ventilation whenever they set their eyes on those in governance, although in most cases such bitter outbursts were misplaced and misdirected at the innocent, who in no way contributed to their plight. A case in point was the ill-arranged and misguided outbursts of a hired crowd on Tuesday, February 28. It was clearly misplaced and wrongly directed at an innocent Governor, Chief T. A. Orji, who has been labouring to alleviate the sufferings of Aba residents who voted massively for him and President Goodluck Jonathan in the April 2011 general elections. The fact that the said projects were commissioned barely 30 days after the unfortunate incident was a vindication of the Abia State governor, as he has been working hard to improve the environmental condition of Aba. Conversely, it exposed the lies which detractors of the government had sold to the unsuspecting public.
The Aba wild wind was not restricted to those living within the locality. For instance in 1979, the late sage, Pa Obafemi Awolowo, left Aba in a hurry during his visit to the city on campaigns for his presidential ambition in the Second Republic, as the inhabitants of Aba hurled stones at the helicopter that brought him on that mission. So also was the late Chief Sam Onunaka Mbakwe booed in Aba during his tenure as governor of old Imo State which had present Abia State as part of it.
Aba residents, in apparent response to the abandonment their environment had suffered, engage in wanton aggression against those in governance once they show up in the city. So, those familiar with the trend hardly get overwhelmed by such hostilities whenever they manifest.
However, the situation in Aba is fast changing as Governor Theodore Orji’s transformation train has anchored in the Enyimba City to rehabilitate dilapidated roads and other infrastructure within the town.
The commissioning of the Ukwu mango road which residents of the town had almost forgotten it ever existed, is a reassuring step at letting the inhabitants of Aba know that Chief T. A. Orji is determined to depart from the deceptive steps of his predecessors who turned away from the city after making mouth-watering promises to the people. Equally commissioned on the said outing was Old Samek/Expressway road, as well as Danfodio/East road which brought forth expressions of great joy from the people.
The tremendous overflow of ecstasy that erupted from the students of Abia Polytechnic, on sighting Governor Orji’s convoy arrive in the school premises for the commissioning of the pedestrian bridge which his administration built across the road in front of their school, dwarfed those of the adults among whom were traditional rulers and members of the business community who had thronged the venue to receive their governor. The students praised him for saving their lives. They stated in their address of welcome that they lost four of their colleagues last year to fatal motor accidents while they tried to cross the ever busy Aba-Owerri road, across which the bridge now stands.
With the eloquent testimonies that poured out of honest hearts who are beneficiaries of those projects, one wonders why some of those who claim to love Abians would not turn away from their distractive antics and join hands with the sitting government to develop the state. Granted that opposition is needed is the presidential type of democracy Nigeria copied from the Americans, but it must be constructive opposition. When opposition drifts into defamation and blatant falsehood in order to deceive gullible minds, and score very cheap political points, it loses its essence.
For any politician to say that no developmental projects are on-going in Aba, even after the pomp that greeted the recent project-commissioning exercise, to say the least, amounts to delusion. I do not think that people should be so blinded by inordinate quests that they no longer recognize beauty when they see one. It is disheartening. However, I wish to advise such ill-motivated minds to consult students of Abia State Polytechnic, Aba, for proper education and guidance. The students drawn from various parts of the country, live in Aba, they know who has done them good. They are better placed to say it as it is.
A man of honour, one that has integrity, would always keep his promises irrespective of how daunting the challenges might be. Alexander Pope, said this of a “statesman, yet friend to truth, of soul sincere in action faithful and in honour clear. Who broke no promise, served no private end, who gained no title, and who lost no friend”. This clearly depicts the vision, degree of commitment and passion with which Governor T. A. Orji is approaching issues in the state. He is unrepentant in his resolve to rid Aba and other cities in the state of filth and ramshackle infrastructure especially bad roads.
It is pertinent to point out that rehabilitation works on some federal roads in Abia State, are being handled by the government of Abia State. The Aba-Owerri road; the turn-around and beautification of ever busy Osisioma; Port Harcourt road and the Aba-Port Harcourt Express way around Alaoji, all in Aba; they were in deplorable conditions with attendant traffic jams; today, they are pleasant access routes courtesy of the Abia State government.
In Umuahia, the Aba road which extends to Ubakala-Express Way junction is also a federal road. Work on it is nearing completion, courtesy of T. A. Orji’s administration.
Work on the building complex at the teaching hospital, as well as the edifice being erected at the Aba High Court, are among on-going numerous projects within the city of Aba that would be completed soon, barring interruptions by adverse weather. When completed, the 45km Obikabia- Umuoba-Aba road which cuts across four local government council areas, is another road project that would elicit tremendous joy from its users, following many years of its abandonment by past governments in the state, until Governor T.A. Orji, decided to embark on the on-going rehabilitation work.
Unfortunately, the coming of the rains has slowed down the speed of work at project sites within the Enyimba City and other parts of the state. It is hardly sensible engaging in construction works during the rains, as a result, contractors handling major projects have had to decelerate to prevent avoidable damages.
Residents of Aba and other cities in the state are advised to help desilt drainage channels within their places of abode to ensure smooth flow of water when it rains. It will compliment efforts of the state government at providing conducive environment for the good health of all.
• Iwuoha is Media Adviser to the Governor of Abia State.