Operation See Projects: Why Gov Ikpeazu Will Not Deliver New Govt House…Plus All You Need To Know On Why Abia Govt House Project Was Abandoned

Operation See Projects: Why Gov Ikpeazu Will Not Deliver New Govt House…Plus All You Need To Know On Why Abia Govt House Project Was Abandoned

E-X-P-L-O-S-I-V-E

As the tenure of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu remains 464 days to expire, many Abians and indeed Nigerians are wondering why the Abia governor from Umuobiakwa, Obingwa LGA (Abia South) of Abia State, has decided to go in the way of his predecessors, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu and Senator Theodore Orji without building a Government House, the seat of power before quitting.

For now, the Abia seat of power is on a rented building or so it seems. A detailed investigation conducted by our Reporter on the absence of a suitable Government House in Umuahia, the state capital, shows that many people are angry with Ikpeazu, elected on the equity principle, for doing “very little” to realize the Government House project located in Ogurube layout, a burgeoning axis of Umuahia motropolis after nearly seven years in office.

Currently, the present seat of power for Abia, God’s Own State, is owned by an individual, late Air Commodore Sampson Emeka Omeruah, an indigene of Nnono, Oboro in Ikwuano LGA of Abia State. Before his demise on December 6, 2006, Emeruah was a former Military Governor of Old Anambra and three time Minister including Information and Sports. The Witness Magazine found out that should Emeka Omeruah’s family decides to kick all ocupants of this Abia seat of power out of that place, it (the family) won’t have any thing holding it back; legally, emotionally, morally, culturally and spiritually.

On August 28, 1991, 24 hours after the creation of Abia State from the Old Imo State, the first Military Administrator, Group Captain Frank Ajobena began the administration of the new Abia State from the Douglas House, Owerri, the seat of power of Imo State. This is shortly after he was sworn in in Abuja by the Military President Ibrahim Babangida, then the Head of State.

Ajobena, with some Abia elders and top officials of his government approached Omeruah, who had then resumed duties at the Air Force Headquarters after serving as Military Governor of Old Anambra State, to surrender his house located at Library Avenue in GRA, Umuahia (the present Government House) for rentage. This, according to our investigations, came following the refusal of Chief Ibeto to sell or lease his house at Azikiwe Road to the new administration for a new seat of power.

Omeruah, it was revealed, gladly obliged, resulting to massive rehabilitation, reclamation and expansion its surroundings, including the gullies sited some metres away. However, it was not immediately clear the nature of the agreement reached with Omeruah, but our sources said some papers were signed and that Omeruah was allocated a bungalow beside the frontage of the present Government House, Umuahia as palliative, pending when the government would release his building.

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Frank Ajobena, in his wisdom, used the opportunity of the vicinity of Omeruah’s house to convert the nearby Library Avenue Primary School to offices. The present office of Secretary to the State Government (SSG) and Head of Service (HoS), the twin offices that rolled out government’s policies  then were allocated the offices. The primary school field then was converted to an auditorium named after the late sage, Dr Michael Okpara. And with this, his government began in earnest.

However, despite the efforts of the Ajobena to construct positively the state, subsequent administrations both military and democratic have continued to smear the Ajobena’s lagacies with mud. The vexatious aspect of it , according to our sources, is that of the civilian governments of Orji Uzor Kalu, Theodore Orji and Okezie Ikpeazu. They failed woefully to build a befitting Government House for Abia State.

Orji pretended that there was no need to build a Government House in Umuahia and so failed to build one throughout the duration of his governorship. T A Orji, the son of the soil, made an ephemeral attempt that was not backed up with any political will, while Okezie Ikpeazu virtually relocated to the Abia Lodge in Aba to conduct government business from there. Indeed, he attends government functions in Umuahia sometimes from Aba.

It was T A Orji that acquired the site for the present Government House project in Ogurube Layout from Okwuta Community, whose construction has been stalled. When our Reporter visited there, the place was overgrown by weeds as some buildings in the place (particularly one of the upstairs) are seriously dilapidated, a situation the Okwuta people frown at and are demanding a return of their land. The place is indeed desolate.

“If they don’t want to build the project which we happily surrendered to them anymore, then they should return the land”, the President General of Okwuta Development Union, Chief Anthony Chima told our Reporter. Though, he acknowledged that the community has had no qualms with the government over the acquisition of the land, “but we’re worried that our goodwill and good intentions in donating the land to government are being defeated”.

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Our Reporter visited the site and found out that the place could be a base for undesirable elements as terrorists or kidnappers could take advantage of the bushy serenity to inhabit and carry out their some nefarious acts on the surrounding community and government agencies like the Commissioners quarters, Central Bank of Bank (CBN), State Secretariat, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC); all located within the vicinity. They could be soft target and major casualties.

It was found out that a group Fulani herders graze their cattle unchallenged in and around the vicinity, as the Day and Night Guards employed by the construction firm, chatted with the herders heartily when our Reporter visited there, a situation the Okwuta President General complained bitterly about.

“If you go there, you’ll discover that Fulani herdsmen have taken over the place and use there to graze their cattle and in the process, destroy our crops in our farms nearby. Let the government restart the project and not only the government, individuals that were allotted lands there should develop and live in them immediately to forestall any security breakdown”, he added.

Our source disclosed that the sum of N4billion was obtained from a commercial to build the project with an interest rate of 15percent and that both the amount and the interest have been paid without the project nearing 30 percent completion. Who embezzled the amount is now the subject of discussion, query and worry in some informed quarters. Could it be why the project is stalled? Many are asking.

A well educated indigene of Okwuta who prefers anonymity “because I don’t want to be sent to the world beyond”, said there was a lot of frauds concerning that projects, “however, we, the Okwuta people accepted what they gave to us in good faith just to ensure that development comes to our area. They gave us 35 plots of land as compensation and we said, okay, ‘let’s accept them like that’ but despite our compromise, they‘ve not done any visible thing to show seriousness”

Another indigene who also preferred anonymity informed us “I worked there as a labourer until one day, the contractor came and told us to stop coming to work because he has not been paid. That’s how they sent us away”. Similarly, his kinsman retorted, “I went there recently to look for a job and the person I saw in the site asked me ‘did you see anybody here’, I left. Please, if work resumes, it’ll give a lot of us jobs”, he submitted.

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On creation of employmeny, at the site, both the President General and the educated man who possesses a PhD in their separate interviews with our Reporter at different dates, asked the state government  to resume the building of the Government House project forthwith, saying that “the agreement the Okwuta people reached with the Abia State government under Senator T A Orji was that when the Government House comes into full swing, the government will offer employment to our teeming youths” as the catchment area.

“The youths are becoming restive every day because their only source of revenue earning is tricycle riding. We’ve been trying to tame them, so the government should come in and do the needful”, Chima declared.

But the well informed man, who said he has in his possession documents on the land deal which he described as “very vast”, however declined to present them to the Reporter. “I’ll present them to you, but I’ll do so at the appropriate time”.

At Nnono Oboro in Ikwuano, the home of the Omeruahs, our Reporter was told that the widow of Commodore Emeka Omeruah is not based at home. None of his kinsmen could say anything about the House Government deal or whether the government still pays rent to the Omeruahs or not. The late Omeruah’s daughter, Chioma, could not be reached to say how or where her mother could be contacted.

End

Note: Operation See Projects is an assessment programme embarked upon by thewitness magazine to ascertain the projects built by public officeholders both elected and appointed across the nation, particularly in Abia State in the past 8 years and to make out the impact of the projects on the people supposedly the beneficiaries.   

The people are the ones to say it the way it is.

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Contact: Hon uche nwosu – 08035766615

Uche Nwosu is a two time Shell Petroleum PLC award winner in the year 2000;
He won the Shell Award on Investigative Journalism and Environmental Cleanliness.

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