By Chimezie Ozems
Aba is the heart of Igbo land. Whenever Aba sneezes, the rest of the South-East region catches cold. The popularity of the Enyimba city is the ingenuity of her people who have the ability of producing something out of nothing. And that’s why Aba is widely regarded as the capital of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SME’s).
Apart from occupying a prominent position in trade and commerce which are the backbone of the state economy, Aba also, has a history of resisting tyranny and oppression. It’s a known fact that the rebellion against British colonial rule started in the Enyimba city in 1929. That year, Aba Women confronted the oppressors by saying NO to the imposition of taxes. It happened at a time when other ethnic groups that formed the entity known today as Nigeria were still sleeping.
Things have not changed much in the present era. Aba people are aware that power comes out from the ballot box and not through the barrel of a gun. The people hardly engage in vote buying and will do everything possible to defend their votes. In the 2015 general election, the ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) almost lost the governorship election because of the attitude of the two previous administrations that governed the state. They unleasled their anger on the PDP not because of the quality of its gubernatorial candidate, but because both administrations paid scant attention to infrastructural development in Aba.
Although Nigeria was not at war with another country, but the roads in Aba were like those in war ravaged Somalia. Internal roads and those designated as federal roads were impassable particularly during the wet season. The situation worsened to the extent that lawyers in Aba under the ageis of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) protested against the poor state of roads in the Enyimba city. It was during the tenure of Mr. Charles Eduzo, who succeeded Uche Sunday Awa as Chairman of NBA, Aba.
The late Ossy Prestige (may his soul continue to rest in peace) who raised the bar in quality representation had to cross over to All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) from PDP and won the election to represent Aba North/South federal Constituency in the House of Representatives. He (Ossy Prestige) repeated that feat four years after due to his impressive performance. The voice of Aba people was constantly heard in the green chamber through the late federal lawmaker.
Most residents will agree with me that things are gradually and consistently changing in Aba particularly in the area of road infrastructure which is the oxygen that gives life to trade and commerce. Right from the outset, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu knew what was at stake and had to confront the major challenge facing Aba people. He knew that if he failed to perform, the Aba electorate would continue to vote for the opposition candidate.
Like the Godfather though he’s not a mafia don, Governor Ikpeazu made Aba people an offer they cannot refuse. An offer of good quality roads that will outlive his administration. Aba people reciprocated the gesture by voting for Chimaobi Ebisike, the candidate of the PDP in the bye-election held last Saturday. I have been wondering the magic Mr. Ebisike would have performed in order to win the election if Governor Ikpeazu didn’t embark on massive road reconstruction in Aba. It would have been easier for the proverbial Carmel to pass through the eye of a needle than for Ebisike to emerge victorious in the bye-election if the roads were still in poor condition. As the former Commissioner for Industries, Mrs. Uwaoma Olewengwa said in my interview with her before the election, “it’s difficult, if not impossible to rig an election in Aba”.
What happened last Saturday should serve as a lesson to any political office holder. When you embark on people-oriented projects, you are making things easier for your political party that gave you the platform to contest the election. More importantly, the bye-election showed that the era of lies and deceit which are perennial features of elections in Nigeria is gradually coming to end. The electorate will be singing your praises during electioneering because you have a deep pocket, but will cast their votes for the candidate of their choice on election day.
I will like to end this essay with an extract from a post election speech made by the Republican presidential candidate, the late Senator John MaCain after conceding defeat to Barrack Obama in the 2008 US presidential election.
“I don’t know what more we could have done to try to win this election. I will leave that for others to determine”, he said.
As for me, I don’t know what any of the candidates apart from the PDP candidate would have done to win last Saturday’s bye-election considering the transformation currently taking place in Aba.
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.