By Chinenye Nwaogu
When in 2015 Okezie Ikpeazu PhD, took the mantle of office as the Governor of Abia State his first point of call was on the streets of Aba where he flagged off 7 roads for reconstruction. Any honest person who knew the state of those roads and what the experience was like will appreciate that for the first time in the history of Aba road reconstruction efforts, those roads have survived several cycles of rains and are still standing strong till today. While I do not bother with latter day populists who in failing in their primary responsibilities have found pointing accusing finger on the benevolent Governor their only escape from the harsh judgement of their constituents, the fact remains that Aba required a new kind of thinking and approach.
Ikpeazu explained to all and sundry that Aba’s topography required a new kind of engineering to ensure sustainability of road projects in that city called Aba. Remember, it was because of this same Aba that the late siege was labeled the weeping Governor. While I do not make excuses for past administration in Abia state, I am quite sure with benefit of hindsight that they too spent some money and resources to deal with Aba’s perennial infrastructural challenges.
For those who will recollect the trajectory of criticism around Aba it is usually worse during heavy raining seasons. So that is the point, Aba sits at the lowest point in terms of topography and will naturally experience heavy flooding whenever the rains are heavy. I had once inferred on a national TV during one of my outings on Channels TV that Aba requires special fund intervention beyond the capacity the current State’s financial status can carry.
There are over 4,000 roads in the city known as Aba, everyday Aba keeps expanding due to its prosperous commercial nature. Governor Ikpeazu has said it for the umpteenth time that while he didn’t promise to do everything, Aba and indeed Abia is not where it was in 2015 in terms of infrastructural outlook. Some measurable and commendable work has been done. One will remember with great relief the annual flooding around the gates of Ngwa High School, the unmotorable Ojike lane, the ever-flooded Milverton, the unmotorable trio of Ukegbu, Umuola, Ehere roads. Some roads that had trees at their centre today have become smooth and heavy with traffic.
The idea here is not to begin to mention all the road projects done in Aba, but to situate the arguments in their proper perspective. Some few elements now see vilifying Governor Ikpeazu as their only highway to popularity. This is absurd and unnecessary. The journey to a new Aba and Abia in general requires the constructive contribution of all and sundry and not just hauling of stones to the one person who daily toil to leave Abia better that he met it. Everyone with conscience will agree that the rating and status of Abia in our national scheme of things has grown commendably.
This Governor has brought many positive attention to Abia state particularly Aba. Those whose penchant to haul insults and paint very dangerous pictures of the situation in Aba only do so to satisfy other motives other than altruistic. They know it that Aba is looking better and is growing infrastructurally and is attracting more business now than before.
While I do not think the Governor wants everyone to pour encomium on his person, but the hew and cry looks like the proverbial tortoise who stayed long in a pit and on the day of rescue gave out the loudest cry. Solution is in sight, rebuilding Aba is not a day’s journey. Rebuilding Aba requires thorough planning, rigorous processes, proper analysis, to deal with the situation properly. I have asked this question severally, will anyone in good conscience dismiss some one with Governor Ikpeazu’s background who got his Ph.D. at the time he did and in the discipline he did as a frivolous person? I strongly believe, in his robust plans and strategy to deal frontally the infrastructural gaps in Aba, it is work in progress and it is moving on well.
The state of Aba waste management is one area many have also pointed out the need for more efforts, the truth is that discipline is required to have a clean city. I have made several stops and visited Kigali a number of times. Kigali is known as the cleanest city in Africa, there citizen’s behaviour and action contribute 90% of how clean the city looks. I remember the day I called out a lady disposing waste directly into the drain, many people including our most virulent critics came after me with so much venom, the truth is that residents of Aba have a big role to play in maintaining a clean environment. A situation where newly built roads are turned into mechanic workshops, car wash sites hours after commissioning is heart wrenching. Whilst it is civic duty to call out government where there are perceived lapses, it also trite to engage citizens in reorientation on such issues.
It may be proper to say that Governor Ikpeazu has made the most appreciable impact in improving the infrastructural upgrade of Aba under the current democratic dispensation and the reasons are very clear, he took time to study the terrain and he is following that plan meticulously. There may be one or two issues, but all were factored in.
Governor Ikpeazu is laying a solid foundation for Aba and anything built on this foundation will now stand unlike past experiences. Patience is key, clearer and proper understanding of the situation and the dynamics will be more helpful than hauling insults and the deliberate de-marketing of Aba which has become the pastime of certain individuals including elected public office holders who should know better. Politicians most times deliberately play to the gallery, people love optics but none of those are sustainable in the long run, only solid foundation survives.
Governor Ikpeazu’s interventions in Aba cannot be wished away no matter the level of campaign of calumny embarked upon by any person or group of persons, the real residents of Aba understand the fact that this Governor means well and is doing his level best within the available resources to give Aba good infrastructure. No doubt majority of those who have mounted the saddle of virulent criticism reside outside the shores of Aba, those who daily witness that improvements, whose business and trades are being improved on daily basis, appreciates the efforts of the hard-working Governor of Abia State.
Sometimes one wonders if it is this same Aba that has become the manufacturing floor the country and the region for some specific products. Is it this same Aba that has ENASCO now manufacturing shoes for major National MDAs, the same Aba producing young entrepreneurs who are hitting national stage and winning laurels. Is it this same Aba whose products have moved from derogatory to admiration. Aba has changed and is changing for the better.
Let us all join hands to build a strong and virile Aba, not necessarily pouring opprobrium on the administration that has put Abia on the national MSME hall of fame, making Aba the home of credible national and international award winners. The administration that brought the attention of global and national development institutions to support the redevelopment of Aba. For those who bellyache over the World Bank project, do they also know the rigorous work required to attract World Bank funding. Do they also know that to qualify for such huge investment, papers, procedures and processes were reviewed at the highest levels before approvals are given?
At the end the true Abians will overcome!
Chinenye Nwaogu, A Public Affairs Commentator, Wrote From Umuahia
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.