A man who calls himself Uche Igwe had set out on a “regrettably long” journey from Port Harcourt to Aba and found himself trapped in traffic jam. According to him, the journey which would have lasted for less than an hour took him three hours! That doubtful personal experience was considered enough reason by the frustrated traveler to pour invectives on the hard working governor of Abia State, Chief T.A. Orji.
In an opinion article contemptuously entitled “The struggle to succeed failure in Abia State” published in two parts in The Punch editions of May 21 and 28, 2014, Igwe struggled very hard to denigrate the administration that has totally transformed Abia State in every sector.
Unfortunately for Igwe, he has ended up portraying himself as somebody who is not conscious of his environment. It was evident that he was on a journey to rubbish Abia by all means. Obviously he found himself in a difficult position executing the hatchet job he set out to do. Igwe cut a pitiful sight as he frantically searched for a foothold to launch his unwarranted attacks on the Abia Governor. Reading through the article one could see a confused mind rambling from the condition of Port Harcourt- Enugu federal highway and few roads in Aba to the succession race in Abia. In his own marking scheme for good governance, Igwe scored Abia Governor zero because half of Aba was in darkness when he allegedly entered the commercial city in the night of his journey. Is that enough reason to launch a ferocious diatribe on a governor whose performance is unprecedented in the history of Abia State? Igwe should have let the readers know where he is presently residing in Nigeria and whether 24-hour uninterrupted power supply has been achieved in that area.
If he is from Abia or has a modicum of common sense, Igwe should know that Aba is only a component part of Abia State. The commercial city fondly called Enyimba by its residents has been receiving adequate attention from the administration of Chief T.A. Orji. In the last one year, no fewer than 18 roads have been constructed or rehabilitated in Aba alone in line with the ongoing urban renewal project of the present administration. Igwe was blinded by his mercenary pecuniary interest to observe that Aba residents cry of flood during the rains. It was a perennial occurrence before the coming of Ochendo but with the opening of the drainages and removal of illegal structures blocking the waterways, Enyimba residents have been spared the seasonal agony they used to experience during the rainy season.
In order to embellish his mindset Igwe stated that “a sudden heavy odour invaded our nostrils” on entering into Aba and that visitors to the commercial nerve centre were usually treated to such offensive odours as a sign of welcome. One wonders if Igwe was actually in Aba of the present time or he was talking of Aba under the past administration. If he actually meant the present day Aba then something must be wrong with his nostrils and I invite him to visit the ultra modern Abia Specialist Hospital and Diagnostic Centre at Umuahia or Aba. I assure Igwe that medical experts would examine him to find out what is wrong with his nasal cavity and sense of smell for him to perceive past odours as if in the present. Perhaps Igwe’s condition could provide an interesting subject for medical research.
It is rather a big insult for residents of Aba to remind them of the environmental condition of their city before Ochendo came to their rescue by giving them a cleaner city to behold. Governor Orji made good environmental cleanliness an integral part of his urban renewal programme for Aba. It was for this reason that the Abia State Environmental Protection Agency (ASEPA) was decentralized and a deputy general manager was appointed and put in charge of Aba. Since his appointment as DGM, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu and his team at Aba have been working round the clock to keep Enyimba City clean and residents are highly appreciative of Ochendo for their new healthy environment. No matter how wide the imagination of people like Igwe may run the refuse heaps of the past would not return to Aba. The garbage dump on the centre of the road would forever be confined to the satanic imagination of Uche Igwe. Aba has since moved on from its ugly past.
The transformation of Aba is an ongoing project. There is no way the present administration can do it overnight given the competing demands and the limited resources available to government. There are other cities, urban and semi-urban areas in Aba yearning for attention as Ochendo moves to strike a balance on even development of the state. But even at that Aba has been accorded top priority because of its status as the industrial and commercial hub of Abia. Aba by every yardstick has evolved into a mega city over the years. And mega cities come with mega problems. The chief executive of Abia State is mindful of this and has been systematically tackling the mega problems of Aba. So contrary to Igwe’s warped opinion Aba has not been abandoned and will never be abandoned under the Ochendo administration.
If Aba is as bad as Igwe had strived to paint invariably he would have encountered one security issue or the other since according he entered the city at night under the cover of darkness. Yet he could not appreciate the fact that somebody made Aba very safe for him to engage in nocturnal rendezvous. He easily forgot or pretended not to know that the same Aba was blighted by a huge security challenge some few years back and it took the political will and sense of mission of His Excellency to extricate Enyimba city from the grip of kidnappers and other criminal elements. To Igwe that is failure. If Aba has decayed beyond redemption as he suggested how come that big firms are putting their money in Aba. Do investors go to places where there is no sanity? The administration of Ochendo has made Aba very conducive to attract investors. For instance, the Nigerian Breweries Plc has invested N15 billion to expand its Aba plant. Another brewery giant, Guinness Nigeria Plc has bought over Dubic Breweries in Aba. Certainly if Aba is a failed city a multi-national like Guinness would not have increased its investment in Enyimba to take over the production of Dubic beer. Today, the Osisioms depot that was moribund for many years is functional because of the hard work of Ochendo. Many youths who would have taken to vices are gainfully employed in the depot where they earn a living and contributing meaningfully to the society.
From the second part of his mischievous article, it was so easy to locate the myopic view of Uche on issues bordering on governance and the delivery of quality services to the people. In his display of crass ignorance he claimed that the success of any administration is measured by the provision of independent power plant. What a shame! Does it make economic and political sense for Abia State government to dabble into building of independent power plant when there are two of such projects in Aba alone? The Ala Oji Independent Power Plant (IPP) is ready and waiting to roll out. The private driven Geometric power plant at Osisioma in Aba is also waiting for inauguration. In all these, the Administration of Governor T.A. Orji has not only provided conducive environment for the take-off of these projects but also provided land and other incentives. Governor Orji constructed a virgin road leading to Geometric power plant as a mark of encouragement to the investors. This is because Ochendo loves Enyimba City and is desirous of making Aba an international industrial city. The Geometric power plant is a huge investment which has gulped over $460 million and has capacity to generate 141 megawatts of electricity. The chairman of Geometric and former Minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji, is upbeat about the positive impact the power plant would have on Aba and its residents.
He has already predicted that “the economy of Aba metropolis, which is the boundary of Umuahia and Aba to Imo River, will see a complete blossoming of industries – small, medium and large scale industries.”
People like Uche Igwe are doing a lot of harm to democratic governance by dishing out lies and blackmail to the unsuspecting public. What purpose does it serve him and his pay masters to insist that snow is black? Igwe would have done himself a lot of good if he has a sense of history. He would have known that Governor Orji did not inherit any infrastructure when he took over the governance of Abia in May 2007. But that did not deter him as he embarked on total transformation of the state. Abia was like building without any foundation. Governors had come and gone both military and democratically elected ones like the one dictating Igwe’s tune. But none of them had to wisdom to lay a solid foundation for the future growth of the state. Abia State Government House is a rented property while the state has no befitting secretariat to accommodate the ministries. The state capital, Umuahia was strangulated.
Uche Igwe did not write like somebody with sound knowledge of his subject matter: Abia. He has no idea what the recent history of Abia looked like. May be Igwe was in one of those tribal homelands in Afghanistan or was confined to the Soviet era labour camp in Siberia and lost touch with the outside world. If Igwe is sincere enough he should have known that Abia lacked the building blocks of development all these past years. But Governor Orji did not indulge in self pity. He did not engage in blame game. In fact, he does not even know how to play that self-defeatist game. Ochendo knows how to work. And he is working very hard to build a new Abia on a solid foundation for sustainable growth. He knows how to solve problems and how to overcome daunting challenge. That is why the deficits in infrastructure is receding at a fast pace. Today, the legacy projects of Governor T.A. Orji eloquently speak for his vision for his beloved state.
The people of Abia are happy because their governor has given them 710 health centres, two specialist hospitals with state of the art diagnostic centres, five completed and equipped 100-bed general hospitals at Ohafia, Arochukwu, Umuahia South, Osisioma and Ukwa West while eight others are under construction across the state. Governor Orji has built over 7, 000 stores in Umuahia modern Market at Ubani Ibeku and Industrial market at Ahiaeke Ndume are ultra modern markets to boost commerce. The newly built artisan market at Ohiya is booming. He is transforming the old primary and secondary schools to model schools, building roads across the state and set up an agency, the Abia State Road Maintenance Agency (ABROMA) to keep the existing road network in good shape all year round. Does a state like Abia not deserve a befitting government house and an international conference centre? Ochendo rightly thinks so and building them for God’s own state. Two blocks of four storey magnificent secretariats have been completed and many of the ministries have already moved into the beautiful edifices. Both the legislature and the judiciary have witnessed tremendous infrastructural transformation. Several housing estates have sprung up under the Ochendo administration. Sadly, Uche Igwe’s antiquated mind has prevented him from appreciating the correlation between good working environment and high productivity. If he is moving with the time he won’t be castigating Governor Orji for building a new government house and a new secretariat.
Contrary to Uche Igwe’s diatribe Abia is a huge success in democratic governance. Ochendo has done so much that whoever would succeed him would definitely inherit a solid infrastructural base. The governor that would take over from Ochendo would have fewer burdens because the foundation has been laid for the person to build on. Governor Orji did not enjoy such luxury because his predecessor left nothing for him to build on. He started from the scratch and vowed he would not want his successor to encounter the same problem hence his tireless efforts to transform every facet of Abia economy. Governor Orji would bequeath a peaceful state to his successor even though he inherited a state in rancor due to the divisive and nepotistic policy of the past administration.
Whoever would succeed Governor Orji on May 29, 2015 would inherit a well organized economy with enhanced internally generated revenue (IGR) profile and a workforce that is happy and highly motivated for optimum productivity. Ochendo has taken governance to a standard that is unprecedented in the history of Abia. His score card is so impressive and intimidating that Abians are now fretting over the kind of person that would preside over their affairs after T.A. Orji. They don’t want their beloved God’s Own State to enter into reverse gear after the Ochendo acceleration. Good enough all the gubernatorial aspirants are conscious of this collective expectation and have been promising to sustain the good legacy of Ochendo.
Ajunwa is Chief Press Secretary to Abia State Governor