A certain 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 personal experience, though doubtful, was considered enough reason by the frustrated traveler to pour invectives on the hard working governor of Abia State, Chief Theodore 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 is 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 the 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 resides in Nigeria and whether 24-hour uninterrupted power supply had been achieved in that area.
If he is from Abia, 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 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 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 had stated that “a sudden heavy odour invaded our nostrils” on entering into Aba and visitors to the commercial nerve centre were usually treated to such offensive odours as a sign of welcome. One wonders if Igwe is actually in Aba of the present time or he is 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 in 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. 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 decentralised 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. 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 tried to paint, invariably, he would have encountered one security issue or the other since, according to him, he entered the city at night. 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 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 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 contribute meaningfully to the society.
From the second part of his mischievous article, it was so easy to Igwe’s myopic view on issues bordering on governance and the delivery of quality services to the people. In his display of ignorance he claimed that the success of any administration is measured by the provision of an 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.
The administration of Orji has not only provided conducive environment for the take-off of these projects but also provided land and other incentives.
-Ajunwa is Chief Press Secretary to Abia State Governor