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Thursday, 17 October 2013

A Microcosm of Abia's Political and Developmental Macrocosm


By Ekekwe Egu
LET me confess that my choice of title for this piece, which in any case is my first in a long while, sounds weird. Having opted for a political and activity hibernation of sort, in the past few years, not a few would have expected me to debut from my self-imposed holiday, smoking with rage, and breathing furiously, vintage OTJ. But time and tide have changed with so many factors contributing to my simmering rather than combative approach in writing. I shall return to that later.

Secondly as one who even as an under-aged, cut his political teeth during the Second Republic, when such colourful politicians as Dr. K. O. Mbadiwe, Dim Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Dr. M. I. Okpara and Chief Collins Obih (all of blessed memory), held sway in the old Imo and Anambra states, now South East geo-political zone, I underwent tutelage of sort under this great wordsmiths; men who elevated intellectual and factual politicking, laced with flowery clich├ęs and euphemisms, that added so much colour and humor to our socio-political environment and lexicon.

In line with the above, Ochendolopment, my crazy manipulation, was coined to describe my assessment of the infrastructural and developmental progressions, given obvious economic constraints in Abia State. It is a critical evaluation of the application of the available limited funds and rates of success achieved, within a given time frame. In this piece, I will attempt an insight into the actual rate of development in Abia within this second and last segment (2011 to date), of the present Abia Government. I have also elected to ignore the period 2007-2011, variously described and rightly so, as the years of the locust. In so doing, one will draw inferences from and make comparative analysis of the earnings accruing to some of our neighboring states, alongside Abia. I shall also base my assessment on four major sectors viz: General Infrastructural Developments, Power Generation and Security.

One person whose courage I admire a lot, Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, cried out recently that only N14billion out of about N21billion accruing to his State, has been released for the month of July. Since that assertion remained un-replied even from the appropriate quarters, it stands therefore to reason that our dear Oluwarotimi was right that his State allocation for July was about N21billion. Within this period, the total that aggregated to Abia was about N4 billion. Succinctly put, the ratio between Abia and Rivers allocation is 1:5.

We have it on good authority that Akwa Ibom State earns much higher than its Rivers counterpart. It therefore stands to reason that the developmental efforts in these two states that share common boundary with Abia, cannot be compared with the latter, given their accrued earnings overtime. Howbeit, like the saying in Igboland goes, Ana eji isii ahu amata uto nshi: (translated: You can deduce the real taste of faeces from the foul smell of a fart).

The Bible equally place faithfulness in little assignment as a sign of what one can do with bigger assignment, if and when such is given. With the much the Governor has achieved with the little resources available to him, it stand to reason that if he receives half of what is accruable to Akwa Ibom, he will perform more. Whilst not stating that Abia is today an Eldorado, as that will be unnecessarily sycophantic, but it smacks of bad faith to ascribe nothing positive to the present government, especially in the area of provision of lasting and durable infrastructures.

Umuahia Capital and the indeed the State have of recent witnessed an upswing in infrastructures, viz: The Construction of a new Government House, a new Deputy Governors Lodge, International Conference Centre , new Secretariat Complex and remodeling of the old ones, several housing estates, the Ubani Umuahia Modern Market which is 95% completed, Judiciary and New High Court Complex at both Umuahia and Aba, ASEPA New Headquarters, the Umuahia Specialist Hospital and Dialysis Centre, the reconstruction of Amachara Specialist Hospital, several urban and rural roads at the three senatorial zones of the state amongst others.

One might argue that these are basic infrastructural edifices needed for the take off of the State, but these had been lacking in the past 22 years. With a few exceptions, all other successive governments, to say the least, have been retarding development of the State.
When early last year, I wrote commending the Orji -led Government for a breakthrough checkmating the perennial power supply in the state, not a few arm-chair critics attacked me, both on phone and on the social media.
Few months after, all these areas, including my Item, Bende Local Government Area homeland were re-connected to the national grid. Abians and Nigerians can indeed attest to the fact of the further success recorded in this sector, and equally on the aptness of my prediction. When truth is self evident and facts are so glaring, one need not adumbrate. It is only a matter of weeks that the Aba project under Geometrix will be commissioned. That way the light condition in Aba, and the entire Abia will be fully restored. Yes, it can only get better and better.

Insecurity has posed the greatest challenge in the country. In recent time, the menaces of kidnappers and Boko Haram have assumed an alarming proportion. Abia was a notorious case in point. Kidnappers under the inglorious leadership of the notorious Osisikankwu, had a field day taking people hostage for ransoms. Sometimes people were killed even after huge ransoms were paid.

It reached a climax with the abduction of the kind-hearted medical and legendary generous doctor of Victory Christian Hospital, Aba, who was kidnapped and brutally murdered somewhere in Isiala Ngwa, even after huge sums of money were reportedly paid as ransom. The outrage that greeted his murder was unprecedented. It was obvious that something needed to happen.

The synergy between the Abia Governmant and the Security High Chiefs, notably the Chief of army Staff, led to the arrest and killing of the murderous OSISIKANKWU gang, and the dispersal of the few remaining ones. Abia State citizens now live in peace amongst themselves. It was in recognition of these and the above, that Governor Theodore Orji, received an International Award in October 2012, for ensuring Adequate Security in Abia.

The most unfortunate aspect of it all was that Abia was a state that produced three high level security personnel, in the Army and the Police Force. Lt General Azubuike Ihejirika, the Chief of Army Staff, Ivy Okoronkwo, the then Deputy Inspector General of Police and politically Second In Command, while Azubuko Joel Udah, the then Deputy Inspector General of Police, in Charge of Administration and Operationally Number Two, were all from Abia State. Was it a failure on their part or was it a lack of idea on how to solve the perennial Abia Security Challenge.

Given that the DIG Udah, (now retired), as the Head of the Police Zones 5 and 6, was widely believed to be behind the blueprint of the Amnesty Programme in the Niger Delta region, it was almost impossible to toe that line of thought. It took the political will and sagacity of the Ochendo led Government in Abia, coupled with the tenacity and the determination of the Security High Chiefs of Abia state extraction, to proactively restore sanity and security in Abia State.

The synergy between the Abia Governmant and the Security High Chiefs, notably the Chief of army Staff, led to the arrest and killing of the murderous OSISIKANKWU gang, and the dispersal of the few remaining ones. Abia State citizens now live in peace amongst themselves. It was in recognition of these and the above, that Governor Theodore Orji, received an International Award in October 2012, for ensuring Adequate Security in Abia.

Ekekwe Egu, a public affairs commentator sent in this piece from Abuja.

SOURCE: VANGUARD

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