Celebrating the giant stride of Abia jinx breaker



By Ogbonnaya Ikokwu

The award of the contract for the reconstruction of the 30-kilometer Arochukwu-Ndi Okereke- Ozuabam Road has yet marked another milestone in the avowed determination of the Abia State Governor, Dr Alex Otti, to turn every part of the state into a viable economic hub.

The road leading to Arochukwu, a historic town in the state with many tourist sites, has been abandoned for several years, making it difficult for indigenes and visitors to move in and out of the town with ease.
Little wonder the popular saying that “there’s no easy route to Arochukwu”.

For several years, it was difficult to travel directly from Umuahia, the capital city, to Arochukwu without going through Ohafia Local Government or Ini Local Government Area (LGA) in Akwa Ibom State, while the shortest route to the ancient town, which is the headquarters of the Arochukwu LGA, remained deplorable.

Successive administrations in the state only paid lipservice to reconstructing the road with little or no tangible action.

The only achievement made by two former governors on the road was the construction of a short bridge over a stream in the Okobo axis of the road.

Many had wondered if the bridge was intended to serve as a helipad because there is no access to it from both ends of the road.

All the entreaties from indigenes of Arochukwu, Abam, Ihechiowa, Ututu and other well-meaning Nigerians to previous governors to fix the road fell on deaf ears, while the people continued to suffer from economic losses because of the lack of good road to take their agricultural produce to markets in the cities.

But help has finally come the way of the people of Arochukwu LGA, with the award of the strategic road by Gov. Otti to Glend Construction Company for reconstruction.

Speaking during the flag-off of the project at Amuvi Arochukwu, the governor said that his “administration’s overarching objective of embarking in rural road construction is to turn every community in the state into viable production centres, where those who seek jobs can find one and those who dream of setting up their independent empires will be given wings to fly”.

According to him, one of the most important commitments of the Labour Party (LP) led goverment is to improve the living condition of the people across rural and urban communities through the consistent removal of the many impediments that limit the capacity of individuals and businesses to function at their fullest potential.

He promised that no part of the state will be left behind in his administration’s push to expand the frontiers of economic and social opportunities for individuals, families and businesses.

“We understand that the cost of neglect of rural roads on the economy of the state, in terms of lost opportunities, cannot be quantified.

“Farmers in rural communities found it difficult to move their produce to the markets, leading to heavy post-harvest losses.

“Most painfully, businessmen and women from different parts of Nigeria and the West African sub-region, who had relied on markets in Abia for supplies, quickly took their patronage to other places.

“With business returns plummeting, several commercial entities that previously employed thousands of our people quietly closed shops or relocated.

“As a government that made a covenant to bring succour to the people after many years of frustrations, we knew that road construction, rehabilitation and maintenance must be made major priorities long before we took our oath of office.

“Starting with some of the most strategic roads in Aba and Umuahia, we are now expanding the scope to cover roads that connect our agricultural zones to the urban areas in order to boost the state’s agricultural output and expand our economic corridors to create jobs for thousands of our young people, while taming rural-urban migration,” the governor said.

He said: “The Arochukwu – Ndiokereke – Ozuabam Road will on completion in about 12 months revive the agricultural and allied ecosystem within several communities in Arochukwu and Ohafia LGAs and open an expanded window for those seeking to tap into the promises of the new Abia by investing here.

“Fixing this road simultaneously with the Umuahia – Uzuakoli -Abiriba – Ohafia Road is a strategic initiative to guarantee that a stretch of road from this axis is in optimal shape, making the movement of people, agro and allied communities from the northern part of the state to the urban centres.”

The Abia chief executive said that he had chosen experienced contractors to handle road construction in the state.

He also disclosed that talks were on to ensure that the Federal Government resumed work on the Umuahia – Bende – Ohafia – Arochukwu Road.

Some leaders from Arochukwu LGA, including the lawmaker representing Arochukwu State Constituency, Hon. Uchenna Okoro, the Mayor of Arochukwu LGA, Joe Ezearu, the Chairman, Abia State Council of Traditional Rulers, Eze Linus Nto Mbah, and Eze Aro, Eze Eberechukwu Oji, took turn to narrate how their people had suffered over the neglect of the road for a long time and thanked the governor for coming to their rescue.

In a related development, the governor on March 26, flagged-off the construction of the 11.5-Kilometer Nunya-Eluama Road in Isuikwuato LGA, with a firm promise to bridge the gap in development between the rural and urban areas of the state.

He said that on completion, the road would enable farmers access urban markets more efficiently.

He explained that while urban centres were essential for siting industries, the rural areas play a crucial role in agriculture and other allied businesses, adding that by investing in both urban and rural infrastructure, his government aimed to achieve even development across the state.

“The long abandoned Nunya-Eluama Road, which traverses communities, like the Umuebere, Umunnekwu, Amiyi Obinohia and Amaba, would on completion facilitate transportation of agricultural produce, enhance connectivity and economic development in the region.

“This project leads into our general strategy of opening up our rural communities for greater prosperity through quicker access to urban markets and increased investments, which ultimately would yield massive employment opportunities for thousands of our young people.

“While we are working very hard to restore the manufacturing glory of Aba and Umuahia, we are also conscious of the needs of our farmers in the rural areas.

“Our economic development programme is therefore structured to achieve balanced development across parts of the state. This is to effectively harness the comparative advantages of communities to improve the fortunes of individuals, families and businesses.

“For us, every part of the state is important in the new Abia project. Our plan is to steadily invest in public infrastructure for the purpose of making the communities economically viable and attractive to investors,” Gov. Otti said in a speech entitled, “Closing the Development Divide”.

In a remark, a former Chief of Army Staff, and an indigene of Isuikwuato, Lt.-Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika (rtd.), said that good governance was all about infrastructure development, security and promotion of the welfare of the people.

Ihejirika thanked the governor for redefining leadership in the state and, indeed, Nigeria.

In separate speeches, the member representing Isuikwuato State Constituency, Mr Lucky Udoka-Johnson and Mayor of Isuikwuato LGA, Chief Chiwendu Onyeike, thanked the governor for coming to their rescue.

They opined that when completed, the road would have multiplier effect on the economic well-being of the people.

The joy that has engulfed the communities that would benefit from the reconstruction of the dilapidated roads in Arochukwu and Isuikwuato LGAs stems from the fact that they have absolute confidence in the ability of Gov. Otti to deliver on his campaign promise.

The speed with which the construction companies are handling road projects under the present administration as well as deliverering them in record time speak volume about the fact that the era of flagging-off roads in elaborate ceremonies only to abandon them few weeks later is certainly over in Abia.

Expectedly, the governor would have made history as a jinx breaker when the Arochukwu-Ndi Okereke- Ozuabam Road as well as the Nunya-Eluama Road in Isuikwuato
are inaugurated in a year’s time.

Abians are indeed reaping the fruit of the wise decision they made by voting for LP in the 2023 governorship election.

Abia citizens and business owners are thus encouraged to pay their taxes with religious commitment via the multiple digital and traditional channels created by the government to make the payment of taxes and other statutory fees seamless to support the infrastructure development agenda of the administration.

#The New Abia is here
#To God be the Glory

Ogbonnaya Ikokwu, a journalist and public affairs analyst, writes from Umuahia.