The new Abia Government house: Abia PDP playing the ostrich



By Ogbonnaya Ikokwu

The unwarranted media onslaught against Gov. Alex Otti by the attack dogs of the Abia State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, led by the pair of Mr John Okiyi Kalu (a.k.a Nwandugbom) and Eze Chikamnayo (both former Commissioners of Information) paints a vivid picture of a people blinded by the agony of electoral defeat.
Like a drowning man, the Abia PDP is trying to clinch to any straw in the ocean to continue to pretend to exist by misinforming the public about the activities of the present Otti-led administration through propaganda, blatant falsehood and cheap blackmail.

Their new strategy of planting negative stories in privately-owned micro blogging sites based outside the state can aptly be described as playing the ostrich.

This they do because they know that Abia-based journalists would never accept to publish their propaganda and obvious lies and distorted facts, having known the true state of affairs in the state.

But the more these armchair critics churn out their lies against the Labour Party-led government in Abia, the more they continue to expose all the rots they left behind in the state before the eletorate sent them packing in the March 18, Governorship election.

In a recent report published in the Premium Times online news site, the PDP had accused Gov. Otti of abandoning a supposedly multi-billion naira goverment house in Umuahia, but prefer to operate from his private residence. But the fact remains that the so called “multi-billion naira completed new Goverment House” does not exist anywhere.

It is unfortunate that after 32 years of its creation, Abia is still grappling with a Goverment House project. This confirms that those who had led the state, especially in the last 24 years of unbroken democratic rule, placed less premium on the development of critical infrastructure in the state.

The Abia State Government House is currently located at Library Avenue and Akanu Ibam Road, Umuahia, the capital city. Both government and private properties on Okpara Avenue were acquired and converted to offices and lodges for running the state upon it’s creation on August 27, 1991. The facility has all offices required in a Government House, including The Governor’s Lodge and Office, a Presidential Lodge and a Banquet Hall for government’s official events.

It also accommodates the Deputy Governor’s Office and a Lodge, Office of the Secretary to the State Government, Accountant General’s Office, Chief of Staff’s Office and Lodge, the Office of the Head of Service, a Government House Chapel for religious activities and
security quarters for the Camp Commandant and other security agents.
Other offices within the Government House are the Protocol Office, Political Office Block and the Press Centre. But unconfirmed report has it that most of the buildings in the Government House are rented private properties.

It was based on the above premise that former Gov. Theodore Orji embarked on the construction of a new Government House at Ogurube Layout in Umuahia.

Orji had started the construction of a two-storey building that would serve as the Governor’s Logde, which he left uncompleted after roofing the structure.

His successor, Okezie Ikpeazu, did not do much on the project for almost his eight years in office even after several public commitments and promises to complete the building before leaving office. It was not until his last few months as governor, that he
hurriedly plastered and painted the structure and invited Gov. Seyi Makinde of Oyo State to inaugurate the project on May 28, 2023.

But a media tour of the so-called new Government House, conducted by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Kazie Uko, together with Heads of radio stations in the state on June 10, revealed that the project was inaugurated while it was uncompleted.

Videos and photos of the structure show that the ground floor was barely completed and sparcely furnished but the two upper floors were not completed.

The first and second floors were full of heaps of woods, no power supply, no furniture, no bed to serve as a lodge.

During his first media interaction with journalists, Gov. Otti has said that he will complete the Government House, when the income of the state improved.

“The Government House is completely dilapidated and it will cost a lot of money to fix.
Now, as a student of economics, I drew up my scale of preference and what is important to me is not to go and spend public money to retrofit the dilapidated Government House, if I do have somewhere to operate from.

“So, it is a later day priority. But for now, building roads, payment of salaries, retrofitting the hospitals, ensuring that businesses that were dying get back up, supporting the micro and small-scale businesses, setting up the industrial park that we have done a few hours ago – those are our priorities,”.

To say the least, any right thinking person in Abia State will agree with the governor that there are more pressing needs to be sorted out than fixing the Governor’s Lodge in Umuahia.

It is obvious that just as the governor’s logde is in need of rehabilitation, so are other goverment offices within the old government house, which the governor is gradually fixing one after the other.

Away from six roads already reconstructed and inaugurated by the governor in Aba, the commercial hub of the state, the Ossa-Okpara Square Road, which is the major entrance to Umuahia, as well as many other road projects are expected to be delivered before this year’s Christmas.

Another huge task waiting for the governor to handle before the end of December is meeting the deadline for off-setting the backlog of salaries and pensions owed to civil servants and pensioners by the outgone Ikpeazu’s administration.

In view of the huge financial burden on the shoulders of the Abia chief executive and his decision to prioritise workers’ welfare and building of infrastructure above his personal comfort, it is obvious that, if past leaders had made the same sacrifice, the state would have been much better than what it is today.

There’s no doubt that Gov. Otti will complete the new Government House given his penchant for solid infrastructure as demonstrated by the quality of jobs done at the commissioners’ quarters, political office block, protocol office, Emeka Omerua Government House Annex as well as the hospitals and roads so far reconstructed by his six-month-old administration.

#A new Abia is possible

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