Twisting the Facts on Abia, By Chinyemike Torti

Abia State Governor, Theodore Orji

For some time now, the pages of tabloids and online blogs have been sullied with materials from a self-acclaimed  ‘poet’ and ‘author’ trying to defend  the interest of an expired political lineage that ravaged and pillaged God’s own state for close to 11 years until the incumbent Governor, Chief Theodore Orji, liberated it from their grip.

At the drop of a hat, Mr. Odimegwu Onwumere, somersaults in the mud- waxing lyrical about the imagined virtues of his paymaster- the poster boy of toxic poison in the Nigerian politics.

His recent write up disparaging the administration of Orji, published in THISDAY of June 11, is one of the examples of his attempts to serve the interest of his paymaster and should be condemned by genuine stakeholders in the Abia project. However, this article is to situate the situation in Abia State in true perspective, free of misrepresentation and wishy-washy rhetoric.

In his piece, Onwumere struggled unsuccessfully to unleash fabrication on the magnitude and impact of Abia infrastructural development and dividends of democracy. He went further to conjure some phantom, beer parlour tales about a suffering citizenry, illegal taxes and fees paid by some school pupils in Umuocham Aba, unpaid salaries etc.

We, therefore, urge that all the spurious allegations about the governor should be consigned to the trash can.

The achievements of Orji, in all sectors of the Abia economy, are self-evident, to the critical mass of Ndi Abia. However, we make bold to invite third party, non-partisan members of the civil society

to an all expenses paid facility tour to verify the authenticity of projects already inaugurated and those in progress in agriculture, education, health, infrastructure, transport, security, energy etc.

Recall that the Minister of Information, Hon Labaran Maku, recently visited Abia on the good governance facility tour, wherein Abia was rated as a numero uno state.

The governor, as a loyal steward to Abians, has taken a holistic, pragmatic, integrated and all embracing development agenda, especially in the areas of infrastructure provision. All the federal roads that cross cut into the state, including township roads, are being worked on by contractors.

The magnitude of civil works currently going on at Aba is a clear manifestation of the governor’s determination to give Abia an entirely new face. Samplers: Ekeakpara road in Osisioma, Geometric Power Plant access road, Georges street, Milverton Avenue, SAMEK road, Dan Fodio road, Ukaegbu road, Azikiwe road, Ukwu Mango by Ariaria road, Express road, Aba-Owerri road, etc.

Outside the Aba inner city roads, we have Ogbor Hill-Omoba, Obikabia,Ohanku roads in Abia south, Ovim-Acha-Isiukwuato, Nunya, Eluama, Abiriba-Nkporo in Abia North and Amoba Nnono Oboro, dualisation of Ubakala-Old Umuahia road, Afugiri, Mbawsi Ntigha all in the Central zone.

All these roads were inaugurated in the presence of notable personalities and stakeholders like Eze Ikonne, Uwakwe Ukaegbu, and the Abia Polytechnic Rector, Elder Onukaogu. Alongside these roads are

drainages that will protect the roads from flooding and water logging.

Outside the feat in Aba, Orji is delivering a 10-kilometre road for every of the 17 local government areas in Abia. That translates to 170 kilometres of roads. Within a space of two years, 52

roads have been completed. And these are all verifiable.

The breathtaking transformation at Ogurube layout, in Umuaha- a hitherto barren and bushy terrain to a glitzy neighbourhood accommodating, the International Conference Centre; the new complex of the Abia House of Assembly; the new quarters for Commissioners; the 54 room BCA complex; the new Government House (landscaped for construction); ASUPA complex completed and inaugurated.

Still on infrastructure, the new Industrial  Market Ahiake, was completed and inaugurated barely a fortnight ago, by the Speaker, House of Representative, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal; the new Ultra –modern market, Ubani Ibeku, Umuahia is 70 per cent complete. The Aba High Court office complex and that of its opposite number in Umuahia is near completion.

Time and space constraints will not permit a full disclosure of all the dividends of democracy but it is important to mention that in the health sector, the governor has laid a solid template for sustainable growth.

For instance, government has collaborated with an Indian health company, MECURE in the building of global standard diagnostic centres in Aba and Umuahia. These facilities are configured with their overseas facility and surgical operations are done through satellite links.

With MECURE, there is no type of disease that cannot be diagnosed. All the expensive visits to England, U.S.A., India and China for medical treatments are over.  Since the diagnostic centres commenced operation in the state, it has become a Mecca for medical tourism, as patients countrywide have been patronising the diagnostic centres for their various health challenges and have been pleased, with the quality of services received. Two hundred and fifty health centres have been built and inaugurated in all nooks and crannies of the state.

Just last week, the Amachara Umuahia Specialist Hospital diagnostic centre with a fully equipped chest clinic was inaugurated by the governor. Other sectors like housing show the Orji imprimatur, vide the Amokwe-Ugba housing Estate, completed and occupied.

Works-in-progress include NIPP housing estate, Ukwa east, SHOPRITE Shopping Mall at located at old Garki –Amuzukwu, modern library at Ogurube layout and modern abattoir at Umuobe-Ovom.

Agriculture has received a big boost through the multifarious regular training, seminars including field farmers’ course as well as providing extension services. Government through the Ministry of Agriculture acquired 55 tractors that are deployed to farms in the state.

Orji has recently signed the Irrevocable Standing Payment Order (ISPO) to grant Abia farmers access to the N1billion commercial agriculture loan. The hitherto moribund rubber estate at Ndi Oji Abam has been reactivated employing over 2500 youths.

Already, Abia palm and Nkporo Oil palm are firing on all four cylinders. In the same vein, a Malaysian company, M/S Sime Darby, has indicated its interest to invest about $4 million dollars. The Orji administration has also established mega farms tagged Liberation Farms across the 17 LGAs creating 4000 jobs.

Need we say more? Yes, Orji must be given a standing ovation for tackling the security situation that went haywire some years ago. Recall that, Abia not too long ago, was a byword for kidnapping, stagnation, confrontation and divisions along various ethnic dichotomies, youth restiveness, killings, thuggery and mayhem. That is now history. The Abia security template is being acknowledged and hailed nationally and worldwide.

Abia is today one of the safest states in the country. The nitty-gritty of the security architecture cannot be disclosed openly, but one of the essential ingredients of this formula is the youth empowerment schemes through sports and donation of vehicles and other self employment tools and equipment.

It boggles the mind that any reasonable person would pour cold water as Onwumere sought to do. It is only the pig-headed that will not appreciate the trickle down economic benefits of this initiative. Who says graduates cannot drive taxis?

Today, PhD holders are tooling around, applying to drive Dangote cement trucks. Orji’s administration has gone beyond the call of duty, to restore the pristine value of education for which Abians were leading lights. He has robustly upgraded the quality of education by instituting and providing the necessary facilities.

Through the State Education Management Board and the Abia State Universal Basic Education Board (ASUBEB) government has built and equipped several classroom blocks as well as renovation of schools and colleges. Due to limited editorial space, an exhaustive resume is not possible. But be it as it may, it is on record that free tuition is the norm. Since 2008, over 1000 Abia students in tertiary institutions enjoy bursary awards.

With a good number enjoying scholarships, the hocus pocus about illegal levies and fees in Umuocham school is a product of his warped imagination. Orji as a consummate and thorough bred statesman has always extended an olive branch to and welcomed the opposition for an inclusive and anti-exclusionary ideal government that will move Abia forward.

According to the governor, everyone is welcomed; nothing is unimportant, and no one is insubstantial. The pivotal role of critics, pressure and interest groups is a magna carta enshrined in all constitutional democracies worldwide, as they enliven the market place of ideas, debates and well thought-out alternative policy options to governance.

Orji exhorts that our language of discourse should be bereft of verbiage, barefaced falsehood, puerile propaganda, unwholesome and inflammatory utterances, reminiscent of the bourbons that never seemed to learn from the lessons of history.

Problems that call for clear-headed and strategic thinking should not be reduced to a pedestrian level of discourse that could undermine the integrity and security of the state. Activists should elevate arguments to a moral high ground and not pettifogging issues like name-calling.

Torti is a management consultant and public policy analyst

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