Abia and bloggers’ visitation

By admin on 24/11/2014

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Abia State Governor, Theodore Orji, recently took an opportunity to explain his governance of the state during his interaction with bloggers and social media influencers.

 

A great number of young people were at the Banquet Hall of Abia State Government House on Thursday, November 13, 2014, to listen to the Governor of the state, Theodore Orji speak about his government. They were bloggers and social media influencers who were invited by the state government to view firsthand, Governor Orji’s work on ground in the state.

Before the invitation, there have been lots of reports about the state, mostly in the social media. Such reports insinuated that Aba, the commercial city of the state, had become a dysfunctional city where nothing worked. In inviting them, the government expected them to use the reality on ground to reconcile with the reports they have read in the media (particularly the social media).

But before the interaction with the Governor, the visitors were taken round the state to view the works. They were led by the immediate past information commissioner of the state, Eze Chikamnayo. Excitedly, he described the coming into the state by the visitors as an opportunity for them to view realities on ground as opposed to “the intellectual gymnastics of the enemies of the state” that were being displayed on the social media.

It was a four days which took the visitors across many Local Government Areas (LGA) in the state, and such towns as Umuahia, Aba, Uzuakoli, Ovim, and several others were visited. They were places the developmental arm of the state government was touched in what they called “legacy projects” and said to be foundational structures for the proper take-off of governance in the state.

On the expedition, the visitors saw majestic school buildings; markets relocated to more spacious environments; Ministries’ buildings built; High Court buildings; Estate for low income, middle income and high income; Governor’s Lodge; State Broadcasting Corporation’s new buildings; International Conference Centre; hospital buildings; and several roads built by the government. Indeed, they saw projects under such heads as Housing, Health, Education, Commerce, and several others.

Housing: led by former commissioner for information, Eze Chikamnayo, who explained that in recognition of the housing needs of civil servants, traders, and other peoples in the state, Theodore Orji’s government conceived and have been building estates across Umuahia, the state capital and other parts of the state.

Among such estates is Ohobo-Apara Estate, which the state is building under a Public Private Partnership scheme. This estate, according to Chikamnayo, will take care of the middle and low class civil servants in the State. By the time the visitors got to the site, it was at a very advanced stage with beneficiaries already indicating interest.

The state government also took the visitors to Ubani, where it is building a 2000-unit housing estate out of which about 1000 bungalows have been roofed. The estate is to cater for mostly traders at the Ubani market. Those were the two major housing estates.

Health: Acknowledging that health is wealth, the government revealed that it initiated and established Abia State Specialist Hospital and Dialysis Centre at the heart of the state capital, Umuahia.  The Centre which has other departments was said to be especially crucial to kidney patients. It has six dialyzers from which two are dedicated to HIV/AIDS patients and Hepatitis sufferers.

The fee, the hospital authorities said were being subsidised to ensure that most people could access it. It was further explained that the fee was cheaper than what was obtainable at the Federal Medical Centre opposite it.

 

The group was shown the Amachara Specialist Hospital which was under renovation by the state government with additional structures as Accident and Emergency Unit. The visitors were told that such structures were being replicated in three other parts of the state.

Education: the visitors saw and learnt that schools were remodeled and rehabilitated while additional modern and state-of-the-art structures were built. Model schools were also being built by the Orji administration to further enhance education of Abians both in Umuahia and other parts of the state.

To make transportation easier for pupils/students, the government provided many school buses across the state to take them to and from school every day, which the visitors also saw across the state. An E-library was shown to the excited visitors, built by the government to encourage Abia people to imbibe the reading culture and be abreast of global standards.

Commerce: An ultra-modern market has been built in Ubani to encourage trade and commerce in the state. Considering the distance between Ubani and Umuahia, an estate, Ubani Housing Estate was conceived to accommodate those that would be trading in the market. Situated between the capital and Uzuakoli, the government had in mind of using it as a means of bringing development to Uzuakoli. The estate is hoped to yield revenue to the State in due time.

An industrial/timber market was also built in the state capital. The influencers were told that when one of the access roads to Olokoro, under construction, would be completed that it would further enhance the business.

Abia Mall is another gigantic project of the administration and is being constructed to kick-off the Governor’s dream at putting the state in the map of modern commerce. Conglomerates like SPAR were said to be bidding for space already at the mall.

A spare parts market was also built by the Orji administration.

Urbanization: Governor Orji's vision to urbanise Abia State was said to be unprecedented. The Ubani Housing estate of 2000 units is a product of that vision. Strategically located between Umuahia and Uzuakoli which is a historical town, the estate and the attendant development, will close the distance between the locations.

 

At the time of the visit, the estate was already attracting schools, hospitals, hotels, eateries, etc. This meant that the Governor was building another city in Abia State by tactically decongesting the State capital.

Security: Residents acknowledged the huge improvement in security in the state. They attested to the fact that armed robbery and kidnapping were the order of the day, which militated against investment and development, scaring away construction firms that were contracted to work in the state, especially in Aba.

 

Part of what the government did was building three Helipads in three locations across the state, which helped in monitoring the criminals. The government also used its cordial relationship with the Federal Government to influence the building of Army barracks across the state, and the drafting of more military men into the state to snuff out cells of robbers and kidnappers.

Communication: When compared to some other State-owned media, the Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State (BCA) was said to have done considerably well under the Orji’s government, as many people attested to the reception of its clear signals far beyond the state. Decent accommodation and equipment was provided to ensure smooth communication and accurate information dissemination.

General Infrastructure: A trip round Umuahia and the suburbs revealed gigantic projects by the administration. Projects like the big Governor's lodge, the International Conference Centre, Events Centre from where traders were evacuated to the new Ubani market, the new Secretariat buildings, JAAC building, High Court building and the renovated Magistrate Court building, Skill Acquisition Centre, Bus Terminals, Government House, Helipad, roads were all there for all to see.

Roads: Many roads were seen to have been constructed like the state road leading to Aba, as well as many Aba roads such as Azikiwe road, Aba-Owerri road, and several others.

During the interaction with the Governor, who spoke extempore, outrightly told his audience: “If we have anything to hide, if we have not done anything for our people, we will not invite you here”.

He went on to explain how his government was hijacked and manipulated by a clique for more than three years. According to him, it was that situation that slowed down his plans to bequeath to the state the complete package of legacy projects he had in mind like an airport and a seaport.

 

“If we have started the airport project in 2007, we would have completed it by now; if we have started the seaport project then, we would have also completed it by now” he told his audience.

He said those people who manipulated his government were the same people who had previously divided the state and set groups and peoples against themselves. He said also that after he had extricated his government from them, he then had the onerous task of uniting the state. According to him, everybody was working at cross purposes, and many people fighting his government confessed: “We are not fighting you, but the masquerade behind you”. Going further, he explained that it was after he had freed the state from their clutches that they commenced the media onslaught against him and his government.

Orji took the opportunity to speak particularly on Aba, the state’s commercial capital, and how the state government had expended more money in developing the town than on any other part of the state. He told his visitors that the city has always been a torn in the flesh of governments. He did not fail to remind them that it was Aba that earned enigmatic Sam Mbakwe the sobriquet, “Weeping Governor” because of the emotions he once exhibited over the city.

He told his listeners that those who accuse him of embezzling state funds did not know him that he had no need for their money as he was not a businessman seeking money to shore up his businesses. “We are not here for business; I am not a business man”.

He went on to remind his audience that he was one few governors across the country that have not gone to the bond market to borrow money despite the fact that the state was poorest in allocation. He went on to explain that few people realised that his government inherited a debt of N29 billion from his predecessor in office.

 

After the governor’s speech, the response of many people in the hall was apologetic, particularly those that were critical of the governor and his government. They accepted that their criticism had been biased based on false reports and propaganda. In the final analysis, perhaps the final word on the visit should come from the Governor who told his audience that no single individual or administration could solve a society’s problems. “If you make your own impact, others will come and make their own. The important thing is that you do something that you will be remembered for” he said

 

Posted on November, 24 2014

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