A lot has been said about Aba, the commercial destination of Nigeria. I am not about to join issues with all the various positions that may have been advocated, whether for or against. But I will reiterate our avowal, as publicly pledged during the inauguration of our mandate, to the effect that we will faithfully live up to the aspiration of our people. Aba is not an exception to that pledge and this has been variously demonstrated by a glaring sincerity of purpose in addressing major challenges in Aba.
For a retrospective brief, it is common knowledge that the gateway status of Aba is a follow-up to the business adventures of our Igbo brothers. The city accommodated their strategic business interest in terms of proximity to railway and seaport through nearby Port Harcourt and accessibility to other states. Aba did well as a market town ably administered by retinue of Igbo merchants who ventured into various trades and vocations. With the passage of time, these Igbo produce merchants flourished in their trade and consequently the British colonial masters were attracted to designate Aba as one of their administrative enclaves.
Before the exit of the British colonialists, Aba had become a household name in Nigeria and subsequently made it to the African map as a commercial hub of note. Naturally, the status of the city compelled her to grapple with the influx of human beings who, as it were, came in droves. The consequence is that indecency and flagrant disregard for environmental friendliness has become a way of life in Aba. It became so mountainous that successive governments shied away from making a remarkable input in expanding the already over-stretched infrastructure in the city of Aba.
But our genuine desire to comprehensively turn Aba into a huge construction site was fiercely challenged, firstly, by incredible security challenge, and secondly, by the financial wherewithal to adopt emergency-zone approach. However, the enormity of decay prompted government to conscientiously prioritise interventions and constantly reconcile it with available resources vis-à-vis the expected necessity of allocating
similar values to other geopolitical enclaves of the state.
Those who disdained our promises as being empty would have been jolted by the reality of rehabilitations going on in 16 roads in Aba, viz: Azikiwe Road, Cemetery Road, Milverton Avenue, Eziukwu/Okigwe Roundabout, Ama Ogbonna, Nwala by Faulks Road to Brass Junction, linking Aba/Owerri Road, Ngwa
Road, Ohanku Road, Emelogu Road (completed, awaiting drainage), Ehere Road, Omoba Road, Umuola Road, Ikot-Ekpene Road from Opobo Junction to Bata, Omuma by ACCN, Nwigwe by Nwagba Avenue, geometric access road, and Aba-Port Harcourt Road. Government had earlier risen to the challenge of rehabilitating and dualising the impassable Aba-Owerri Road and the notorious Ukwu-Mango, and others.
The investment gateway extended to Geometric Energy Limited will emphatically jumpstart every latent enterprise in Aba and redefine access to energy for optimum business delivery.
Our state and federal legislators elected to protect the interest of Aba political block have combined beautifully well with the state government to jointly promote the interest of Aba, our commercial pride. The strategic importance of repositioning Aba gave rise to our support and deployment of resources towards the creation of Aba State. We had reasoned that its attainment would facilitate the mobilisation of facilities for accelerated development of both states. A monthly federation allocation of N3.5 billion (three billion, five hundred million naira) and minimally improved internally-generated revenue is abysmally inadequate to scratch the surface of Aba’s infrastructural challenge. This is regardless of the inevitable necessity of having to allocate N2.5 billion (two billion, five hundred million naira) monthly from the same next-to-nothing allocation to pay workers’ salaries.
Let us draw from the wisdom of history as we recall the horrendous past when evil repeatedly danced
in the square of the righteous, until the heart-rending cry of the state attracted the intervention of heaven. Abia, once cajoled and derided, is now playing host to stakeholders and interest groups who are desirous of a practical recipe to security challenges residing in their domain.
Our irreversible commitment to Aba will continue to drive the vision of sanitising the city for the enhancement of our people’s wellbeing. Our regime of matching words with action will see to it that blocked drainages are thoroughly desilted and illegal structures obstructing the rehabilitation and construction of new ones are summarily demolished. Armed with the survey report of a seasoned professional in urban challenges, we have resolved to critically approach headlong a comprehensive enumeration of properties in Aba and other urban areas of the state with a view to streamlining all forms of levies and development funds.
Government also considered it appropriate to partner with the market unions of Ariaria International Market and others with a view to rehabilitating sectional roads in the market. Our sincerity of purpose in that regard was practically demonstrated by a genuine commitment of allowing the market union unfettered access to revenues accruing from the market for intervention in critical road situations and government also subventing same. Suffice it to say that the government of Abia State believes in Aba and is practically committed to its re-engineering.
T. A. ORJI
Orji, the Governor of Abia State, wrote in from Umuahia.