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Aba, Orji Kalu And The Rest Of Us

Former Abia state governor Orji Uzor Kalu

By Uche Nwosu

In his thesis The Decay of Lying, Oscar Wilde, an Irish writer (1854-1900) declared that, “The final revelation is that lying, the telling of beautiful untrue things is the proper aim of the art”. If we stress it further we can conclude that lying is the art of releasing information that is at variance or inconsistent with the reality.

Former Abia state governor Orji Uzor Kalu

Former Abia state governor Orji Uzor Kalu

Of recent, armed chair critics and political opponents of Gov TA Orji CON and his administration, in their uncanny attempts to sway public opinion against this performing governor of Abia – God’s Own State, have tried unsuccessful to present falsehood as facts. They have been telling weird tales to the gullible; relentlessly concocting and fabricating pictures (both still and video) to goad the naive into accepting their falsehood and make-believe.

Take Aba as a case study; this epicenter of Igbo entrepreneurship has recently had its kismet recede colossally; thus becoming the object of the vitriolic attacks from the opposition camp. Certainly, before Aba’s declivity, it served as a thriving municipality of commerce and industry. It held sway as the nucleus of small and medium scale enterprises in the West Africa sub-region. From 1960s till 1990s, Aba was a town that played host to all tribes and races of African descent who came from Lagos, Onitsha, Calabar, Kaduna, Kano, Cotonou, Yaoundé, Duala, Gabon etc to do business in it.

In retrospect, Aba’s structural outlay was like that of London, Paris, Washington DC, or some few European and American cities which are charily planned and kept. Its roads were neat; the gutters were cleaned, letting current of water to flow ceaselessly to the huge Aba gutter; that gigantic drainage that traverses the town and empties its contents into the Aba River (the waterside) whenever it rained. Its filths were carted away as they were dumped. Indeed, Aba was (and still is) an architectural masterpiece. It was an organized city. For instance each street is separated from the other by a column of ten houses and numbered like that, thus making easier for any JJC in town to trace his way without missing road.

The houses are separated from each other by well maintained sanitary lanes with scintillating walkways which were cleaned up at every now and then. The Aba master plan was strictly adhered to during construction of buildings or factories in the years mentioned above. But alas! Aba lost its glory when OUK who now champions the network of virulent spleen against Gov TA ORJI and his government in the Sun newspapers took over the mantle of leadership as the second executive governor of Abia State.

From 1999 to 2007 Aba lost its splendor, it lost its shine; it lost its beauty and became blemish. Aba declined so retrogressively that to rebuild it will take years to do. Orji Uzor Kalu’s administration encouraged the building of illegal structures such as shops, kiosks, motor parks, mini markets etc on the drainages, open spaces etc, including the Aba big gutter. His government then perfected the process of the blockage of the sanitary lanes which the military administrations before it started with the connivance of some dubious landlords and traders on the pretext of building more shops in the city and giving traders spaces to do business. The result was the colossal collapse of the fabrics of the town. Its aesthetics declined tremendously.

It turned out that what the drainages would have accommodated if they were open and scooped became the burden of the roads. Both the streets and roads suffered high degree of corrosiveness. His attempt to reconstruct and rehabilitate some of them was comical. The roads he tried to reconstruct or rehabilitate failed the test of road standard and quality. And because of their structural dubiety, Aba residents dubbed the roads he built in the city; “Dubai Roads” in derisive reference to some inferior goods (particularly shoes) were imported from Dubai, the capital of the United Arab Emirate.

It is ironical that the same man that laid the foundation for the present decay of Aba municipality under his watch as governor is the same man shouting blue murder against Gov Orji, who has carried out a lot of interventions to reclaim the city, preparatory to its holistic reconstruction.

Under OUK Aba ceased to have pipe-borne water. Other infrastructures like electricity that existed before he found himself in the apex political seat of the state were neglected. Certainly, Aba was worse under OUK. Roads such as: Ohanku, Obohia, East, Azikiwe, Ama Ogbonna, Ama Ikonne, Faulks, School, Clifford, Cameroon, Danfodio, Etche, Ulasi, etc were impassable before he exited in 2007; thus making him one of the most hated political office holders at that time.

In fact, the so called holocaust which he and his army of associates and writers claim Aba has relapsed into is totally of his own making. He is the architect of Aba’s infrastructural and social declivity. If he had done the needful ie laying a strong foundation for a modern Aba that could compete strongly with the modern day Dubai, Shanghai, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, etc which Aba was their industrial and economic prelude, what would have laid at the bosom of the present administration under TA Orji would have been to consolidate on the foundation already laid and work would then start from there.

Even as he was not doing anything towards the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Aba which he and his paid writers are describing as hell on earth; as one of the worst cities on earth, OUK, through his aggressive diatribes against Aso Rock frustrated federal government’s intervention on Aba or the entire Abia State. His regular vitriolic jabs against the federal authorities denied not only Aba but Abia its due share of the central government’s largesse.

Has he forgotten how he made Abia a pariah state; a state where no investor or any serious national or international economic player could do business? Until Ochendo entered the arena, Abia was out of the circle; groping in the dark, isolated and treated as a leprous victim. Even though, Aba has not yet been placed on the pedestal of infrastructural bliss, a foundation is being laid to make the city to follow the foot paths of cities of Asia earlier mentioned in this piece.

Ochendo’s administration has consistently rehabilitated federal roads in the city like Aba-Owerri road, Ikot Ekpene road, Azumini road, Port Harcourt road, Aba axis of Enugu- Port Harcourt expressway, without the central government giving it a dime. Presently, the government has set up another intervention task force led by the Commissioner for Works, Longman Nwachukwu and made up of crack team from the Ochendo’s cabinet, prominent and non partisan Aba residents, captains of industry and civil engineers to once more rehabilitate the federal roads in the city following the subsiding of the rains. The work done so far by the task force has been exceptional.

Indeed, the intervention on Aba has been tremendous; if not for the lifeline thrown to it by the Ochendo’s administration, Aba, would have been weighed down by the neglect of the past. The system of refuse disposal there has been outstanding; never mind some of the manipulated pictures being bandied about by the opposition camp.

However, like every other institution or city that is been started anew, the residents of the city has to endure some adversities. Everything has to start anew. The roads and other infrastructures will not have to be built overnight. It has to endure. What matters is the laying of the foundation. If Gov Orji, after laying a solid foundation for the reconstruction of Abia State does not have the time to start the proper reconstruction then the government after him will take off the gauntlet and do the needful.

But as for now kudos should be given to him for elevating and placing this state on the track of socio-economic recovery. He has laid the solid and quality infrastructural foundation which the government after him will find it easy work on and achieve decisive result that will be of immense benefit to Ndi Abia in particular and Nigeria as a whole. Abians are waiting for the person that will combine the dreams and forthrightness of Dr Michael Okpara; the resilience and accomplishment of Dee Sam Mbakwe, the vision and exploits of Chief TA Orji to take over from Ochendo.

For now, Ochendo has remarkably done well in all sectors. His seven and half years in office are not without concrete legacy projects: chief among them are the upgrade of the civil service, provision of quality education in the state, styling leadership that have compassed a new Abia. His administration has also restored sanity to the polity, empowered the women and youth as well as provided the road map for the much sought after Igbo unity and renaissance. No wonder he was elected as Chairman, South East Governors’ Forum (SEGF) and recently conferred with a national award of Commander, Order of the Niger (CON).


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