Abia State: An Unbiased Evaluation Of An Unsung HeroArticles/Opinion, Latest News, News From The State Monday, September 22nd, 2014
By Sunday Adeshina
As Rome was not built in a decade, the same can be said of Abia State where Governor Theodore Orji is working very hard to give the God’s Own State a face-lift. But some paid hate writers through their articles want the world to believe that Governor Orji is a ‘failure.’ Despite the virulent attacks aimed at distracting his government, Governor Orji has remained focused and committed to the Abia project. Though his critics have labeled him the ‘most criticized governor in Nigeria’ as he works hard to reposition the state for the service of humanity, it would be unfortunate in the face of irrefutable evidence if cynics insist the governor is undeserving of a heroic appellation.
It is a known fact that Abia State has always been a volatile ground during every electioneering year simply because the political gladiators do resort to mudslinging and backstabbing of public office holders instead of strategizing on how to nurture and develop people/result-oriented programmes and policies which will accelerate development in God’s Own State.
Unfortunately, the trend has not in any way dissipated as aspirants are gearing up for more battles, thereby heating up the polity unnecessarily with all manners of personal attacks on the governor and his associates in their pursuit of scoring cheap political goals, achieving self-aggrandizement with a view to stealing the precious Abian votes who have been on the receiving end of hordes upon hordes of devastating political propaganda.
Another victim of such political brimstone has been Governor T. A. Orji, whom the opposition has succeeded in portraying as a monster strangulating every imminent development in the state, and has therefore not been spared of numerous political jabs as the 2015 elections gather momentum.
Despite the heavy burden hung on the governor’s shoulders, some political analysts believe that Governor Orji has made some dramatic and noteworthy moves to transform key ministries in the state. These include education, agriculture, commerce and industry, justice, health, security among others. Expectedly, his critics have over time refused to acknowledge the giant strides of this administration.
Despite the array of criticisms, majorly from opposition political parties within the state, a critical evaluation of Abia State in the last three years shows that Governor Orji is not a failure as some politicians are portraying him especially when compared with some of his contemporaries in the opposition parties within and outside the South-East geo-political zones.
The restructured Health Sector
Considering his enthusiasm for result and his disposition to transforming the primary, secondary and tertiary health care in Abia State, T. A. Orji, got his idea and plan for turning around the ailing health sector of the state spot on.
The reason the government is bent on the on-going development of the health sector may be connected to the growing child mortality rate which stands at 88 per 1000 births. Even the Abia First Lady, Mrs. Mercy Orji, while flagging off the first round of Maternal, New Born and Child Health Week, MNCHW, at Mbalano, headquarters of Isuikwuator Local Government Area, mid June 2014, decried the situation and called on stakeholders in the health sector to show more commitment towards the fight against the menace in the country to further strengthen the effort of the government.
The First Lady’s concern was understandable, as no reasonable government would keep quiet on such a sensitive matter. Mrs. Orji was quoted as describing the scenario as “unacceptable”. As a mother, herself, she would surely want improved pre- and anti- natal functioning health care made available to all.
The Government of Abia State has commissioned a number of projects in this light. The Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, commissioned the Royal Cross Methodist Hospital, Ugwueke, an Utra-modern maternity in Abia State in 2012. Prof. Onyebuchi said the collaboration of private sector and the Federal Government is working effectively and would help reduce the incidence of maternal and infant mortality rate in the country.
Despite these giant strides, the government is not bending backward as it has continued to make commendable efforts to ensure quality health care delivery to millions of Nigerians in the state.
The donor of the hospital, Johnson Chukwu, revealed that what motivated him to embark on the project, was that over 80 percent of the patients consisting of mostly women and children trek from Ebonyi State down to Ugwueke community where the hospital is situated to seek medical care and that private influential individuals must be complimenting the efforts of the Abia State Government.
Barely a year later, the minister returned for the commissioning of the multimillion naira Dialysis Centre of Abia State Specialist Hospital and Diagnostic Centre in Umuahia. Most analysts described the initiative as unprecedented.
The minister said there was need for the government to enroll in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to make access to healthcare for majority of Abians affordable; adding that if human beings insured cars, it makes it appropriate to insure human health. The government of T. A. Orji has since been consolidating on that premise by establishing and refurbishing primary and secondary health centres.
It is on record that Prof. Chukwu, in his speech, lauded the project and the state government’s “commitment to the provision of quality and affordable healthcare in alignment with the transformation agenda of the President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.”
He “congratulated the Governor, the Government and Abians in general for the project” which he described as “an excellent philanthropic effort translating to a quantum boost in excellent healthcare.”
Like most Abians, Prof. Chukwu expressed happiness and added that T. A Orji deserved “accolades as a man of vision with greater passion than medical practitioners.”
It is worthy to note that the governor’s achievements in the health sector are more than the establishment of Dialysis Centre. Since he assumed the office, available records shows that well over 700 Primary Health Centres (PHCS) in every political ward in the 17 LGAS have been upgraded and mandated to offer free maternal services to pregnant women.
Other developments include, but are not limited to, the accreditation for posting of house officers at the Amachara Specialist Hospital; the reconstruction of General Hospital; and the construction of the 100 bed wards in nine LGAs among others.
The dialysis machines will be for patients with kidney diseases without other chronic complications, while two will be especially for HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis patients respectively, with one left as spare to achieve standard practice of an all-encompassing treatment.
The general belief about the Diagnostic Centre was the advancement it has added to the health sector as it would help solve numerous problems, pains and sufferings of people with health challenges.
It came to public notice recently that Governor Orji provided 18 vehicles for Health Centres in order to facilitate effective and “proper management of emergency situations” This was aside the upgrading of Amachara General Hospital “to conform to the standard of the state teaching hospital.” The diagnostic centre has even secured accreditation from the Medical Examination Board for training of house officers.
The government has also facilitated the construction of a chest clinic in partnership with Agbami Partners of Chevron Oil Field. The MTN Foundation, under the auspices of MTN Yellow Doctors Programme, is set to provide free eye test and treatment for Abians. Recently, the governor endorsed Americare USA to construct an international hospital in Obuaku in Ukwa West. Besides, the moribund School of Health Technology, Aba, is now alive.
At a meeting held in Umuahia on Monday, September 8, 2014, the Forum of Abia State Political Office Holders lauded the “health sector transformation” and other “advances made by the Government of T. A. Orji” in the State.
In a communiqué issued at the end of the strategic meeting, the forum applauded the governor for his exceptional leadership and various infrastructural programmes that have transformed the state capital, Umuahia, hitherto a glorified village, into a proper state capital.
In his address during while presenting the 2014 Abia State Budget Speech to the State House of Assembly at the Assembly Chamber, Governor T. A. Orji, said the government would give attention to primary health care by “encouraging breast-feeding, provision of adequate nutrition, clean water, basic sanitation, immunization, oral dehydration therapy and family planning.”
True to his promise, the government has been making strategic moves to ensure access to appropriate and quality health care services to children at all levels.
This may be why Governor T. A. Orji’s administration has also completed action on the process for the commencement of Abia State Health Insurance Scheme. This scheme according to the governor will ensure growth in the general well-being of Abians as it is aimed at the improvement in the quality of lives of the residents of the state.
All these are indications that the governor’s promise to sustain his administration’s efforts in equipment procurement, renovation and upgrading of some of the Health Care Institutions through the on-going transformation of structures in the health sector has been manifesting.
The promises, however, are not the only thing Abians have found exciting. The completion of the construction of Abia State University Teaching Hospital Medical Complex Building in Aba, and the equipping of nine hospitals with 100 beds each, amid other features, in different LGAs have been applauded.
Also, the School of Nursing/Midwifery, Aba and the Aba General Hospital now wear new looks. Works have equally advanced at the General Hospital/Leprosy Centre Uzuakoli Abians since the second quarter of the year. There are also indications that additional Health Centres would be built, equipped and provided in order to make life and living better for Abians. It would not be out of place to assert regarding health and infrastructure in Abia State: its indeed a new dawn!
The move for massive infrastructural development in the State
A section of the media has been quite frank and objective in its reportage on the commendable development in Abia State. Recently, a medium authoritatively reported that the Abia Government is going all out for massive infrastructural development. Some political watchers have also described the improvement as “unprecedented.” Interestingly, an official of the State Ministry of Information said “the Abia State Government is seeking partnerships in developing major projects located in various strategic locations within the state” This, obviously, would complement the efforts of the government in delivering the dividends of democracy to all Abians.
For instance, the Abia Hotels Ltd, Umuahia, is set for a major face-lift. Based on the Government’s Policy on Privatization and Commercialization, the edifice is currently awaiting the attention of reputable investors who would transform it to a world class hotel befitting a state capital.
Independent checks reveal that the Umuahia Modern market, Ubani-Ibeku, is also awaiting the attention of reputable investors who would transform the market. Like the Umuahia Modern Market, the Timber and Allied Market, Umuahia and the Aba International Industrial Market, are awaiting investors’ attention. Many sane minds cannot but applaud T. A. Orji for partnering with investors in developing the state further.
Interestingly, many people are aware that the policy of the Abia State Government to encourage the development of industrial activities in the state and the planned development of large-scale industrial establishments located in Abia notably the Nigerian Breweries, Aba; Golden Guinea Breweries, Umuahia; Aba Textile Mills, International Glass Industry (IGI), Aba; and Modern Ceramics, Umuahia are blossoming and fast reducing the number of unemployed youths in the state. In fact, the fact going round is that it’s a new dawn for Abia youth.
There are also special reports that the government has made several efforts to develop large and medium scale industries. This clearly points to one fact: positioning Abia as major commercial centre in Nigeria is a continuous project.
Even the blueprint for Abia State equally showed the state has the potential to attract investment in manufacturing, agro-allied industries, Textiles, Industrial Minerals/Quarrying, Plastic Industry, Chemical Industry, and Oil and Gas Industry to mention a handful.
But since industry and development cannot exist in isolation of functioning electric power supply, the Governor ensured constant power supply for these industries despite the non-completion of the Ohiya sub-station. This he did as far back as 2012. It was therefore not surprising to discover that many have commended the governor for his efforts in ensuring that residents of the state capital, Umuahia, and its environs enjoyed stable power supply.
Earlier, Governor Orji collaborated with the Federal Government to develop 504MW Power plant at Alaoji Power to complement projects his government already initiated. The present projects are definitely poised to further ensure more availability of electricity for Abians.
As these projects race towards completion and the signs of improved standard of living in Abia State inundate the landscape, attracting more development to the state through greater public-private sector collaboration remains a desired inevitability. One can now only hope that T. A. Orji’s critics eventually embrace that reality.
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