Opinion: Ikpeazu, Giant Strides and the Conspiracy of Silence

Few days ago, the Governor of Abia State “threatened” to take over federal government roads in the State, as a way of ending the long suffering, frustration and agonies faced by Abians in accessing Abia from the seven States sharing boundaries with it. Ikpeazu is perhaps, a victim of conspiracy of silence. The scenario he is tackling is reason it may seem that he has not done enough.

Those who see Abia on twitter, those who play with reality on Facebook, those who photoshop everything on Instagram may find it difficult to appreciate the fact that despite building several alternative routes to cushion the effects of dilapidated federal government roads in Abia, Abia still stands on the precipice because exit or entry has never been so horrible. Please, come with me.

For thirteen years running, no vehicle from Ogbor Hill has successfully entered or exited Aba through Ukpakiri,Ohanze to Ikot Ekpene. In the olden days, merchants from Oron, Ikot Ekpene, Calabar and Eket came with seafood and craft works, in turn they left with our palm oil, leather works and merchandise from our artisans and traders. Business along that route has been gravely slowed down because Aba – Ikot Ekpene federal highway is in a state of embarrassing disrepair. It is even worse when one imagines that in these long stretch of years, the Federal Government has budgeted money for the reconstruction of this road.

Ikpeazu, while waiting for the implementation of the budget, put on the toga of self preservation, built roads that would serve as alternative routes. Strategically, he reconstructed Ukaegbu, linking it to Acho Nwakanma Road, down to Isiko so that people from neighboring Akwa Ibom amd Cross River States can at least continue doing business with Abians. Did you know that if you choose to see Abia from the prism of Aba – Ikot Ekpene Express Way, you would only see a city in ruins. This frustrating prism beclouds the efforts of the Governor who has done so much to make up for the lapses of federal roads in the State.

Did you know that assessing Aba from Rivers State is like a trip to the great beyond. For whatever reasons, the federal government contractors reconstructing the Obehie – Alaoji Flyover end of the Enugu – PH express road have snuffed lives out of commuters who spend long hours trying to locate Ariaria. Now, if you look at Aba or Abia from the perspective of the dilapidated and badly damaged Abia end of the Enugu – PH highway, you can only see a State suffering the most reckless abandon.

Ikpeazu knew that traders in Abia and Rivers State do amazing business interchange. It is obvious that the volume of trade between the two States affects the gross domestic product curve of the said States. What did Ikpeazu do? He reconstructed the long stretch of Omuma Uzor to link Etche and other parts of Rivers State. Ikpeazu it was who reconstructed the Umuode bypass in attenpt to avoid the bumps, gullies and gridlock associated with Tonimas and down to the Onions Market. Apart from providing alternative to exiting or entering Aba, that Road has saved the thousands of natives the thoughts of feeling annihilated. The regular palliative measures on the unending failed portions of the federal road are ways the Abia government has adopted to cushion the effect of conapiracy of silence.

I listened to the Governor publicly decrying the economy crippling state of the Osisioma end of the Enugu – PH express Road. Road users pass through the eye of a needle to drive past the less than 400meters covering the Osisioma area. This means that visitors from Enugu, Umuahia, Onitsha, the North and indeed Lagos find that end very impassable. Meanwhile, it has taken Arab Contractors a princely seven years to reconstruct Umuahia Express Tower down to Alaoji passing through Osisioma. Yes! Sevem years and counting that they have strangulated businesses in Abia, particularly Aba.

Did Okezie go to sleep? He wouldn’t have because a man whose house is on fire does not go after rats. He took time to open up the Umuikaa – Umene – Obikabia Road so that visitors from Lagos, North, Owerr, Enugu and Onitsha can assess Aba through Ogbor Hill using Ikpeazu’s alternative route. You will agree with me that for that wise intervention, Aba would have closed shop. Ironically, those who have been told the tale of the mystery gridlock at Osisioma may not understand the enormity of efforts made by Ikpeazu to make life easier for Abians.

Umuahia – Ikot Ekpene federal High way is a tale of misfortune, misadventure and misplacement of priority. It is possible that the federal government doesn’t understand the geography of that route to apprrciate that the area is landlocked, hence a one way traffic that must be given priority attention. Every year in the last seven years, that road is captured in the Federal budget, twenty years it has prevented Abians from doing business with their neighbours in Akwa Ibom and Cross Rivers States with its attendant loss of revenues. Now, Ikpeazu’s pallaitive measures around Ndume, Ikwuano end of the road appear like nothing. Ikpeazu had to veer off what should be the regular alternative by diverting motorists through his wonderfully reconstructed Ubakala – Old Umuahia linking back to Ururuka Road also being done by Ikpeazu. For what? To circumevent frustration and cushion the effect of failed portions of the Umuahia – Ikot Ekpene federal highway.

I do not know where you are coming from. However, the essence of this piece is to create awareness that the spate of dilapidated federal roads in Abia is drowning and whittling the impact of what Governor Ikpeazu is doing in Abia. Most of his roads will unfortunately overflow into death traps called federal roads.

I want us to tweet and facebook starting with the hashtag #Arabconstractorswakeup. Let us find time to visit the Ekeakpara – Ugba Junction started by Ikpeazu which has been stopped by the federal government. Let us encourage the federal government to quickly fix that road leading to their NNPC depot at Osisioma.

Ikpeazu cam never do all the roads in Abia but he has done many aimed at reviving the State’s economy. We must put the federal government on its toe to end the conspiracy of silence. Of what use is the 5km Faulks Road if it terminates at a dilapidated Ariaria junction end of the Enugu – PH federal highway? What is the purpose of that beautiful interchange at Osisioma if what you see around the flyover is a federal highway in ruins? Always remember that the scarce resources must be prudently deployed to meet with other sectors of our State life.

Ben Udechukwu, a Public Affairs Analyst, writes from Umuahia

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