Chuks Okocha, Umuahia
The recent visit to Abia State by members of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Performance and Publicity Tour led by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, has afforded the party the needed opportunity to appreciate what the team confessed as “media conspiracy” against Governor Theodore Orji.
The “media conspiracy theory”, according to the fact-finding team, meant that the giant strides of the governor in raising the bar of governance and delivering democracy gains to the door steps of the people are being unnecessarily turned into propaganda by the opposition.
This corroborates the earlier position of the state government that some sections of the media, whose annoyance is that Orji’s towering achievements have dwarfed the purported records of his predecessor, Orji Kalu, have deliberately decided to propagate lies on the efforts of the governor to change the face of Abia.
Orji accused his predecessor of using his media outfit to twist facts and fabricate falsehood with the intent to malign him and cause disaffection among the people. But the findings by the PDP team seem to have proved Orji’s detractors wrong.
When the team visited the twin-tower secretariat recently constructed by Orji’s administration, Metuh could not help but exclaimed: “This is second to none!” The over 200-office ultra modern secretariat has since put paid to office accommodation challenges hitherto bedeviling the civil servants in the state as they operated from rented apartments and shanty-like colonial structures which the previous administrations in the state did not bother to change.
But Orji decided to write his name on the sand of time by bequeathing to the civil servants, an ultra-modern secretariat so that all government ministries can now operate from the same premises.
Members of the team were also stunned at what they saw at the over 5000-sitting capacity International Conference Centre initiated and completed by Orji’s government. The structure stands tall among the chain of legacy projects of the governor. When commissioned, the centre is meant to act as a catalyst to Abia’s tourism industry as well as economic growth.
In the same vein, the Metuh-led team was shocked to discover that Orji was the first governor to conceive the idea of building a befitting Government House for Abia State, 23 years after its creation. All previous administration in the state had operated from a rented apartment and a structure donated to the state by the late Omerua until Orji came on board and embarked on the building of a befitting Government House, which is expected to be commissioned this December.
The team also visited the new Joint Account and Allocation Committee (JAAC) building and the Abia State Universal Basic Education Board (ASUBEB) building all located at the Ogurube layout. Both projects started sometime last year are now nearing completion. The team was excited when it visited the e-library complex which is among the projects to be commissioned soon by the state government.
The team’s next port of call was the Abia State Environmental Protection Agency (ASEPA) ultra-modern office complex also delivered by Orji. The team was impressed with its findings just as it also did when its train stopped over at the new Broadcasting Corporation of Abia (BCA) office complex. The story was all the same when it visited the Abia Specialist and Diagnostic Hospital along Aba Road in Umuahia and run in partnership with an Indian firm, the Mecure group.
The premises houses a diagnostic centre with sophisticated equipment for any kind of diagnosis; a dialysis centre equipped with the latest technology and an eye centre recently commissioned by the state government. The hospital has since become a major referral centre in the East of the Niger, patronised mostly by patients from both the South-east and the South-south geopolitical zones.
The team was later taken to the Amachara Specialist hospital, which is an annex of the Abia Specialist hospital. Amachara better known as a paediatric centre of excellence is Abia’s specialist hospital for children. The hospital has 100-bed hospital wards and two hostels for student nurses. Orji’s administration has built 100-bed hospitals strategically located at three senatorial zones in the state as part of the revolution in the health sector. This is besides the over 270 health centres scattered in the 184 political wards in the state with some wards boasting of more than a health centre.
Suddenly, the shouts of “This is Africa’s Dubai, this is Dubai” rented the air when the team visited the new Umuahia Main Market at Ubani Ibeku. The market which has over 7000 lock-up stores is a beautiful sight to behold as traders and visitors alike enjoy the best comfort and convenience available in any modern market anywhere in the world.
Close to the market is a housing estate strategically located to decongest the city centre. The old market site at the centre of the town has been turned into an event centre of international standard, which has given the capital city a face-light. The team also visited some of the housing estates like the Ohobo and Amaokwe housing Estates as well as the new mechanic village.
After visiting several project sites in the state capital including the Abia shopping mall in partnership with the prestigious Shoprite and which is nearing completion, the team opted to take a trip to Aba for firsthand information on the alleged infrastructural decay in the commercial city. Rather than find a neglected city, the team expressed surprise at the quantum of projects already posted in Aba.
The team first visited the Aba shopping mall under construction at Osisioma. The project executed under Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement will host 10,000 stall upon completion. It will also have an independent power plant to ensure regular power supply, ware houses for multinational companies as well as automated dry ports where containers from overseas will be cleared.
After stopping over at the Osisioma modern park built to decongest the hitherto impassable Osisioma junction, the team headed for the Geometric Power Access road. The road serves as alternative but direct access to the multi-million dollar Geometric Power Plant of Professor Bath Nnaji billed for commissioning before the end of the year. The power plant is believed, could provide 24-hour power supply to Aba, Umuahia and some parts of Eastern states.
The team however expressed satisfaction with the access road to the NNPC depot in Osisioma as part of the administration’s contribution to facilitate the re-opening of the depot after about a decade of inactivity. Since the depot was reopened two years ago, it is said to have created a lot of jobs for many residents. Importantly, the area which had been taken over by hoodlums has now become a beehive of commercial activities.
The team’s ship later anchored at Abia State University Teaching Hospital Aba (ABSUTH), where it saw the Diagnostic centre also run in partnership with the Mecure group. The team was impressed with the sight of another 100-bed ward, a hostel, and doctors/medical administration bloc. When the team landed at the Abia Polytechnics Aba, it marvelled at the level of infrastructure transformation. A number of new structures adorn the premises of the institution which now ranks among the top Polytechnics in the country.
When the team drove into Aba metropolis, it could not reconcile the sight with the sustained media propaganda against Orji over alleged neglect of the commercial city. The team expressed satisfaction on the rehabilitation of the access road to the Nigerian Breweries plant in Aba, which has boosted the investment of the brewing giant. They also visited one of the model schools.
While in Abia State Polytechnic, the Rector of the school, Elder Allwell Onukogu thanked the state government and the federal government for showing interest in the institution. The team also visited a number of roads that were rehabilitated, including Milverton road, Aba Owerri road, and School road among others.
The committee however said it would invite the Minister of Works and ask him to visit federal roads in Aba with a view to fixing them. The team could not visit all the project sites going on in the state because of their vast nature and time constraint. Little wonder, it did not hesitate to declare Orji the best performing governor in the South-east.
It confirmed that over 15 legacy projects in the state have been slated for commissioning next month by President Goodluck Jonathan. The team seems to agree that there was no doubting the fact that Orji’s administration has posted identifiable projects on the Abia landscape.