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Saturday, December 9, 2023

Abia State In The Hands of Gov Theodore A. Orji



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The gubernatorial election of 2007 in Abia State brought about the victory of the then Progressive Peoples Alliance [PPA] gubernatorial candidate as the Governor of Abia State and also propelled the promise of another South East based political party. Along with the political victory came the accustomed outcry that the victory had been a rigged victory by the then outgoing governor and owner of the PPA, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu. In particular, the then new governor was charged/accused of being a stooge of Orji Uzor Kalu by the people of Abia – in what was widely believed a move to hold the State finances hostage for the then former governor.

Erosion Control along Nkata Ameke

Through the period starting from his victory in April 2007 till April 2011, Gov Orji battled against the stigma of a stooge and a puppet of the then former governor. Through this effort, the governor abandoned the political party [PPA] bidding him to the then former governor and momentarilydecamping into the All Progressive Grand Alliance [APGA]. His decampment into the APGA last less than a week when the governor dumped the APGA for the mainstream Peoples Democratic Party [PDP].

Bridge Construction along Nkata Ameke

Liberation from the perceived political bondage to the then former and owner of the PPA appears to have yeilded the way for unbonded unleashment of developmental programs for the people of Abia  State. But credible information available to 247ureports.com point to an agreement reached between Governor Orji and the 1st Lady of the Nation [Madam Patience Jonathan]. Accordingly, the agreement stipulated that the Gov Orji is to remint the monthly sum of N35million to the 1st Lady for her efforts in bringing/rescuing the Govervor out of the grips of the PPA into the protective grips of the PDP.    

Test Driving New Waste Disposal Trucks

The mouthpiece of the Abia State government in celebrating the progressive efforts of the State government under the leadership of Abia State notes that the 1st tebure of the Abia State government was marred bythe governor’s struggle to free the State from the grips of bondage and politicians who have spent their years feeding off the fat of Abia State. The mouthpiece of the State Government, Hon Bonny Iwuoha told 247ureports.com in a telephone conversation that the governor has since mounted the commencement of developmental programs in the State. Particularly, Hon Iwuoha pointed to Healthcare development as one of the areas the governor had embarked upon to improve the living standards of the people of the State.

Development and provision of one hundred and fourty five [145] health centers during the 1st term of Gov Orji is pointed to as one of his progressive efforts in the State. An additional fourty six [46] health centers have been erected within the first 150days of Gov Orji’s 2nd term in office [between May 29 2011 and November 1 2011]. Nineteen [19] health centers are reportedly in the pipeline. In all, a total of two hundred and ten [210] healthcare centers would have been erected by the start or early next year [2012]. As gathered, the 210 healthcare centers, when completed, will have qualified nurses as permanent staff and visiting Doctors, The facilities will also be able to treat minor illness and provide short-term admitance to patients. In addition to the 210 heathcare centers, the Abia State government touts their two new major diagnostic centers – one located in Aba and the other in Umuahia, the State capital. The diagnostic center which is a product of a patnership with an Indian Medical Group [Miture] is said to be ground breaking, in that, it will provide succor to the lower income earners resident in and around Aba and Umuahia. The partnership is managed under the leadership of Prof Mbanaso, an indigene of Abia State.

However closer inquiry into the strides claimed by the Abia State government indicates that the government of Abia State may have been economical with the extent of its progress and/or efforts. On the first level, informed and impartial observers of the affiars in Abia State point to the strides into the healthcare delivery as somewhat political gimmickry. Available information indicates that less than 50% of the commissioned 191 healthcare centers [145+46] have yet to be equiped and are yet operational. It was also learnt that the centers were not primarily an Abia State initiated project. It was part of an Milleniuen Development Goal [MDG] program -of which half of the funding was provided for by the World Bank. The two diagnostic centers are also said to be under a counter-part funding arraignment. The spokesperson for the Abia State government acknowledged that the 210 planned healthcare centers were part of the MDG. He claimed partial knowledge of the details of the healthcare centers by stating that he recently joined the Abia State government. 

The industrial revival promised by the Abia State Governor during his campaigns of 2007 and 2011 appears a point to debate in both camps of the political divide. Gov Orji had pledged to boost the industries in Abia State by injecting life into the many defunct industries such as the Golden Breweries, Textile Mills and Glass Industries. To this effort, the Abia State government recently set up a board and a committee to study the feasibilty of revitalizing the mentioned industries within a period of one year. And as gathered, the committee completed their task and submitted its findings and recommendations to the Governor in the form of a proposal. 247ureports.com gathered that the proposal contained plan to create 3,00o new jobs. Also, a South African company has been invited to take over the Golden Breweries and to operate it. The chief spokeperson for the Governor, Hon Iwuoha confirmed the development.

Augumenting the proposed 3,000 creation through the revitalization project is the recent youth empowerment program embarked on in partnership with ASUPEDED for youth skill acquisition programs. The Abia State government will receive N100million monthly from ASUPEDED for the program. As gathered, 10 – 20 youths will be drawn from every ward to participate in the program. But their appear a discrepancy in the expected number of youths to be trained. The spokeman of the governor, Iwuoha placed the number at 4,430 while sources within the ASUPEDED placed the number closer to 2,000.  

Reversing the trend of dilapidation of education and educational insfrastructures has posed one of the major challenges to the Abia State government. At present, Abia State houses one of the worse insfrastructural educational amenites in the country – owing largely to the historial management of the schools. The Gov Orji administration in their effort told 247ureports.com that it has launched a program of refurbishing the dilapidated classrooms. It added that the State Ministry of Eucation has launched a teacher re-education program – and provided a HILUX Van for each Local Government Area [LGA] for use to drive to schools within the local government to supervise the Teachers. In addition, the State government embarked on scholarship programs. It gave 25 scholarship award for tertiary institutions to recipients [Abians] studying outside the country – and 50 scholarship awards for tertiary institutions to recipients studying within Nigeria. The 75 scholarship awards were drawn out of the entire population pool of Abians estimated at over 4million equivalent of less than 0.002% of the population pool.

Particular attention is given by the Abia State Government to the road network problems in Aba. We discovered that there were no drainage. The drainage were converted to dumpsite by traders and nearby residents” – stated Hon Iwuoha in diagnosing the problem in Aba road condition. He mentioned that the Abia State government has decided to take the bull by the horns to tackle the problem. “We have set up a taskforce to address the issue of illegal structures and illegal dumpsites. The taskforce has already began pullind down illegal structures”, added Iwuoha. But critics still point to the efforts of the Orji administration as wanting. One of the more vocal critics told 247ureports.com that “Aba remains a rotten place”. The critic adds that the governor may have constructed some roads in Umuahia but he has clearly abandoned Aba.

The storyline of Abia State in the hands of Gov Orji would not be complete if the recent formation of an audit group is left unhilighted. The Orji administration, immediately following the 2011 re-election victory, constituted a group to “quantifiy” Abia State. The group was tasked with enumerating the etities within Abia State – to enumerate the residential and commercial structures, the number of residents, and the-likes – for the sake of future planning and record keeping. The effort was awarded to an audit firm and mandated to complete the Abia State audit within 6months. Many within the opposition has applauded this effort.

In all, appraising Abia State under the leadership of Gov Orji seems an uneasy task. While the many citizens and residents of Abia State cryout over what they classify as a government that has achieved little in its over 4years in Office, the operators within the Orji administration believe otherwise – thus revealing a discrepancy between the two.

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