Aba! Our Aba. A town commercially and economically endowed that is likened as the Japan of Africa, whose residents could fabricate anything to mimic its originality.
Aba attracts people of diverse ethnic groups and interests because of the burgeoning of trade and commerce there.
A typical day in this Enyimba city starts by 5 a.m. and terminates by 11 p.m. when most of the traders would have satisfied themselves of having made a good day. Aba, indeed, is a business delight. And this is where the problem comes.
Aba-Ngwa as it is often referred to is a city in a hurry; a city where liquid cash accompanying the merchandizing of goods and services flows with unrestrained gush, thus pushing this commercially-oriented city to the edge of assuming the toga of a land where only money speaks.
Discipline was the core value then when hygiene was regarded as sacrosanct. Sanitary inspectors inspected not only the sanitary lanes but houses referred to as “Yards”. Indeed, the fear of sanitary inspectors then is the beginning of your escape from the wrath of law; and so every resident kept to the sanitation code of the then Aba County Council; cleaning the drainages and carting away wastes (refuse) to the designated points. No one dared to build structure on unauthorized place. No one dared to build structure on it. Then, Aba was sweet and habitable as its population density was low and manageable.
But things got out of hand when after the civil war; people of all hues displaced in their formal abodes as a result of the war made the town their new residence. Population increased geometrically and deterioration of the city started. Aba began to witness despicable defacing as structures were built on unauthorized places. The sanitary lanes were converted to shops, stalls and rooms to let, thus jettisoning the gradual developmental process the colonial masters had introduced.
By 1990s, Aba had deteriorated in physical outlay that it had become a huge jungle so to speak. Current of water that usually flowed freely in the drainages and terminated in the Aba River found their way on the roads and streets which helped in damaging them.
In this confusion, government after government abandoned their civic responsibility of restoring the city’s lost glory. In 2015, shortly after his swearing in, Dr Okezie victor Ikpeazu carried out a major intervention in Aba that resulted in
Reconstruction of Ehere Road Obingwa L
Reconstruction of MCC/Umuojima Road Osisioma, Reconstruction of Owerrinta Road Aba Reconstruction of Week’s Road Aba, Construction Echefu Road, Reconstruction of ENUC Road, Reconstruction of Umule Road
Reconstruction of Ommne Drive
Bent on putting Aba in the economic map of the world, Gov okezie began the rehabilitation of public schools, pipe-borne water abandoned in the 1970s, and other roads in this city.
The roads that received his attention and got his Midas touch are Umuocham Road,Umule Road, Jubilee Road, Ehi Road Aba,Azikiwe Road Aba etc.
It will be noted that no government since Abia was created in 1991 took it as a priority to embark on any damage control in the city. In fact, the regime presiding Dr okezie administration, particularly the administration of Orji Uzor Kalu , encouraged the construction of market stalls in unauthorized places. It is appalling that the greatest critic of Dr Okezie administration is the very man that presided over a regime that saw to the monumental dilapidation of Aba.
Now, after the first attempt to recover the city through the reconstruction of some major roads is ongoing the Abia state governor has begun another massive programme on building of Fly over for the Very first time . But the indiscipline in the town became the bane of the developmental process in the city.
Despite the several warnings that the drainages and sanitary lanes so blocked were the reasons of the continued flooding, the residents saw no sense in this well researched counsel as they continually build on the drainages with reckless abandon.
However, unlike other administration that ruled the state with deceit, lack of cognate planning and corruption, cheap propaganda, uncoordinated approach to administering of Abia etc, It is worrisome that those sponsoring mischief and undue criticisms against the Dr Okezie victor Ikpeazu administration were the very people that caused Aba’s decay which Dr okezie is trying to clear. If they had lain the foundation for the recovering of Aba as Okezie is doing now, Aba would have been a lot better.
But the okezie administration is taking the recovery of this commercial town in strides; first the roads, the waste disposal and then the water provision. No administration, no matter how magical and richly endowed financially, would embark on any reconstruction of a city that is in ruins in one fell swoop. Even if the Abia administration would have loved to do so, the insufficient allocation from the federation account as well as the deficient internally generated revenue (IGR) would not allow it.
Consequently, it will be wrong for anyone to single out a particular road or roads as basis of judging the Dr Okezie administration in Abia state. If such roads, the enemies of government are banding about as dilapidated, have not been reconstructed, it is simply because the rehabilitation process is yet to get to them. Ngwa road Ohanku, Obohia et al roads are some of the roads that will soon benefit from subsequent phases.
As the government is rebuilding the roads and cleaning up Aba from wastes and rubbish heaps, so also the administration is embarking on the provision of Health care facilities not only in Aba but the entire state. All these projects will materialize before the expiration of the tenure of the government. What is required is patience and cooperation of the people.
However, whatever the government of Dr Okezie does in Aba could still be glossing the problem of the city because the poor financial status of the state will not allow it to carry out a marshal plan that will comprehensively suit such a mega city. In this instance, the federal government should take over or at least ensure the total recovery of Aba from social and economic decay which could lead to its collapse.
Aba is a major commercial town, like Onitsha, Kano and Lagos. If Aba is allowed to die because of neglect, a major component of the entity called Nigeria has died. It is in the public domain that Abia administration currently does not have the financial capacity and capability to rehabilitate the city.
Recently The Vice President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osibanjo during the Southeast maiden edition of Nationwide Micro Small and Medium Enterprise Clinic held at Aba
According to him, He said that “you can’t do much for manufacturing without coming to Aba,” and adding that Aba traders, artisans, tailors, shoemakers and others “are the bedrock of our economy.” the Nigerian government agenda is to create sustainable platform through its relevant agencies that would ensure that businesses in the country that produce locally made goods are given adequate support and wider spectrum to grow.
This approach should also involve experts that should drive the process. If possible, a marshal plan for Aba should be produced in this intervention process. This is what the fifth columnists and the armchair critics of Dr Okezie should be advocating and not to misinform the public on the state of Aba with dubious and skewed pictures of different scenario of the town.
Aba residents themselves must be law abiding and disciplined. Lawlessness introduces anarchy which brings under development. No tangible recovering process can be achieved if the people continue to disobey the environmental and urban laws. In every organized city, it is said, the discipline of the system and of the people creates room for enhanced services, service delivery, security and progress. Indeed, there is no alternative to this maxim. For the Enyimba city to be recovered as the government of Dr Okezie victor Ikpeazu is proposing, people must work in liaison with the government.
Ugochukwu Ezenwa from Uratta