by Ayokunle Odekunle
I got a call from a friend and someone I respect so much, Chinedu Ekekeee in late October telling me he had included my name in the list of New Media influencers billed to tour Abia State and evaluate the governor’s performance at the end of the tour. Of course I had reservations. First, the tour was billed to begin on November 10, 2014 and my annual leave was already billed to commence around November 17. So as Chinedu persisted, I prevailed on the H/R personnel at work to shift my leave back.
The other reservation was something of a surprise. Why would the governor of Abia State want to bring these group of sophisticated Lagos Bloggers and New Media influencers to evaluate his projects? What gave him so much confidence? I wondered and pondered.
I won’t join the bandwagon of people who say the Governor has done nothing. You can however do something without actually doing anything. You can be busy without doing anything meaningful.
On Sunday November 9, 2014, I left Lagos for Owerri enroute Umuaiha with my very good friend, Emmanuel Nwachukwu. The first thing I noticed as we crossed the boundary from Imo to Abia, was the bad road linking Mbaise to Umuaiha. I asked our taxi driver who told us the road is a Federal Government road. Now, not that the road is particularly bad but some parts of the road are distinctly bad. Another thing I noticed upon entering Umuaiha were the deluxe of OCHENDO GLOBAL billboards that littered the roads like some badly constructed blackboards. Infact, I noticed that are more billboards in Abia than there are projects
THE VISIT TO ABA
Before leaving Lagos, I had been inundated by people to go see the rot in Aba, which is the commercial nerve centre of the South-East. Already, myself and Emmanuel had gotten intel that the government were unwilling take us to Aba. Pronto, Kikiowo Ileowo , Emmanuel, Jude Egbas and myself proceeded to Aba one hot afternoon. We needed to see for ourselves things we felt, knew and were quite sure that the Abia government will either refuse to or forget to show to us.
ROT IS SYNONYMOUS TO ABA
It is very important to state here that Aba, being the commercial heartbeat of the South-East is in a very deplorable state. Bad roads, no visible government presence, decay everywhere, refuse dumps everywhere. What we saw was so nauseating was that my friend Emmanuel (an indigene of Abia State) broke down into tears (He loves crying anyway). We spoke to a lot of inhabitants of the town who told us point-blank that the Governor had been neglecting them DELIBERATELY.
A particular person we spoke to spoke extensively about the governor’s corruption and that of his first son popularly called Ikuku (whatever that means). He regaled us with tales about how the governor, so as to frustrate local transporters started running an official transport line for the state. Not only that, his son also runs his own transport line.
Someone else told us about how Emeka Wogu, the Minister for Labour on his own started fixing one of the roads in Aba and the governor asked him to stop, for no reason. To him, that shows clearly that the governor has a deep-rooted hatred for them which even a visit to T.B Joshua cannot remove.
Myself and friends called up a youth corper who took us round. We went to the very popular Ariaria market and oh my! One word best describes Ariaria: ROT.
THE GOVERNOR’S ‘LEGACY’ PROJECTS
From Tuesday, the governor’s aides started taking us round the LEGACY projects. We visited a Dialysis centre (which is a PPP) project. We visited a new government house which is under construction (It looks like a 4 star hotel anyway), we visited the International Conference centre, the Helipad (situated in the village of a former COAS), the e-Library, many so-called ultra-modern markets (I saw nothing modern about them), school buildings and so on.
MY THOUGHTS ON THE PROJECTS
Asides the impressive Dialysis centre and the e-Library, I found and still find the projects to be white elephants which will eventually become too big to move. I see not how a New Government house will benefit Abians. I also do not see how the huge International Conference Centre will be of benefit to Abia’s economy.
I still wonder if the government felt we will have been impressed by the helipad. I mean really? Of what benefit is a helipad to a man selling shoes at Ariaria market?
I also found it befuddling that the governor’s aides were unable to give us on the spot answers as regards costs of the projects
TIMING OF THE PROJECTS
Theodore Orji has been governor for seven years. Yet, we saw only one or two completed projects. He claimed that he spent the first four years fighting the former governor and some unknown and unseen neon-eyed-gods. Whose business is that?
I find it hugely surprising that after spending seven years in power, all the governor could muster to show us were projects that ain’t even nearing completion. Was the governor sleeping before?
GOVERNMENT OF BILLBOARDS
As I mentioned earlier, there are more billboards of the governor than there are projects. I find it quite amusing that the governor’s billboards will sometimes be situated inside heads. Says a lot about him, hey?
SYCOPHANTS ON THE LOOSE
There was this guy who rode inside the same bus with me. He agreed with us all that the governor had not done well. I was however miffed when this same guy, during the interactive session with the governor was going to call the governor GOD. The guy incensed myself and others so much that if looks could kill, he would be dining with his long dead ancestors by now.
We also noticed that some people had been planted by government to ask questions which made the governor comfortabale
As for us? Chinedu had told the governor pointing to us YOUR EXCELLENCY, THAT GROUP IS A GROUP OF VERY SOPHISTICATED PEOPLE. And I think that scared the Governor a bit. So, when the governor’s people took two questions from us decided that they had had enough. They wont allow some ITKs embarrass the only OCHENDO GLOBAL, the Liberator of the Abians.
I won’t join the bandwagon of people who say the Governor has done nothing. You can however do something without actually doing anything You can actually be busy and not do anything meaningful.
Abians can and should do better during the next polls. Vote for proven technocrats, be it PDP, APC, LABOUR OR APGA party members. Abia is the only state that lags behind in the South-East and I know Abia cannot survive another four-years of an OCHENDO-LIKE leader. It would be akin to a disaster. Like the beginning of the end.
SCORE: As I feel unnecessarily generous today, I will score the Liberator of the Abians 26% for his efforts.
Ayokunle Odekunle, a Legal Practitioner is Op-Ed Editor of YNaija.com. He tweets from @oddy4real