By Ben Udechukwu
As a school boy in Aba 1983, I witnessed irate youths who had threatened to boo Dee Sam Mbakwe. Dee Sam was not just a performing Governor, he was believed to have found a permanent place in the heart of people. We are Aba, we have a culture of asking for more no matter how annoying it may be.
This piece has nothing to do with comparing Dee Sam Mbakwe with Okezie Victor Ikpeazu Ph.D or any other. It is for us to understand that Aba trades in handcuffs and handshakes in equal measures. It takes only an articulate mind to understand that deep down in their hearts, they know who is helping their cause. By 1985, they had agreed to rename Faulks Road to Sam Mbakwe Road, the rest is history.
People who live overseas who had not visited Aba since Okezie mounted the saddle may not appreciate what is happening in Aba at this time. People who had written Aba off for coming easily as a city in ruins may fall to the temptation of thinking redemption is impossible. People who left the city in anticipation of progressive dilapidation could fall to the scam of thinking every bad road is found in Aba.
Let me say for free that Okezie does not have the capacity to address all infrastructural challenges in Aba. However, Okezie’s Aba holds promise of a city being recovered in phases. There’s something Okezie had done, is doing and would do in Aba that would definitely change the overall appearance of Aba. While it may not be so obvious now, there are strong indications that the end will surely jusyify the means.
At the risk of repeating myself, Okezie Ikpeazu is leading a silent infrastructural revolution that would be attested not by internet users but by thousands of traders at Ariaria market whose businesses faced extinction until the seeming intractable Ifeobara flood was checkmated and for the first time in as twenty years, commuters wee (and still are) able to use Faulks Road end to end from Brass and Ariaria junctions.
Those who have short sight related challenges are seeing traces of ditches on a road yet to be completed while tomorrow people are seeing a critical ingredient of ease of doing business accomplished in record time. While mischief makers would see part demolition of houses at Osusu Road to make way for a model road by an introspective thinker like Ikpeazu, residents are seeing the picture of Umule or perhaps something better being replicated at Osusu. Ikpeazu recovered Umule and is also recovering Osusu.
The burden of appreciating what the Governor is doing at Aba Owerri Road (though a federal road) lies on the thousands who had lost staggering man hours on that road to too many failed portions. Those who want ‘quick delivery’ would remember that getting the drainage right on that very important road has taken too long while those who believe in meaningful recovery would appreciate that in the final analyses Ikpeazu’s Aba Owerri Road will attract Aba’s handshake not handcuff. Already, Omni, Kamalu Street, MCC Road, Umuojima and Unuatako were not only built to last by Ikpeazu, they inadvertently complimented the strategic recovery of the city in phases in the interest of residents and the many businesses that had gone moribund owing to bad roads. Facebook users who didn’t know the state of these roads before the Ikpeazu touch would think it is nothing. We understand. Life could be difficult for the blind.
When the Governor started the flyover project at Osisioma, commuters who had been victims of the osisioma traffic logjam aporecitated Ikpeazu’s ingenuity. Those who imagine development as ‘wait and take’ will run their mouths. However, the recent move by the Governor to reconstruct the osisioma- EKEAKPARA road would mean that in no time, the bulk of businesses that had been buried within the Osisioma Industrial layout will be exhumed. They see delay. We see recovery in phases.
Eziukwu Road at this time to a mischievous bystander would look unserious. The banks, industrial clusters and business owners around Eziukwu road know that the road is undergoing strategic metamorphosis healthy for business growth. Those who are looking for images to record will mistake a road under construction as bad road. Residents of Ukaegbu, Ibadan Street,Echefu, Owerri Road, Ehere and Umuola would confirm that whatever Okezie starts, he must complete. Okezie’s only challenge is that he doesn’t know how to make a mountain out of a mole hill. He is recovering Aba in phases.
How did I arrive at this? It takes strategic thinking to build over twenty roads in the first instance to pave way for others. It takes ingenuity to partition Aba with the sole aim of ensuring that economic activities are given the required boost. If in 2019 Aba did not experience flood disaster as recorded in our neighboring States,then whatever Ikpeazu did in flood control worked. If in 2019, rigid pavement technology used already on over eight roads in Aba is being used to reconstruct Aba Owerri Road , bearing in mind the distance, then Aba will give Ikpeazu handshake and deservedly too.
Factor in Portharcourt Road, Omuma Road, Obohia and Ngwa Roads, then you will agree with me that only a progressive minded scholar in governance like Okezie Victor Ikpeazu Ph.D will be this ingenious. I am certain Aba will not forget. If they suggest anything less at this time, just remember what happened in 1983.
Udechukwu, a public affairs analyst writes from Aba.