The Old Abia and the reality of a state under reconstruction

The reality of the ongoing reconstructions is that nothing comes without sacrifice and the sacrifices required in Abia state today cut across being in government and holding political offices, every residents and indigene of Abia state must be ready and prepared to support what the Alex Otti led Labour party government is doing to achieve its ultimate aim”

By Njoku SaintJerry A.

Abraham Lincoln, one of America’s finest leader said; Give me 6 hours to cut down a tree, I will spend the first 4 hours to sharpen the axe” then rest assured the tree is certain to go down with focused energy on the 2 hours. That is the result of sacrifice, simply put; one must learn by sacrifice of time and planning, the primary and essential skills before moving ahead into any venture including politics.

It took about 24 years of an infamous political administration to deconstruct Abia from a onetime center of commerce and industry, SME hub and heart of entertainment and tourism. – At least I remembered, Ghana music, one of the finest piece of Highlife Music from West Africa. Ghana Music was made in Aba with the likes of Canadoes, City Boys, Okukuseku and more, all hitting gold in Enyimba City with more than enough supply of GG (Golden Guinea) Beer from Umuahia. Aba was not only the center of Industry and Commerce but the heart of entertainment in Southern Nigeria.

In my first trip overseas, I had my luggage packed full with Aba Tailor made clothes, Opanka sandals (Pure leader sandals better than the Italian you brag about today). Aba represented the China and Japan of Africa!
I arrived China in the early years of 2000 and the Chinese were so captivated at the quality of the materials I brought from Aba that they requested I get them some including my ‘Opanka Sandals’.

Next time I returned to Aba, precisely Umuahia after about 10 years sojourn overseas, I found a disorganized once vibrant center of commerce, entertainment and industry and the artisans virtually deserted.
I went to the old GG factory in Umuahia, It was overtaken by weeds and the famous beer of the 80’s and 90’s completely withdrawn from the shelf of distributors.

I was amazed and grossly appalled at the extent of damage orchestrated by political state actors harping on the wings of Nigeria’s new found democratic system to bring such a vibrant south east region down to its knees.
Abia state was virtually gone and drowned under for all the 24 locust years of PDP so much that indigenes could not look up with boldness and say; “I am from Abia.”

Virtually entire streets of Enyimba city was decorated with heaps of garbage, the quiet town of tourism housing the Ojukwu Bunker (a reminiscent of the courage and ingenuity of the Biafran struggle) was decrepit with no functional street light anywhere, the people were disillusioned, the leadership disoriented with governance brought to an all time low by inexperienced opportunists acting as defacto governors for vested interests behind the scene.

Governance was simply run on giant billboards emblazoned across the cities screaming of nonexistent achievements of political state actors enmeshed in self deceit and confusion.

This was the situation in the old Abia, when men, without any known organizational skill, unfit and unprepared for leadership roles, were foisted over the state against the wishes of the people until 18th March 2023, and for 24 wasted years they could not bring in any meaningful development but destruction, shame and ridicule that made an art of sycophancy, ignorance and self conceit.

Today, that old Abia is gone for the reality of a future that once appeared far-fetched.
At the first sight of the Aba- Port Harcourt road that is under heavy construction as I write, one could not imagine that men who answered to the call of political leadership could be so heartless and withdrawn from the reality of economic cycle so much that they literally abandoned the economic engine of the city, chased away thriving businesses including schools along the heavy economic road until the emergence of the Governor Alex Otti led Labour Party government.
Today, Businesses that folded up and landed properties that depreciated have begin to receive a boost as construction giant Julius Berger work night and day to beat delivery deadline

I visited Ukwa East and West, the region that listed Abia State as recipients of the NDDC 13% derivation fund yet it has suffered so much economic and infrastructure neglect, I was at the ground breaking ceremony of the Abia State Industrial Innovation Park, as I write over a 100 foreign development partners have registered interest in the mega project that is about to unveil the first Modular Refinery in the south east region by 2025, Work is ongoing, youths in the region have found ready-made employment, the Aba-Port Harcourt Road under construction by the Alex Otti government runs across this route in less than 30 minutes from the city, in addition to the Port Harcourt-Aba railway project that is near completion, opening up the economic potentials of the Ukwa region that was once abandoned by previous political actors that lacked the focus, skill and preparation that competent leadership requires

If you visit Umuahia today, the state capital, you will notice a city under heavy reconstruction including the retrofitting of public facilities like schools and healthcare centers, street lighting that once was a rare sight, opening up of entire urban town to match with the status of the New Abia under the Governor Alex Otti administration.
As the administrative capital of the state government, those civil servants that were once neglected and disillusioned for years due to unpaid wages and lack of proper welfare provisions has assumed their best in service delivery with competent men and women appointed to head ministries and parastatals of government, if you visit the Government Sectariat housing all government offices today, signs of complete overhaul of entire government infrastructure is very obvious.

The reality of these ongoing reconstructions is that nothing comes without sacrifice and the sacrifices required in Abia state today cut across being in government and holding political offices, every residents and indigene of Abia state must be ready and prepared to help and support the administration of Alex Otti led Labour party government to achieve its ultimate focus of rebuilding the state to its former status as South East Center of Commerce and Industry. 

Just as the deconstruction and ruin left by the former occupants of government house left everybody disconnected and deprived from benefits of good governance, in the same manner the reconstruction process ongoing in Abia state will be delayed and sometime frustrated if citizens permits the noise and distractions of those who never wish the state any good but blinded by their own greed and the comfort of their selfish interest to destabilize the activities of government in the name of opposition. Just as they were resisted and thrown out of the court rooms by the judiciary, every lover of good governance in Abia state should continue to reject the moles and agents of distraction and failure that do not wish the Alex Otti led Labour party government well, rise and defend the reconstruction process for the New Abia of our dream.

Njoku Jerry Ajike is the State Publicity Secretary, Labour Party, Abia

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