The new Abia mindset, by Okechukwu Ukegbu

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Abia Tower at Umuahia
Abia Tower at Umuahia

Before now, several issues bore negative testimo­nies on Abia (the God’s On State), especially Aba, the state’s commercial heartbeat. The refuse situation of Aba got to a point that one celebrated columnist, who later became a member of the lower chamber of the National Assembly named the refuse dumps littering the nooks and crannies of Aba the flower pot of a former governor of the state.

Aba was also seen as a disor­derly city and a metaphor for chaotic traffic system where motorists, especially the com­mercial ones among them park their vehicles indiscriminately and pick passengers at random.

Not only that the ugly re­fuse situation has since been addressed during Governor Okezie Ikpeazu’s tenure as the Depu­ty General Manager of the state environmental protection agen­cy, ASEPA, Ikpeazu’s led-ad­ministration has also sustained and improved the refuse situa­tion since its inception and the ugly refuse testimony and neg­ative narrative of the commer­cial hub have since disappeared.

On the same measure, Ikpea­zu’s government has stepped up efforts to delete every negative attribute previously associated with Aba in particular and Abia in general .The latest effort is the inauguration of a-12 man tech­nical committee on the harmo­nisation of motor parks and me­chanic villages in the state.

The mandate of the committee chaired by a renowned lawyer and a man with robust track re­cord of achievements, St. Moses Ogbonna are to create motor/ trailer parks and mechanic vil­lages at the outskirt of the metro­politan cities; establishing a me­chanic and allied villages close to motor parks.

Others are the establishment of a data bank for vehicle operators to checkmate crime, to suggest locations for citing of mega mo­tor parks and mechanic villages in the three senatorial zones; to harmonise effective routes of ve­hicle operation for easy accessi­bility by passengers; and to in­itiate any other action that will help them realise the objectives for which they were constituted.

Surely, if the committee deliv­ers on its mandate, in the next six months, Abia, especially Aba will be the envy of other cities across the country. From my brief inter­action with the chairman of the committee, St. Moses Ogbonna, my assessment is that he has very bright ideas of his responsibili­ties and possesses the requisite capacity to deliver, barring any unforeseen impediments. His words: “My committee will do all within its ability to turn Abia cities around, to the envy of oth­er states and people who hitherto thought that Abia will continue to lag behind. The beauty of Abia will manifest through the Trans­port Ministry”. I strongly believe that the duo of Barr. St. Moses Ogbonna and another cerebral lawyer in the house, a former commissioner in the state and presently Adviser to Ikpea­zu on transport, Akujuobi Nkoro will ‘walk their talk’.

It will be recalled that prior to the inauguration of the12-man technical committee, Abia State had established the Traffic & In­discipline Management Agen­cy of Abia State (TIMAAS). The mandate of the agency include traffic control & enforcement of state and national laws that gov­ern the safe use of vehicles on roads in Abia State; to deter and apprehend road traffic offenders; to conduct highly visible day & night traffic patrols ; to enforce traffic rules and regulations; and to rid the highways of obstruc­tion, among others.

The agency which is backed by Abia State Road Traffic and Safe­ty Management Law No 2 of 2010 and Law No 12 (as amended) of 2015 had the passing out parade (POP) of its personnel on 27th January, 2016 .They were trained at the Federal Road Safety Acad­emy, Udi, Enugu State where they were exposed to knowledge of traffic signs and control, the psychology of road users, acci­dents and victims’ agility.

The establishment of the agen­cy has not only improved the employment situation in the state- over 200 graduates, Na­tional Diploma and School Cer­tificate holders were employed by the agency- but has restored sanity on Abia roads. At strategic locations in the state, young men and women smartly dressed in their yellow and black uniform control the traffic.
Unarguably, Abia under Ik­peazu’s administration is on the speed lane to achieve many hubs- the small/medium scale enterprises (SME) hub of the country and the poultry hub of the country. With these achieve­ments, the state is an investors’ destination and these negative narratives must change imme­diately.

It is on the above premise that the state government recent­ly banned all forms of touting, explaining that the embarrass­ing activities of touts have been projecting the state in a very bad light and warned that it would do everything in its power to en­sure that the ban stands.
The ban has been in force since the State House of As­sembly passed a law to that ef­fect. Unfortunately, these touts have always defied the direc­tive. But the state government has stamped its feet this time around and has directed securi­ty agencies in the state to arrest anybody found touting. The state Commissioner for Information, Comrade Bonnie Iwuoha said it was the decision of State Exec­utive Council, adding that the state government frowns at the high level of touting in all parts of the state. According to him, since the present administration has zero tolerance for such ille­gality, it decided to ban it in all forms.

Indeed, there is need to rev­olutionise the Abia mindset. Despite the huge efforts of the current administration, some residents of the state either by omission or commission are sabotaging these efforts. For a couple of days now, announce­ments by the state environmen­tal agency, ASEPA have rented the air through local radio sta­tions, drawing attentions of the public to some negative practic­es.

One, despite huge sums in­vested by the state in construc­tion of roads and drainages, some residents are of the habit of dumping refuse in these drain­ages with the intentions of dis­posing through the aid of storm water. The implication of this is that the refuse will block the drainages and expose the new­ly-constructed roads to flooding. In turn, after sometime the roads will deteriorate again.

Second, some individuals who run car wash operations along some reconstructed major roads in Aba such as St. Michael’s and Ochefu have defied directives by ASEPA to vacate the places. Their activities constitute major threats to these roads as some corrosive materials they use in their operations could fast-track the erosion of these roads.

Gov. Ikpeazu has reiterated that the new Abia philosophy is “quality” and he is poised to de­liver to Abians roads that would outlast his administration. Ac­cording to him, it is unfortunate eventually a government secures loan facilities to construct roads and within its term secures an­other loan to rehabilitate them.

On this note, my appeal is multi-dimensional. ASEPA should go beyond media an­nouncements to adopt other measures within the ambit of the law to ensure strict compli­ance from the defaulting public. Abia residents should have it at the back of their mind that the duty of recovering Abia from huge infrastructural deficit and restoring its dignity is a collec­tive responsibility. It is hightime the Abia mindset is revolution­ised. Let us embrace the new Abia mindset.

  • Ukegbu is the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the Abia State Governor on Media

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