If you want to decode a writer just ask, “Where he is from?” If this is not enough, add to the enquiry in which era does he live. In politics they say good politics is local; you may not find this in classical political science textbooks but if experience is anything to go by, I subscribe to the validity of this postulation. Penultimate weekend on this page I did a discourse on my home state captioned “Abia a sleeping giant at 24”. My contention was that the progress the state has recorded is not commensurate with its age, human and material resources available. It is a known fact among the more than 4 million inhabitants of the state that the kind of change the people want has been difficult to realize. When I decided to revisit the matter, I had two objectives in mind: the first was to check the menace of latter day revisionists who because they are beneficiaries of the order would stop at nothing to confuse the people and make them feel that what they see and feel is normal.
During the anniversary, I heard commentators equate expansion in territorial areas of Aba and Umuahia, increase in number of schools, addition in road routes as evidence that big progress has been made. What a big display of ignorance! The most ridiculous was the position that transference of the governorship office to Abia South senatorial zone amounted to full confirmation that Abia has lived out its dream. I listened to all these and I told myself that there is nothing system exploiters would not do or say to keep their selfish interest afloat at the expense of the people. It did not start today, history has so many chapters of such treacherous conduct and the same history posits that such bad infusions thrive and even become norms when unchallenged by critical minds and conscience of society. Recent events in Burkina Faso where the people rose to tell the military coup makers that enough is enough appear to support this position.
The other reason would be that I belong to the school of thought that insists that those who have gone on the road before should relive their experiences and prescriptions orally and in written form to avail successive generations the benefits of their involvements.
It is not important whether such persons were considered successful or failures; what is necessary and that we should note is that there were factors and variables which produced either of the results and it would be good to know so that we can strengthen the ones we find useful and discard others. But some folks believed I was not in good stead to make any observations on Abia for the low level reason that at some point-in-time I was part of the governance organogram. This for me is base thinking; service to community does not equate debarment from holding and offering opinion, which is part of the natural rights of any living being.
Also it is common knowledge for those who care to know that many subordinates are administratively far better than their bosses but are greatly hindered by the administrative protocol which limits them to what their masters accept. Again what do you make of hindsight if those who have gone before fail to place their encounters in public glare. It is because our leaders keep their experiences to themselves that we don’t know that even the poor suffering masses are the chief compromisers of their own destiny.
Let me stop there and go to the main point for today’s essay which is to go beyond admission that Abia development is stunted and give suggestions on what to do to make Abia State a modern enclave. Abia can become a modern state in 10 years and that would be if certain things are in place.
The first will be the desire which I think is now in place given the way the April 2015 governorship election went; what should follow is Abia Summit where acknowledged egg-heads would lead the people to re-fashion a 21st century vision covering all areas of need.
This blueprint should be religiously followed by all governments irrespective of personal or party change; the suggestion above does not remove the importance of having at all times a visionary, competent personality as governor. Machiavelli once said the king that desires to benefit from good counsel should himself be wise.
The truth is that many leaders these days can hardly decipher between good and bad advice and I think Abia has had its share of these. The plank for development must be merit driven and the current budget pattern must be done away with and replaced with one that would make ministries run a single or at best a double line emphasis for four years in the first instance and eight years where it is necessary. The anchor of the new vision should be productive/inventive economy and broad base human capital development. Every other thing revolves around this two. What are the other things: airport, seaport around Ukwa axis, Obuaku city, which should have both industrial and residential components.
Reclamation of Aba: standard roads, solid drainages, expansion of strategic streets, proper road markings and sign-posting, re-designation of the slum areas, new markets and more shopping plazas, modern waste evacuation system away from waste-bin on the road pattern and cessation of what has become known as Abia perfume by the temporary relocation of current dump sites away from the expressways and ultimately the establishment of waste treatment plants.
There is need for New Aba. Umuahia needs remodeling and part of it would be New Umuahia. Mechanized, integrated farming is important, just as international stadium and games village are imperatives; Abia Line transport can be reinvigorated to provide inter-and-intra city/state transport needs in a most modern way; internal railway system and water-line transportation are very viable options.
Our road construction has not been impactful because such roads technically lead nowhere; progressive road plan would first seek to properly link all the local governments in the state and that has not been the case and that explains why it is as if nothing has been done at all.
Abia needs productive kind of education that should be technology driven. Tasks in the sector include remodeling of school buildings and environment, curriculum review, teacher re-certification, training, motivation and scholarship, and education should be free. Ministry of Technology should be propelled to re-enact the Biafran inventive feat as Abia can become Africans’ Japan; merit, training and professionalism should be the hallmark of the state civil service. Abia has been very unfair to the rural areas and especially the oil producing area of Ukwa-West, which has the only functional oil well in the whole of Abia State. ASOPADEC which as meant to cater for them is not only staffed by people from other areas but spends huge funds doing jobs elsewhere like spending 300 million to fight flood menace in Ariaria, Aba while roads in Ukwa-West are impassable.
The modern Abia will require big dreams to get there and not the isolationist measures I see in successive administrations. (The Sun)