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It is not going to be easy but Okezie can/will do it -Neighbors4Okezie

By Neighbors4Okezie
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When we decided to support His Excellency Dr Okezie Victor Ikpeazu for Abia Governorship we had two principal issues at the back of our minds: equity and Aba infrastructure renewal. Unlike many others we knew the political history of Abia State including issues of social injustice as well as the true state of Aba which is not only the commercial hub of Abia State but also the most important city to Ndigbo all over the world.

There were many contestants for Abia governorship using different political platforms and we had first hand information on all of them. Our choice was made after due consideration of the pedigree of each of them in relation to the key issues we formulated as well as demonstrated capacity and passion to do what must be done to move Abia and Ala Igbo forward. None of the contestants can easily be written off because they were all great sons and daughters of Abia who have done well in their chosen areas. Yet four of them stood out for us for various reasons: Dr Okezie Victor Ikpeazu, Dr Sampson Uche Ogah, Dr Alex Otti and Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe. All of them can easily slot into the office of President of Nigeria and do a great job given their above average education, work experience and demonstrated capacity.

Dr Okezie stood out for us because of his humility, public and private sector experience, Aba/Ngwa origin, relative freshness within the political structure of Abia State, knowledge of what needs to be done, focused vision, service record at Aba, personal values and passion for our people. While his rivals have some of these qualities in varying degrees, he came out tops in our overall assessment as the man who will deliver the goods with the required speed and quality while unifying the state (indigene/ residents) to move forward as one.

To the glory of God majority of Abians and residents agreed with our assessment and the rest is history. Okezie is Abia's Governor-Elect and It is now time to go to work starting from May 29th.

Our agenda as a group for the Governor-Elect revolves around one of the key reasons we backed him-infrastructure renewal at Aba with particular reference to roads. We have therefore identified the following roads that require urgent attention at Aba and will also forward videos of their current state to HE Dr Okezie Ikpeazu for urgent attention. The roads are not grouped in any particular order. (1) Port-Harcourt Road (2) Uratta Road (3) Cemetery – Ngwa Road - Ogbor-Hill bypass Road (4) Ohanku Road – Onu Mmiri Port-Harcourt Road (5) Obohia Road (6) Etche Road (7) Ulasi Road (8) Osusu Road (9) Omuma Road – Ariaria (10) Eziukwu Village Road (11) MCC Junction – Faulks Road-Ariaria (12) Tonimas Junction – Faulks Rd. Seven Deck Umule Road (13) Ukwuapu Umule – Living World Aba/Owerri Road (14) Eziukwu Rd. /Milverton - Okigwe Road (15) Sacred Heart (16) Faulks Road (17) Umuochiam Road (18) Umuatako Road 19.) Ukwu Mango - Express (19) Ariaria Market Ring Road (20) Umuola Road, Ogbor-Hill (21) People’s Road Ogbor-Hill (23) Ukaegbu Road Ogbor-Hill (24) Dikenafai Street Ngwa Road (25) Arochukwu Street Ngwa Road (26) Arondinzuogu Road Ngwa Road (27) Mbaise Street Ohanku Road (28) Aja Road Ohanku (29) Item Road Ohanku (30) Akoli Road Ohanku (31) Evina Road Ohanku (32) Iheorji Avenue Ohanku Road – Obohia Road(33) Ahia Udele (Waterside) (34) Ndoki Road - East Street – Etche Road Field (35) Danfiodo road- East Street- Water Side (36) Jubilee Road – Mosque- East Street- Water Side (37) Market Road - Mosque- East Street- Water Side (38) Ehi Road - Mosque- East Street- Water Side (39) Old Court Street (Back of CKC Church) (40) Alozie Avenue Umueze (Dority Sec.School(41) Egbelu Road Umungasi Road (42) Opopo Junction ikot Ekpene High way (43) Ovom Road OgborHill Road (44) Ezimba Road Ogbor Hill (45) New Umuahia Road (46) Ibadan Road Obohia Road(47) Igbere Road – Ohazu (Nkwo Ngwa Mkt – PorthHarcourt Road) (48) AGC Ehere Road (49) Umuojima Road – Express Road (50) Kamalu Road Beside – Star Papermill (51) Okpu-umuobo road (Aba Owerri Road) (52) Comprehensive Road (Aba Owerri Road) (53) Nwala Street off Faulks road

While attention is being paid to the above roads and others, there is also the need to change the aesthetic look of Aba by paying attention to sanitation practices, construction of good roundabouts and repainting of private and public buildings. We think that Osisioma junction, PH road-Express junction,Opobo junction, Brass junction, Park-Milverton junction, Ngwa road-Cemetery junction and Bata junction need modern roundabouts possibly with waterfalls and green touch of flowers. We also believe that Okigwe road, Osusu road, Faulks road, Ngwa road and Ukaegbu road can be divided with street and traffic lights installed. Functional street/traffic lights should also be installed along Aba-Owerri road, PH road, Ikot-Ekpene road and Azikiwe road in the first instance. Ariaria market ring road from "Ogbo osisi" to A-line should also be lit with street lights after reconstruction. Same with East street and Eziukwu road.

Then there are the ubiquitous sanitation issues at Aba. We are recommending 4 levels of intervention by the incoming administration of Dr Okezie Ikpeazu to take out this perennial challenge and make Aba the cleanest city in Africa. First we wish to advice the government to remove dump sites from visible portions of the Enugu-PH highway. Detour roads should be constructed to enter deeper into the dump pits from at least 500m off the highway. The sight visitors see while traveling through the Abia portion of the highway is simply nauseating. We recommend that the incoming regime beautify the current visible portions by planting palm trees along the roads to block off views to the dump area that will be relocated deeper into the forest.

Secondly, the government needs to urgently evacuate the refuse at the receptacles along PH road, Aba-Owerri road and other major roads that are presently messing up large portions of the roads and also impacting smooth traffic. After the evacuation, the receptacles should be relocated to side streets while the original Okezie ASEPA evacuation plan is resuscitated and given necessary government support with more evacuation vehicles to serve the 25 sanitation zones at Aba. Among others, there should be strict enforcement of restricted disposal period of 5pm to 11pm daily and offenders punished heavily.

We think it is now time to license at least 100 private waste collection agents to go house to house daily and collect separated wastes from all the 25 zones in Aba. Each agent should be given streets to cover and must own at least two collection trucks that will make minimum of 5 collection runs per week to all the households registered with them for a fee. Households that cannot pay should use the public receptacles within the designated disposal period. It is also needful for the government to bring in foreign firms and know-how to establish waste conversion companies that will harvest the over 5000 tonnes per day wastes churned out from Aba and convert them to wealth for Abians. With Geometric ready to go into commercial sale of power it is our position that power supply will no longer be a hindrance to establishment of modern waste conversion plants in Abia.

To sustain the government's effort in waste management, massive social re-orientation campaigns should be embarked on by the government from street level up. Landlord associations should be engaged to help educate their tenants on the need to properly dispose wastes instead of sneaking out at rainy nights to dump them into gutters and drainage ways. Landlords should be held responsible where such practices persist. There should be harsh punishment for those who throw wastes out of vehicles and into the streets. The landlords and market unions should also help encourage their tenants and members to plant trees in front of every house at Aba and all these will be supported with a focused media campaign on radio, television and print media. We recommend a special team to manage the social re-orientation aspect of the waste management agenda to ensure success.

Aba residents have suffered in the hands of all manner of revenue collection agents and their touts. It appears to us that anyone can just print a government letterhead, gather touts and rogue policemen and go to the streets of Aba to extort money from our hapless people. Our investigations show that even Keke riders (poverty alleviation scheme) and transporters are not spared. Imagine someone riding keke to feed his family being forced to pay N300 daily and N3000 monthly by unscrupulous people masquerading as "unions" and "task force". His Excellency should save our people from this horror within one week of his swearing in. He needs to disband all task forces, unions and revenue collection agents in Abia that have terrorized ndi Aba. In this modern banking era, we do not need private revenue contractors to collect government funds at a fee and the multiple levies and taxes should be harmonized into one. Within our group, Neighbors4Okezie, we have experts that can help the government set up a secure payment platform in association with banks. Enforcement of payments can be done through proper delineation and census of all residents of Abia as done in Lagos. There is really no wheel to re-invent as we can copy existing good models from other states.

Let us put the touts of Aba to decent legal work by incorporating them into a new and properly led traffic management agency that will wear suit and tie to support traffic management at Aba. Cars are parked indiscriminately at Aba thereby further narrowing existing roads and there is the need to end that through construction of commercial car parks at key locations. Heavy trucks should also be stopped at Osisioma Truck Park and allowed to enter Aba town only from 8pm to 6am. But we now need to increase the number of taxis and buses running within Aba city as well as ban Keke from plying major roads like Aba-Owerri road, PH road, Ikot-Ekpene road and others. They should concentrate on trunk C roads and side streets while taxi cabs and buses ply major roads with new modern bus stops.

There should be concerted push towards developing a new Aba city to de congest the old city. With the mega mall at Osisioma new residential and commercial quarters should be encouraged to develop around the area through public-private partnership that will see the government constructing access roads and providing lands to private estate development agencies. The government should also not shy away from pulling down illegal structures blocking drainages at Aba. Where necessary, street markets should be closed and traders relocated to the new mega mall and other modern markets. Courage is necessary at this time to tackle Aba issues for the good of the greater majority of our people.

As a well informed group, we know about the dwindling revenue of the state with the high wage bill of Abia State that will necessarily make funding of good development projects difficult. The incoming government therefore needs to get money from outside the federal allocation and current meager IGR to do the needful before coming back to our people for improved IGR. If Abians see positive footprints they will pay happily and even help do some minor roads. Dr Ikpeazu should consider borrowing to fund infrastructure renewal from local and foreign sources. There are funds available outside the country from donor agencies but to get them you need to introduce transparent accounting and management systems with professionals at the helm across board. A good starting point will be to introduce quality management systems within the civil service and negotiate home old archaic workers within the service through guaranteed private sector led pension system and rewards for voluntary exit. Civil servants that cannot operate computers should be eased out and replaced. Abia state civil service is in dire need of renewal and we are sure you understand our position more than any other person. Retraining might not be enough and the ultra-modern foundational structures put in place by the outgoing Ochendo regime will need "ultra-modern" manpower to match. This is not the time for political correctness and reward for political support. It is time for professionals to take Abia to the next level.

The task before His Excellency is enormous but we elected him because we knew about his enormous capacity for innovation and facing challenges squarely. If he starts well he will have the prayers and energy of 4m Abians behind him. But if he loses the opportunity to make a mark within his first 100 days he may never recover from there. Of course he must not forget that he inherited the same people who made life unbearable for Ochendo. Silence them within 100 days or they will do to him much more than they did to gentleman Ochendo Global. Most Abians will wait and see who are in his cabinet and then they will want to see if he will show up at Ohanku road on 30th of May with contractors pointing out what has to be done. They know the ugba eating Okezie but now they want the keke riding "dorty" carrying Okezie they equally love. They want him to show up at Ariaria without sirens to show contractors what to do. He will win their hearts if he brings expatriate Julius Berger staff with him to PH road on 31st of May. The last time Aba saw good contractors was more than 35 years ago under Mbakwe with MCC leading the way. Doc can use JB, Arab contractors and others to do major roads and planned surface drainages and Aba will not mind him using local contractors to do Owerri road, Ukaegbu and other trunk C roads. Aba wants to see caterpillars more than any other thing.

Our Governor-elect can do it. It is his destiny to do it. God is with him as he does it and we will continue to support and pray for him.

Congrats once more, HE Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, on your well deserved victory. As much as possible, carry everyone along including those who contested against you. Spare no effort in unifying the state as we also urge your opponents to sheath their swords and work with you since they all claimed it was always about Abia, not personal greed for power.