Posted by Emmanuel Onwubiko | 5 November 2014 | 3,707 times
In well over two decades as an active writer, journalist and media strategist, I have had many reasons to have written and made suggestions on the situation of Aba, the commercial capital of Abia State, in terms of the systemic and deep-rooted neglects that it has gone through. And I can say, without any fear of contradiction, that the last eight years has seen the most primitive and criminal neglect of the state of infrastructure in Aba, especially by the current administration. The concomitant and/or cumulative effect of this abysmal abandonment of that city by the political mal-administrators in Abia State is that Aba now wears the look of a 14th century weather-beaten township – no thanks to the collapsed state of roads and other basic necessities of life.
In Aba, as I write, most people who cherish the decent things that money can buy have felt that since the politicians in Umuahia, the political capital seem to have abandoned the people to their cruel fate of total lack of any functional modern-day infrastructures and those amenities that make lives meaningful and constructive, they are beginning to migrate to places like Port Harcourt in Rivers State. Many have even emigrated to foreign countries where civilisation and modernity are ever present.
For several years, the people of Aba have never known anything like subsidised potable pipe-borne water: the only source of drinking water have always been the boreholes that have sprang up all over the poorly maintained streets. Aba, unfortunately, has speedily lost its pride of place as the centre of commercial excellence and one town whereby all Igbo can proudly identify as their own, given that it is a microcosm of the South-East. The naming of streets from days immemorial epitomises the above stated existential fact.
From recorded history by those who know Aba, it is classified as a cosmopolitan city and a big trading centre. A contributor to Wikipedia, the online free encyclopedia, stated that on creation of Abia State in 1991, Aba was divided into two local government areas, namely: Aba South and Aba North. Aba South is the main city centre and the heart beat of Abia State, Southe-East Nigeria.
It is located on the famous Aba River and reportedly made up of many villages such as; Umuokpoji-Aba, Eziukwu-Aba, Obuda-Aba, Aba-Ukwu, and other adjoining villages from Ohazu, merged for administrative convenience.
In the thinking of the above quoted chronologist, which I don’t subscribe totally to, Aba was established by the Ngwa clan of Igbo people of Nigeria as a market town. Later, a military post was placed there by the British colonial administrators in 1901. It lies along the west bank of the Aba River. The above stated author was economical with the entire facts of how Aba came to become a metropolitan town that has this pulling force for all Igbo speaking people; because the place called Aba today was actually built by the sweat of all residents, irrespective of whether they are Ngwa or not. Aba, no doubt, is an Ngwa town but in actuality it was built by all the people drawn from virtually the entire South-east.
On the neglected state of public and institutional infrastructure in Aba, a writer who contributed an article on the historical position of Aba as the foremost township for all Igbo people, stated: “The current state of Aba bespeaks an atrocious indignity on the residents of the once thriving city of commerce. Aba has been brought to its knees by years of systemic rot and obtuse negligence that only came short of an executive assault on the people.
''Nobody outside Aba can fairly estimate the horrifying extent of dilapidation in the city that once prided itself as the hub of commerce in Eastern Nigeria. It is rather tough to believe there is a government in place anywhere near Aba. In saner climes, the chaos called Aba would only exist in places where law and order; state and local governments; budget implementation and policy pronouncements are non-existent....”
This writer cited above has actually summed up the totality of criminal neglect that Aba has faced over the years, especially since the last eight years. Worst still, I was told that there is a killer squad in the entire Abia State whose job is to mark out critics of the administration, and that any sign of disagreement with the status quo would result in the disappearance of such a critic. But how can a population live under perpetual fear of the unknown? How can the population in Abia State go through this horrendous neglect from their own government, and yet are not allowed to express their opinions freely? How did Abia State get to this lowest state of anarchy and tyranny? Interestingly, the entire governorship aspirants have already promised to bring about the comprehensive repairs of the extensive damage to the state of infrastructure in Aba city, with the plan to once more restore it to become the pride of place for all Igbo-speaking people globally.
The voters must shine their eyes so that they can elect a governor that they can hold to his words; they must never elect a person of doubtful origin and/or someone who is not on ground in that state. Luckily, there are a few of these aspirants who have good background in businesses that can be traced and who have good reputations that cannot be toyed with. Aba should be the premier campaign issue for the 2015 election and the people must extract a binding social contract with whosoever will have their votes.
The way to go about it is that the credible representatives of the different blocs such as organised town councils; faith-based leaders of all the major Christian religious affiliations such as the Catholic and the Anglican and also the Pentecostal churches that have earned the respect and trust of the people, should be tasked to enter into constructive and open agreement with all the leading candidates of all the political parties authorised by the electoral panel to present candidates for the governorship poll on the mission to reconstruct Aba. Such candidates must be tasked to tell the people how this noble objective will be achieved and also state the penalty that could be enforced, should they fail to meet the timeline of the rescue mission.
•RIGHTSVIEW appears twice a week on Wednesday and Saturdays, in addition to special appearances. The Columnist, popular activist Emmanuel Onwubiko, is a former Federal Commissioner of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission and presently National Coordinator of Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA).
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