Posted by Boniface Okoro, Umuahia | 21 January 2013 | 4,221 times
The essence of the social contract between leaders and the people they lead lies not just in the level of performance and delivery of democracy dividends, but more on the relevance of such deliveries to the socio-economic, political and cultural lives of the people. Simply put, the positive impact of democracy dividends on the lives of the people is the driving force and practical testimony of good governance.
Delivery of democracy dividends in the right quantity and mix at the desired environment influences the state of security at every given opportunity, affects the welfare of the masses and shapes their reactions to government programmes and policies.
Against this backdrop, the Good Governance Media Tour team landed in Abia State last Wednesday (Jan. 16) to critically examine the performance gauge of both the federal and state governments in the state.
The task of the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mr. Labaran Maku-led Good Governance Media Tour team was to move round the length and breadth of Abia and see for themselves, executed or on-going projects by the federal government as well as those done or being executed by the Abia State Government and councils in the state.
Projects identified with the federal government in Abia include the Alaoji Independent Power Project in Aba; the 132 KVA Ohiya sub-injection power station, the Oguduasaa Isuikwuato erosion control project, and, lately, patchy efforts at rehabilitating some Abia sections of the Enugu-Aba-Port Harcourt Expressway.
There may be others but it may not be out of place to emphasise that federal presence in Abia is not encouraging. Even constituency projects attracted by federal lawmakers in the 2012 fiscal year and captured in that year’s budget valued at over N2 billion have hardly taken off.
While Abians lament the poor presence of the federal government, their impression about the performance of the state government with respect to delivery of democracy dividends could not be the same but obviously, it would vary.
There are several state government projects scattered all over the state. On Wednesday, January 2, 2013 when he hosted journalists in the state, the governor, Chief Theodore Orji, spent 45 minutes articulating the projects executed or currently under construction by his administration.
This is how he gave his stewardship since he started doing his second term:
“For us in Abia, there are a lot of empirical things that you have on ground. I am sure that this year is going to be far better than last year.
“Since the beginning of the second tenure, you all know that there have been changes in governance and you know the reason; the reason being that we eventually liberated ourselves and we are free to perform for the people who voted us into power; free to do those things that the people want, free to consult and free for every stakeholder to make contribution in governance.
“We also were able to free ourselves from insecurity. Insecurity occasioned by the vicious and malicious activities of kidnappers and armed robbers. We fought that, we succeeded.
“We also have been able to move the state to the centre instead of being in opposition where you get practically nothing. We moved the state to centre of government where, at least, you have the influence of the federal government.
“We have been able also, to make Abia to be united; to evolve a participatory government, an inclusive government, not an exclusive government; where consultation is practiced; where appointments are made in consultation with people, based on what they can do for the people and not the other way round; where people are free and directed towards God Himself because this is God’s Own State.”
What the governor enumerated above are factors that have influenced the achievements his administrations have recorded so far.
He added: “It is now that we have started laying the foundation for a new Abia. Those things that are critical to development that we lacked all along, it is now that we have started them having taken care of kidnapping, having been on top of security, the next thing is development because if there is insecurity, there will be no development.”
There are several on-going projects in Abia, embracing almost all the sectors – health, housing, commerce and industry, education, environment, etc. Most of them were started about a year ago.
There is the New Government House under construction at Ogurube Layout, the International Conference Centre, the new Secretariat Complex of two blocks as well as the renovation of the old one; the Diagnostic Centre which has been expanded to include Dialysis and Ophthalmology Centres, all in the state capital, Umuahia. The Diagnostic Centre is replicated in the commercial town of Aba.
Still in the health sector, a new auditorium is being constructed for student doctors at the Abia State Teaching Hospital in Aba while the Amachara General Hospital in Umuahia is wearing the look of an international hospital with new buildings to accommodate all paraphernalia of medical practice: the nurses, the doctors, allied staff, laboratories, a theatre, wards and beds where the sick people will be accommodated so as to ease the pressure on Federal Medical Centre and also to provide primary health care for the people. This is in addition to over 250 health centres scattered in the 17 local government areas.
The Timber Market has been relocated to a better place while the vacated former Timber Market is being converted to a housing estate. There is also the Umuahia Modern Market in Ubani Ibeku nearing completion and may be put to use before the end of the year.
The judiciary has benefitted, too. The Magistrate Courts in Aba and Umuahia have been modernised, the Ministry of Justice now has a permanent edifice while the new High Court complex is nearing completion.
A new 48-room office complex is being built for the state-owned radio, BCA.
In the energy sector, the state government awarded a contract for evacuation of power from the Ohiya 123 KVA sub-station and since May last year when the power evacuation commenced, Umuahia and its environs have witnessed an improved power supply.
Still in under construction of office complexes, a 24-room building that would serve as constituency offices for legislators in the State House of Assembly has sprang up and needs finishing touches. These projects are besides the on-going road projects. In Aba alone, 16 roads are being simultaneously rehabilitated. It is hoped that the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) would give another 10 roads in the city a facelift.
Governor Orji in his New Year letter to Abians, said: “The delivery of Umuahia Modern Market will herald our season of harvest in project celebrations as the following giant leaps would have been queued for public presentation; New Workers Secretariat, New International Conference Center, New High Court Complex at Umuahia and Aba, New kidney Dialysis and Ophthalmology Center at the Specialist Hospital Umuahia, New Children Centre and Doctors residence at Amachara Annex of Abia Specialist Hospital et al.”
In the Abia political performance lexicon, these projects are referred to as legacy projects.
The governor put it this way: “Our projects are tagged Legacy Projects. This is a legacy government with a legacy governor doing legacy projects.
“Those projects we call legacy projects are projects that will out-live all of us; projects for which you and will be remembered when we must have left this seat.”
Candidly speaking, 2013 marks the beginning of the years of harvest of democracy dividends in Abia. These are achievements not just the Abia State Government would like to celebrate with fanfare, even federal government and the Peoples Democratic Party, with 2015 in view, would celebrate the delivery of these democracy dividends with greater funfair. As a year of harvest in Abia, 2013 would be a year of commissioning of projects. And you can be sure there must be a tray bearing a pair of glittering scissors for the cutting of the ribbon that would already be in place to indicate that a particular project is ready for inauguration.
•Photo (L-R): Gov. Theodore Orji, Information Minister Labaram Maku, and during the tour of the International conference centre nearing completion by the Good Governance Media team in Umuahia. Photo: Ibeabuchi Abarikwu.
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