DONS EZE, PhD
IN SEARCH OF FED GOVT PROJECTS IN THE SOUTH EAST
The Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Uche Ogah, has put us into a very high jump. He claimed that the Peoples Democratic Party governors in the South East have been taking credit for projects embarked upon by the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government.
Answering questions from from State House Correspondents, after the Federal Executive Council meeting at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, last week, Minister Ogah claimed that in most of the states, the governors present such interventions by the Federal Government as coming from their political party.
“If you look at it, you will know that the entire South East is governed by the PDP. Most of the Federal Government’s interventions are not communicated to the people, they try to appropriate these interventions; that is what you need to understand. But we have tried as much as possible to let them understand that these are the things that the Federal Government has been doing”, the Minister said.
He continued: “In most of the states, you see the governors converting most of these interventions as their own party’s interventions rather than the Federal Government’s intervention.”
Since the Minister granted that interview, we have been out in the fields, trying to search for Federal Government’s projects in the South East, in order to authentic the report, and to verify the claims.
First, we know that as of now, the PDP has two governors in the South East (Enugu and Abia); APC also has two, (Imo and Ebonyi); while APGA has only one (Anambra). So, the Minister’s assertion that “the entire South East is governed by the PDP”, is not true.
When we set out to verify Federal Government’s projects in the South East, we first landed at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, and saw that only its runway was completed after one full year of closing the airport, while every other section remains unattended to, or is haphazardly executed.
We did not however hear any state governor take credit for that project. The day the runway was commissioned, most of the South East Governors were there, and they were singing praises to the Federal Government.
From Akanu Ibiam International Airport, we took a five-minute walk to the Federal Government owned Anambra Motor Manufacturing Company (ANAMMCO), Emene, Enugu, and found the place as dead as graveyard, no activity.
From Emene, we came down to Enugu town, to check on the eastern wing of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), but saw that nothing was going on there. The Port Harcourt, to Aba, to Enugu, to Makurdi rail line, which was one of the busiest in the country, is a ghost of itself, abandoned. It was not part of the railway revitalization programme of the Federal Government, for which Nigeria had obtained loan from China.
We then checked on Minister Ogah’s main constituency, the coal industry in Enugu. No life. They were even alleging that the company’s properties were being sold off.
We then took a chartered vehicle to Onitsha, through Ugwu Onyeama, only to have our hips nearly broken to pieces and our vehicle fallen inside the gullies, due to the poor state of the road. We then began to wonder how the hundreds of vehicles that pass through that road would go home for Christmas.
From Ninth Mile Corner, we thought of going northwards, through Obollo Afor to Makurdi, but got stuck along the way, because the road was too bad.
We decided to come back, to continue with the original plan of going to Onitsha. On our way, we made a flag stop at Oji River to check whether the thermal power station there had come on stream, and also, if the Greater Oji Water Scheme, had been completed, only to see the two projects completely abandoned.
For more than two hours, we had struggled to make our way to Onitsha, meandering through bush paths, as most parts of the Enugu-Onitsha expressway were impassable.
We were elated when we got to Onitsha and visited the grave of the first President of Nigeria, Rt. Hon. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, and saw that the Grave Project, which was started since 1995, had been completed. We then gave five “gbosaas” to the Federal Government.
With great expectations and high hopes, we made a quick dash down to the almighty Second Niger Bridge to see the progress of work there, only to be disappointed that work is progressively at snail-speed. On inquiry, we were told that everything centred on slow release of funds to the contractors. We prayed that the project would meet the already announced completion period.
At Onitsha-Owerri Road, we fell into many ditches due to the bad state of the road, and it was only by the special grace of God that we did not break any of our ribs.
The Owerri to Okigwe Road, as well as the Port Harcourt, to Aba, to Umuahia, to Okigwe, to Enugu Expressway, were terribly in bad state, which made us to be hopping from one corner of the road to the other, throughout the journey.
At the end of the whole show, we did not see any Federal Government project that was completed in the South East, which the governors were taking credit, except Zik’s Grave in Onitsha, which the Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano, had dutifully credited to the Federal Government.
We then began to wonder where Minister Uche Ogah had got his facts, first, that all the South East Governors were PDP members, and second, that these governors were claiming Federal Government projects?
We would therefore like the Minister to take us on facility visit to these Federal Government projects going on in the South East, unless our eyes were deceiving us.
Dr. Dons Eze, KSJI