In line with his administration’s transformation agenda and in keeping with his promise of fast tracking the development of the state, the Abia state government under Chief TA Orji has continue to embark on development projects across all sectors of the state’s economy. The last few months has witnessed unprecedented activities in the various sectors which could be best approached sectorially.
At the last count, more than 38 road projects have been awarded in various parts of the state. Some have been completed while others are at various stage of completion. Notably among these is the recently commissioned Ukwu mango road, Aba abandoned by past governments for 20 years. This vital link to the Ariaria international market, has given residents of the area a new lease of life as normal commercial activities have resumed in the area. The list below provides an insight into the road projects either completed or under construction by the Abia state government. Of the total number of roads done are 21 in Abia Central, 6 in Abia North and 9 in Abia South senatorial zones.
The health sector of the state has received tremendous boost since the inception of the present administration. Perhaps the greatest achievements of the administration in this all important sector are the establishment of the state of the art Abia specialist and diagnostic center in Umuahia and Aba through a Private-Public Initiative PPI. Today, that center has become a referral center for health professionals beyond the state. Patients and specialists from the entire South East and South South now access the facility. Patients that would otherwise been flown abroad for medical treatment are now handled locally since the center boasts of the state of the art facility comparable to what obtains in advanced countries of the world. There is plan by the government presently to extend the services offered at the center. In that regard, the renal dialysis and ophthalmology center are billed to take off soon. The structures are already awaiting the installation by the technical partner’s. In the same vein, the Amachara General hospital is now an annex of the diagnostic center to provide more services to the people as part of the expansion process. At the moment, a three storey building which is being constructed by the house officers has reached advanced stage of completion. So also is the 2-storey building for resident doctors? Also the theatre is being renovated while work is going on at the accident and emergency center. The government has constructed and equipped more than 210 Community health Centre’s in different parts of the state under its primary healthcare services to the people. The health Centre’s are provided with boreholes and a tricycle each to convey patients. The aim of the government is to ensure that every political ward in the state has a health Centre to attend to patients. The government also plans to employ health professionals to main hospitals. As parts of its effort to provide qualitative healthcare to the people, it has embarked on the construction of an auditorium at the specialist hospital Abayi, Aba for student doctors. The government has continued to meet its counterpart obligation to partner agencies such as WHO, UNICEF and has continued to support the Ministry of Health in its campaigns and other activities aimed at keeping Abia state polio free.
COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY
The Abia State Government being piloted by Chief T.A Orji is bent on providing the enabling environment for business to thrive in the state. That is why many investors are interested in partnering with the state government. The government has signed MOUs with various companies within and outside the country willing to do business with the state. Not long ago, Alkamali Oil of United Arab Emirate entered into partnering with the state towards exploring opportunities in the oil sector. There is a similar plan by private investor to set up a cement manufacturing plant in Arochukwu following the abundance of limestone – a major raw material for cement production. There are many of such partnering between investors and the Abia State Government going on in the state.
The Abia State Government has also taken a giant leap forward in its effort to relocate the Umuahia Main Market from its present location to a more spacious and ideal place. It has therefore vigorously pursued the plan to realize the Ubani Ibeku Ultra-Modern Market project in the shortest possible time after the former contractor handling the project failed to deliver.
At the moment, work is progressing steadily at the site of the new market at Ubani Ibeku where about 3,000 shops have so far been built. All things being equal, by December this year traders will start moving over to the new market while the space where the old market was situated will be converted to another use by the government.
In the same vein, the state government has concluded plans to relocate traders at the old Industrial Market to a more conducive location at Azueke Ibeku in the Umuahia North Local Government Area of the state. Government plans to build more than 5,000 shops in the new market while already, about 2,000 shops have been realized. The rest will soon be completed.
Government’s desire is that by the end of the year, movement of traders to the new market could have commenced.
Apart from constructing new markets, some old markets have been receiving the attention of the state government. Not long ago, the executives of market associations in the state were provided with brand new official buses for their executives. Infrastructural development of the markets is a continuous process. For instance, rehabilitation of internal roads in Ariaria International Market is nearing completion. Transformers have been donated to the markets.
Since the inception of the present administration in Abia State, it has recorded giant strides in the field of sports. The most recent are as follows:
1) The reconstruction and re-grassing of the Umuahia Township Stadium (Upgrading of the stadium).
2) Acquisition of World Class Wrestling Ring.
3) On-going collaboration between the Abia State Government and Vejie Bold Club of Denmark for the establishment of a sports academy in the state.
4) Signing of the Abia State Sports Endowment Fund by the governor.
5) State qualified to play in the 2012 WAFU competition (Continental Football Competition).
6) The state now presents two club sides in the pro-league in the 2012 football season.
It is on record that Abia state has over the years; produced notable and international sports men and women who have excelled in various fields of sports. Names like Kanu Nwankwo, world champion in power lifting, Obioma Aligekwe are Abia sons. Recently also, the Enyimba Football Club’s chairman, Felix Anyansi Agwu was elected into the board of the Nigerian Football Federation. The Director of Sports, Abia State Sports Council was also appointed into the nine-man ministerial committee to reform football in the country.
To ensure quick dispensation of justice, the government has through the ministry of justice prosecuted over 3000 criminal cases, handled over 2000 civil matters in courts, prepared over 1000 contract agreements among others. Monumental structural developments have been witnessed. This includes complete renovation of 12-room office block for lawyers in the ministry of justice, construction of a gigantic office complex at the ministry headquarters, Umuahia. The project is more than 80% completed. Harmonization of the salaries and the condition of service of law officers with those of the magistrates in Abia State is a major milestone recorded by the chief present administration within this period. Many states in the federation and even the federal government are yet to carry out such harmonization. At the judiciary level, renovation of old court halls and construction of new ones are on going at both the Umuahia and Abia judicial divisions of the state. Six new court halls each are springing up simultaneously in Aba and Umuahia High courts.
The housing sector of the state has not been left out in the state’s scheme of things. In the last six months, a lot has been done in this sector. The fencing of the site for the new Abia Government House at Ogurube layout is nearing completion at the cost of N175, 000,000.00. The new civil servants secretariat estimated to cost n1.2b is at roofing stage on (1no) 4 storey building and the other (1no) 4 storey building is at the 2nd slab even as the old one is undergoing renovation, while work at the 3,000 capacity international conference Centre, Umuahia has reached 70% completion. The project is estimated to cost N551.9m. The government has also deemed it necessary to alleviate the accommodation problem facing other government establishment in the state. Hence it has embarked on the construction of a 48 room office complex at the broadcasting corporation of Abia state at the cost of 217,080,900.00; fully remolded and expanded the customary court of appeal building umuahia at the cost of N62.7m and embarked on the construction of two of massive storey building at the ministry of justice. The old structure at the ministry has been given a face lift. The Abia State planning commission office complex has been completed.
Also, the government has embarked on the construction of two additional court halls at the High court Complex in Abia and umuahia. No doubt, when completed, they will impact positively in the quick dispensation of justice. The projects are expected to be completed before the end of the year. The 3(no) new NYSC hostel blocks and 1 (no) staff building project embarked upon by the state government at the permanent orientation camp at umunna at the cost of 201.5m has almost been completed just as construction work at the isieke Housing Estate, Umuahia is progressing steadily and nearing completion An initial 30 units of 3 bedroom bungalow are to be built at the cost of n126m, Renovation, construction and installation work at the Abia house, Abuja at the cost of N150m is in progress. Works on basement, interlocking tiles, drainage and lift have been completed. The high Brow Amokwe housing Estate has been completed while Amuba housing Estate is also ready for occupation. Finishing is ongoing; works on relaying of interlocking stones is also nearing completion. Still on housing, the state government is extending the commissioner’s quarters to accommodation all the commissioners with additional 4 (no) duplex at the cost of 500m. The project will soon be completed as work is in progress.
To give agriculture a boost, the administration through its agencies like the ministries of agriculture and the Agricultural development Programme ADP have been impacting positively on farmers .The government has mapped out programmes to supply fertilizer and other farm inputs to genuine farmers. it has also encouraged mechanized farming through the provision of loan facilities to big farmers. The ministry of agriculture acquired 55 tractors under public /private partnership (PPPS) initiative. Farmers who did not benefit have been advised to approach the ADP for their tractor hiring services .The governments have been providing trainings, workshop and seminars for farmers as well extension services. In the same way, the administration in collaboration with the national root crops research institute NRCRI, Umudike has done a lot in widening the horizon of farmers into the modern farming techniques. Government has also programmed its agricultural agencies into the federal government and the international agricultural development agencies like IFAD and FADAMA III among others for the formulation and execution of agricultural policies.
It has continued to honour it counterpart obligation. Abia has joined the Federal Government cassava and oil transformation initiatives (COTI). The governor recently signed the irrevocable standing payment order (ISPO) to give farmers impetus to access the N1 billion commercial agriculture loan of the federal government.
The Ministry of Agriculture has approved a collaborative programme with the ministry of local government and Chieftaincy Affairs and the Abia state oil producing Areas Development Commission (ASOPADEC) to establish mega farms (liberation farms) across the 17 local government areas of the state. Livestock, fisheries and poultry will be involved, and serve as Centre’s for intensive production of all agricultural products as well as job creation Centre’s. The project is expected to create 4,000 jobs. Soon, a modern abattoir will be established in Aba under a PPP arrangement with an Ottawa based company.
One of the greatest achievements of the Ochendo administration is ensuring steady power supply in Umuahia and its environs. The administration has successfully evacuated power from the 132KV sub-station at Ohiya at the cost of N1.5 billion.
Abia state government since the inception of the 2nd tenure of Chief TA Orji has made tremendous achievement in the area of water and electricity through the ministry of public utilities in the area of water, a comprehensive consultancy service has been carried out on how to rehabilitate the old umuahia regional water scheme and integrate the surrounding schemes. The State through the ministry public utilities and water resources has liaised with the federal ministry of Niger Delta for the regional water scheme in the captured in the federal government subsidy removal Reinvestment programme (SURE). This will involve the reconstruction, rehabilitation and expansion of the water schemes. Also, the rehabilitation of Umuokpara water scheme has been executed. In the area of electricity the timely intervention by the state government facilitated the inspection and pre – commissioning tests of the completed 132kv network from Alaoji – Umuahia and the 2*30MVA, 132/33Kv injection substation equally energized. Consequently, the state government in 2011 awarded contract for the construction of 5no33kv High Tension feeder lines from the Ohiya 2×30 MVA, 132/33kv injection substation. The 5no feeder lines radiate from Ohiya injection sub-station to the following locations –Afara, Ubakala, Nkwoegwu, Ntigha, and Umungwa. Construction work along Afara, Ubakala, Nkwoegwu and Umungwa has been completed while work on the Ntigha axis’s in progress. This has greatly increased the electricity supply situation in umuahia metropolis and its environs. In addition, government initiated and completed the installation of solar energy streetlights in the following areas of umuahia metropolis – house of assembly junction to Bende road, Ndume Otuka road, Road 3 low cost housing estate, Health Centre Road, World Bank, Adelabu Street and Bende road which is about 80% completion.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND CHIEFTAINCY AFFAIRS One of the greatest legacies of the Chief TA Orji administration in the state is the sustenance of peace in the communities. This has impacted positively on development. Through its relevant agencies like the ministry of local government and the chieftaincy affairs, it has resolved Ezeship and inter community disputes in rural grassroots communities through prompt settlement of 76 Ezeship and inter- community disputes. The government has provided safer environment for local government administration by taking proactive decisions and actions on security reports received from the local governments. The Abia state government has continued to pay salaries and allowance of Ndieze regularly in addition to facilitating payment of over N100m old debts as well as arrears of salaries owed by the 17 LGAS and ensured regular prompt payment of salaries owed by the local government in the state. The state government during the period under review completed the construction of the JAAC/ Ndieze secretariat crescent with asphalt by direct labour; procured and distributed 3711kv / 300 KVA transformers to the 17 local governments and institution in the state. Government also procured and distributed 72 vehicles to the 17 transition committee chairmen, there and all revenue unit of the 17LGAs as well as 4 principal officers of Abia state tradition Rulers council. Government also made funds available for the renovation of the headquarters and also produced uniform signposts for them. The ministry in keeping with the governor’s directive empowered 6000 Abia youth across the 17 local government areas.
The Abia State government gives premium to the development of women, children, the indigent, elderly and persons living with disabilities. Over 200 women have been trained in various skills. A total of 1500 women had benefitted from the free pre and post natal treatment for pregnant women for the first six weeks.
The Abia state government through the ministry has continued to take care of destitute and the less privileged by collaborating with the Itumbuzo mentally destitute home in the evacuation of some mentally ill persons in the state. Various sensitization programs and child trafficking and abuse, HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancy, harmful tradition practices, child right law, child immunization, maternal mortality have been carried out by the government.
PETROLEUM AND SOLID MINERALS DEVELOPMENT
Abia state government has been able to achieve 100% maintenance on the vandalized system 2E-porthacourt Refinery osisioma Depot pipeline in collaboration with the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN). The depot is expected to commence operation soon and will boost the social and economic development of the state. The government has been able to clean up and taken remedial actions on the 16 spill incidents that occurred in the state in the last one year due to sabotage. A solid mineral Data Bank has been created and has indicated the locations of solid minerals site in the state. This has helped attract foreign investors to solid minerals sector and invariably will create employment and increases the state government’s revenue.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
It is the desire of Abia state government that her citizens do not lag behind in this technological age. Its relevant ministry, the ministry of science and technology thus initiated the Ochendo free computer training designed to train Abians in all local government area of the state to be computer literate. The training programme has been on for public/civil servants. About 700 candidates have so far been trained. There is also the Computer for All Abian Initiative (CAAI) designed to enable interested public/civil servants in Abia State to have their own computer set at affordable prices, without interest. About 500 public servants have benefitted from the programme. The State government through an MOU recently signed, issued the right of way to a fibre optic technology company to invest in fibre optic technology in Abia State. This is inline with the State strategy on ICT. The State is also planning to partner with a Private firm to build ICT centres for the Youths in the State. Abia State has also keyed into the Federal government ECOWAS/CUBA initiatives of replacing high energy consuming incandescent bulbs with lower energy consuming fluorescent lanterns deploying government buildings and estates across the state. The ministry has completed work on the Abia State science and technology policy.
The state government through the ministry of finance has taken proactive measures that have meaningfully enhanced the revenue base of the state government. The financial management organs of the state government have been overhauled to ensure efficiency and transparency. Consultants on revenue were engaged that have assisted the government identify many revenue windows and potentials hitherto untapped previously. This has resulted to the marginal increase in the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) profile of the state government. Efforts have been intensified to complete the data capture of all state civil servants with a view to actually determine their number in the government payroll to eliminate ghost workers. The state government through the department assisted the former community banks to recapitalize to micro finance banks as part of the state government empowerment programme for the people at the grassroots. The ministry set up and inaugurated a committee on E-payment solution. Payment of salaries and pensions is up to date in the state. All categories of retired civil servants have been paid up to march this year. The finances and General Purpose Committee has been strengthened to entrench due process, transparency and accountability in the award of all government contracts. The reconstruction, evaluation and upgrading of the state government’s debt had been done at the state level, the first in the South East zone. Plans have been conducted to extend some to the LGA’s before the end of the year. The government has fine-tuned appropriate framework and strategy that would compel remittance of collected revenue to Board of Internally Generated Revenue (BIGR). This has become necessary because revenues expected from various internal sources have failed to reach projected levels.
Education remains a key priority of the state government. Accordingly the state government has invested huge resources to that sector. There is a functional free transport services for students in Aba and Umuahia and this has alleviated the financial burden on parents. Scholarships have been instituted by the government for bright indigenes of the state to pursue academic programmes in locally and overseas. Renovation of public primary and secondary schools is a continuous process and many dilapidated schools have benefitted from this gesture.
The Ochendo government seems to have made the greatest achievement in this sector. Till date the state government has given out more than 150 patrol vehicles to security personnel in the state to help fight crime as well as communication equipment. The exercise is still going on. Besides, the state government was instrumental to the rehabilitation of the Army barracks at Ohafia, which has boosted the security of the state. The joint military- police patrol has reduced crime drastically. Today Abia is among the most peaceful in Nigeria