“Let it Rain” John Okiyi Kalu
“Rain, rain go away, come again another day little children want to play”-Nursery Rhyme
I don’t know how many of us sang that nursery rhyme as kids. I did; but not at nursery school because I didn’t have the privilege of attending nursery school after the brutal Nigerian civil war. I started primary school “under a tree” at my village and still remember the big black slate that my mother made for me with pride in her eyes that her son was going to school. That slate was heavy and my first school uniforms were over sized. Yet when I was handed over to teacher Agwu Okpa in those days at Amaogudu primary school I was elated and felt on top of the world. I still remember how we learned Igbo alphabets in those days: “aka bekee gbuo, dinta bu egba gba, kpo a akwukwo ite igba ji”. Hahahahahahahaha, uwa mgbede self.
Those treasured childhood memories came flooding back to me yesterday at Aba while looking at the construction work being done by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu at Owerri road (off Okigwe road) Aba. In my later primary education years I came to Aba to school at another community primary school and we used to go to Patez to watch “cilema” featuring movies like â€œsnake in the monkey shadowâ€, “Shaolin”, “enter the dragon” etc. Aba boys like me will remember â€œajagharigweâ€ and other â€œmain bossesâ€. One remarkable thing is that even in those days of Chief Sam Mbakweâ€™s reconstruction revolution, Owerri road that led to Patez Cinema was never constructed. Only Okigwe road received attention. We endured muddy Owerri road to go to Patez Cinema and watch films even when there was Rex and Emy cinema halls.
But Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, who may likely have also watched films at Patez Cinema in Aba as a young Aba boy, remembered Owerri road and awarded it for construction alongside other 23 roads in Abia State currently receiving attention. If Owerri road is completed it will provide a natural outlet from Okigwe road that will connect the high population density area to the Osusu, Omuma and Eziukwu area. Something similar to what Ekenna is doing on the other side of Okigwe road. My sources say that Osusu, Eziukwu and Omuma roads are all under Governor Okezieâ€™s reconstruction radar this dry season.
Aba abago na ofe….
Just like Dr Okezie Ikpeazu promised during the campaigns, Aba is now one massive construction site with caterpillars everywhere you go. Arochukwu, Umunneochi, Abiriba, Abam and Umuahia are also being impacted by Okezie caterpillars. One government official described what we are witnessing as only â€the elementary phase of Abia renewal projectâ€. So far it has touched all 3 senatorial zones of Abia state and if what I heard is anything to go by, the actual first phase is even bigger and billed to start this dry season.
I remembered those nursery rhymes after seeing what the rains were doing to the roads under construction at Aba. Beside Owerri road, I also visited the Ariaria area to confirm to myself that God has indeed remembered Aba people but my spirit sank a little afterwards. The speed of the construction works are being slowed down because of persistent heavy rains and the passageways for men and vehicles are messed up.
Human and vehicular traffic snarls provide evidence of the sacrifices our people are making for a better tomorrow . Residents and users of those roads are really suffering to access their homes and businesses. Why can’t the rain just go away and come again another day so that these roads will be reconstructed with minimal discomfort to our people? Is there no science that can stop rain from falling at Aba while the renewal work continues?
The answer came to me when I retired home: the rain is doing its job as ordained by God and should not stop the Governor from doing his duty to Abians as enshrined in our constitution. What must be done must be done and not postponed because nature is at work.
All I can think of is to plead with our people living in those areas that are currently impacted by ongoing road construction and drainage desilting works to please exercise some patience and persevere for “nwa mgbe nta”. Your current discomfort will soon give way to joy as each of those roads are billed to last more than 20 years after construction. For instance, the ongoing Owerri road should have a post-excarvation concrete and chemical mix base that will come before asphalting, as explained by the contractor and the road should last more than 30 years.
All the roads being constructed at Aba currently are also coming with gutters, culverts and street lights that will enable Aba residents trade at night and possibly recover some of the current lost businesses quickly. There will also be security surveillance cameras for the first time in the history of Aba. More importantly, many of the roads are expected to be delivered in September 2015 as part of Governor Okezieâ€™s first 100 days fruits. That means we have a short time to endure.
Like English people say and our people agree, you cannot make an omelet without breaking an egg. It is by far better to endure this temporary discomfort and then in the dry season have good roads that people can use to the market. As mostly traders we know that our best seasons are around the dry seasons (September-March” and we need good roads to maximize transactions then. Since there is no way we can hold the rain from May to September maybe we should only pray for extended “august break” this year to enable the contractors deliver on schedule.
Even if we call out all our native rain makers to come and hold the rain at Aba it will have a cost: there will be massive crop failures in Ngwaland that will lead to food shortage later in the year. That will be penny wise pound foolish.
Let nature work while Governor Okezie also work for us. Please don’t sing “rain rain go away come again another day Dr Okezie want to work”. Endure these pains for a while and later we will all smile like mothers do when the baby is finally out of the womb.
Ya gaziere nde Abia Alaigbo chukwu goziri agozi