THE SUN HAS RISEN IN UMUAHIA
Being an extract of the speech by the Chief Press Secretary to the Abia Governor,
Mr. Godwin Adindu, to a cross section of the Abia Press today in his office in
Government House, Umuahia.
1. Issues of Aba Demolition Exercise
APGA has accused us of selective destruction of illegal structures in Aba, saying it
was vindictive and targeted at members. APGA said it is the way the Govt was
paying back Aba people and APGA people who did not vote for the PDP.
But, I am here to tell you that this allegation by APGA is a misguided and ill-
conceived aggression against a government that is genuinely seeking to
ameliorate the bad situation of infrastructural decay of Aba which has been a
major sentiment for a long time now. There is no selective pattern in the
demolition exercise. There is no target. What is being destroyed is any illegal
structure that contravenes town planning regulations.
If the government should think or behave in relation to who voted or did not
vote for PDP, it will not start its developmental work in Aba at all in view of the
voting pattern in the elections. The two local councils in Aba metropolis gave us
12,450 votes or 5.01 percent of our 248,459 votes. They gave APGA 56,216 votes
or 33.99 percent of its 165,406 votes. Thus, if Governor Ikpeazu is driving his
developmental agenda as a reward for electoral victory, he would not have
started in Aba. But, to us, Aba is beyond the voting trend of one election. Aba is
beyond the election.
Aba belongs to everybody; it belongs to all Igbos and all Nigerians. By developing
Aba, the Governor is developing a place that is home to all Nigerians and not a
place that is home only to APGA people.
The spirit of the Aba Urban Renewal Drive is to change the narrative of Aba from
a city of a lamentable meltdown to a modern city of order and decency. The
Governor is driving the agenda to reclaim the reputation of the city as the
commercial hub of Nigeria, an epicentre of commerce and industry.
And, he made it clear that in the process of the rebuilding effort, he will certainly
step on toes. Nobody is being spared and nobody is being victimized but the
contractors on site might exercise their discretion to delay demolition for
technical purposes or to allow time for people to evacuate their properties. But,
at the end, the structures will still be demolished. What the government is
seeking is the greatest good for the greatest number.
As far back as the time of Governor Orji Uzor Kalu, consultants engaged to
understudy the problem of Aba recommended that not less than 2500 illegal
houses built against flood flow must be pulled down to sanitize the city so that
there will be free flow of flood and storm water. But, this was not implemented.
You will recall that during the old Imo State when the then Col. Abdulkarim Adisa
was the Military administrator, he pulled down a multi-storey building located off
Faulks Road, Aba and forced the owner to pay cost of clearing the debris. So this
is not the first time somebody has taught of sanitizing Aba. The only difference
now is that somebody has the will based on the imperativeÂ Â need to do the right
thing and administer an existing town and country act as regards town planning.
The demolition of illegal shops, kiosk, fences and buildings that encroach into the
service lane and on the roads is being carried out only on the roads where the
construction work is going on. The notice to this effect was dully served to the
public. As far as the government of Abia State is concerned, any structure that
contravenes the town planning regulation as regards the appropriate location of
buildings and structures is an illegal structure and such buildings must be pulled
down by the time the caterpillar gets to the point. It does not matter who owns
the structures, whether they are 100 APGA members or 200 PDP loyalists.
The Governor of Abia State, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, does not see any illegal structure
built on top of a drainage line or on the service lane as a property. He sees it, and
treats it, in the same manner that a farmer sees and treats weeds that grow in
the garden. So far, the effort of the Governor in rebuilding Aba has received
widespread endorsement and commendation from residents and visitors alike.
People come out to cheer and rejoice as the illegal structures fall to the
There is a parallel to this. You remember that when El Rufai was demolishing
illegal structures in Abuja, the Igbos in Abuja happened to be more affected and
they cried out that they were being victimized. El Rufai came out and gave details
of the exercise. He accepted that, yes, Igbos were mostly affected but also
convinced the world that they were the greatest offenders; they were the
greatest law breakers. He showed their buildings and the map and everybody
kept quiet. It is the same thing in Aba today. If the illegal shops and structures
belong mostly to APGA members (which, of course, is not true), it means that
they are the greatest offenders.
During the election, most of the residents in Aba were card carrying members of
APGA but this has changed now. If you conduct a census now in Aba, you will
discover that the people have realized they were being deceived. They have seen
the moral light and they have made the necessary realignment. On his part,
Governor Ikpeazu has long moved away from politics to governance.
His intentions for the masses of Abia are very clear and these have been very
well discerned and appreciated by the public. This is evident in the sacrifice
being made by the Governor to embark on the massive construction work on
31 roads. His scorecard of achievements in his 100 days is a clear testimony of
where he is headed. I think somebody somewhere is intimidated. But, you cannot
rewind the hand of the clock. The SUN has risen in Umuahia and we can almost
say how the day will be. His sincerity of purpose is being applauded by all and
sundry except the few infinitesimal group that call themselves APGA.
2. Appeal to Aba Residents
We could only appeal to the Aba residents to continue to show understanding
and cooperation with government by putting up with the temporary
inconveniences of traffic arising from the roads under construction. The magic
that we all need now is patient. The Governor is working round the clock to
ensure that he fulfils his promise of delivery quality roads to Aba people. He is
walking a tight rope with our lean finances to achieve his giant dream.
3. Rural Urban Renewal Policy
Rural/Urban Renewal is one of the five cardinal policy thrust of the Abia
State Government under the watch of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu. The
Governorâ€™s vision in propagating this policy is to revive the mini cities like
Omoba, Mbawsi, Ovim, Ohafia, Obehie, Akwete and Azumini that were
beehive of commercial activities during the colonial and post colonial era.
The Governor has set up a committee to direct this developmental effort.
By this thinking, Rural/Urban migration especially among the youths will be
reduced and the state government intends to achieve this through public
private partnership. The basic social amenities such as good roads,
electricity, pipe borne water, Health facilities, etc
4. Restoring Security
The first mandate and obligation of government is the maintenance of law
and order and protection of lives and property of the citizenry:
How has Governor Okezie Ikpeazu fared in achieving these goals?
Bringing the soldiers back and re-engineering the Police
Establishment of the office of Homeland Security with a Special Adviser
Establishment of a community watch organizations involving
Traditional rulers, youths and political influencers in the community.
A DANIEL has come to Judgement!
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor