By James Ibechi
The latest news about the Oju-Awajir Road should at least be cheering!
Whatever the case, we are at least reassured, once again, that the re-construction of the road that traverses Konshisha, Gwer and Oju LGAs, going by the words of Hon. Ode Enyi, Governor Samuel Ortom’s Special Adviser on Gender Issues, Labour Matters and Employment, is irreversibly on course beyond the lure of another campaign promises ahead of 2019 elections.
Hopefully, the rework of the road would be completed someday in the not too distant future!
Going by Hon. Enyi’s word, with the release of a huge sum of money by the governor and the provision of camp ground for the contractors handling the projects and their workers by COE Oju provost, Dr. Sunday Edo, perhaps Igede people of Oju LGA should be praying and earnestly too that works on the road would resume today Monday as expected; and more importantly without any further political exhibition or inhibition; to be more exact.
What stopped the work in the first place, if the Enyi’s words were true, was not lack of fund as held in some circles.
Rather, Enyi attributed the challenge to lack of hospitality and provision for the contractors to accommodate their equipment and workers.
According to the governor’s aide, the owner of the temporary ground on which the contractors laid their equipment sacked them via a notice to quit, culminating in the stoppage of the work on the road, a situation Enyi further superstitiously blamed on witches and wizards in Igede.
However, at a function where jamesibechi.com and the Ukpa-born Governor’s SA met at the weekend, he said that all the challenges had been overcome and work would resume Monday (today).
That notwithstanding, the politics of the Oju-Awajir road has, so far, been an intriguing one to say the least!
The road has been the major 2015 campaign promise of Governor Ortom, to fix it, but a few months to another general elections it still constitutes an issue to the extent that the 2019 election is now tied to the road repair.
The card now perhaps is, if Ortom is able to fix the road he can be sure of Oju bloc votes. This is one political aspect of it.
The politics ought not to have been so deafening, after all the road is evidently not the only project of such magnitude that would be delivered in Governor Ortom’s Benue without such fuss.
And come to think of it, the fact that the sexed-up road ought to have been attended to long before now makes the political haze even more disappointing.
That such a Trunk B road could become such an intense subject of politics at a time states in the East particularly Ebonyi with much less resources are delivering state of the earth infrastructure without much hoopla should explain the pitiable depth of the rot in Governor Ortom polity.
We live at a time when politicians are encouraged, by a supposedly enlightened crop of elite; now more vociferous in the social media, to take undue advantage of anything; regardless of how undeserving.
One wonders whose business is it to ensure the fixing of strategic infrastructure like the Oju-Awajir Road devoid of politics!
Ordinarily, one would expect such social contract should be delivered without political consideration or colouration. And should there really have been a big deal about any administration maintaining a project done by its predecessors and possibly to ensure its completion when it falls within timeline of implementation?
Alas, we are in an era in Nigeria where essential responsibility of government that ought to be taken for granted should be seen as a gesture from a benevolent governor!
But not only Ortom should share the blame, for after decades of neglect and prevarication, contract for the construction of the only Road that links Oju LGA created since 1976 was only eventually awarded in Akume administration in the 90s. But even before construction works could commence as anticipated, the contract became a subject of intense political jaw jaw. The then opposition dismissed the contract as mere political propaganda; insisting the project was designed to covet the votes of Igede people of Oju in Akume reelection bid.
With his reelection done, debate however continued with sympathizers of the new administration insisting no valid contract was awarded for the construction of the road and that the project was mere political smokescreen by the Akume administration. Contract or no contract, the debate shifted to whether there was payment of any sort in respect of the project until Tilley Gyado surfaced on the road with obsolete road construction equipment to deliver very shoddy job years after the contract was given him.
It was seen that just as he was finishing the road at the one end, the other part started peeling off and no sooner did he completely the work on papers than gully pot holes and erosion started washing off the road.
Well, Hon. Enyi and the newly appointed Health commissioner, Emmanuel Eru who are the main enthusiasts of the current administration have become vociferous about the reconstruction works to resume and that the road would sooner than later be completed in demonstration of the love of Governor Ortom for the people of Igede.
So much was the politics that when it was said in the course of the year that the road contract was awarded and would be delivered now-now, no one could have imagined it would be delayed up till this time only for it to become a 2019 card.
The latest information regarding the probable resumption of work therefore speaks volume of the politics of the road. All along, the public has been misinformed about the realities with regards to the reconstruction of the road. But with the latest report, we can now see beyond the politics of the Oju-Awajir Road.
It is evident the current administration has no magic wand about fixing the road as hitherto imagined after all.
If in four years the current administration couldn’t deliver on a single campaign promise, the new probable promise of resumption of work and completion of the project has only made the chicken come home to roost as it is. It only shows the extent to which needless politics may have contributed to a halt in the progress of works on the road.
The Awajir-Oju Road has had enough of needless politics. It is about time exigency of governance rather than self-serving politics is allowed to deliver on popular expectation on this lingering project and regardless of the outcome of 2019 general elections.