On the 16th of January 2013, quite early in the year, a high powered delegation, the committee on good governance led by the Hon Minister of Information, Mr Labaran Maku, accompanied by media gurus from other states and a host of journalists cutting across the saturated media aggregation in Nigeria will descend on Abia State like locusts, in a fact finding mission on Good Governance.
Good Governance according to concepts enunciated by United Nations and other highly place authorities have been said at various times to encompass: full respect of human rights, the rule of law, effective participation, multi-actor partnerships, political pluralism, transparent and accountable processes and institutions, an efficient and effective public sector, legitimacy, access to knowledge, information and education, political empowerment of people, equity, sustainability, and attitudes and values that foster responsibility, solidarity and tolerance.
Going by the above definition, our visitors will focus their attention on transparency, responsibility, accountability, participation and responsiveness to the needs of the people which are the United Nation’s parameters.
As hinted above, what should have been a Herculean task to others, has been made simple by his Excellency’s administration of Abia State.
The governance style of his Excellency Chief T.A. Orji has been people oriented. From inception knowing where the shoe pinches his people, he started with soothing public aggravations, especially on issues that bother on welfare and morale of the workers who oil the wheel of governance.
An unprecedented promotion of Abia civil Servants was made to the next level, arrears of salaries, pensions were placed on the priority list, education was declared free in primary and secondary schools and at the same time reinstating bursary and scholarship long stopped by previous administrations, thereafter he unleashed ground breaking reforms, policy frameworks, focusing on the update of the state long neglected in developmental configuration. Many contracts were awarded and completed. Aware that security is of paramount importance, he gave out the initial 119 patrol vehicles to security agencies aware that serious danger was looming ahead. As these were going on, he knew that the state was on a precipice due to opposition party activities where brothers could neither agree nor speak with one voice. Today those things are things of the past.
Towards the last days of his first tenure, crime, mostly, daredevil armed robberies and scintillating kidnappings made governance difficult. Aba the commercial hob and environs were badly terrorized to the extent that traditional marriages were held in Lagos, Abuja and Kaduna, a taboo in Igbo culture. Burials were hosted with only family members present amid tight security as if in a war zone.
So many efforts were made like banning commercial motor cycles and legislation which made kidnapping a capital offence. As these got to no avail, His Excellency Sir T A Orji wielded the big stick militarizing the affected areas.
It is said that everything that has a beginning has an ending. Kidnapping and armed robbery came to an end. With peace and tranquility reigning, the governor concentrated on issues of the state.
His party the PPA then were thorns in his flesh as they interfered greatly with transparency of carrying out government business. He took a decision that was to break the shackles that inhabited freedom of association and united with his brothers in PDP, most of whom are oracular fellows like Gen. Ike Nwachukwu, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, Nkechi Nwogu, Uzo Azubuike, sage Emma Adaelu, Tony Ukasanya, Ojo Maduekwe, Nkechi Nwaogu, Onyema Ugochukwu to mention a few.
This consolidated the peace and tranquility as a board was empanelled to reconcile warring parties after the PDP primaries. The relative peace that ensued gave a push to governance leading to transparency, responsibility, accountability, participatory democracy and responsiveness to the need of the people.
Today, there are legacy projects for which the Theodore Orji’s era will be remembered. In the same vein, it lends credence as big components of the concept of Good Governance. A few of them are: the Ultra-modern high court in Umuahia and Aba, the Ministry of Justice office complex, the renovation of the Magistrate Courts in Umuahia and Aba, which hitherto have been at the state the colonial masters left them. With a state having more than 20 ministries, over ten are housed in private buildings. Abia State could not host high caliber conferences, and the Government House is still in colonial building made for inferior officers.
These have changed as there is a definitive and commodious new secretariat linked to the old via a wide expanse of driveway. A looming and imposing International Conference Centre with 5000 seating capacity is 80% completed and the foundation has been laid for a new and befitting Government House, all located at Ogurube Layout, the new Umuahia.
The health sector has not had it so good with over 250 Primary Health Centres in all the senatorial zones; diagnostic centres equipped with dialysis machines aimed at alleviating old age diseases, are available. Another specialist centre is situated at Amachara Gen Hospital presently updated with massive buildings for accommodation of medics, modern laboratory and electronically equipped theatres and pediatric section. Others are additional commissioners’ quarters, a 24 office block to serve as constituency offices for the legislators. The newly completed Azikiwe, Milverton, Aba-oweri Roads, the beautified Osioma Roundabout, the theatre and updated School of Medicine Absu Aba, are show cases for our visitors and will definitely attract more laurels for our Governor and Abia State. Efforts have equally been made in housing with the Amokwe, Isieke and Amuba Housing Estates.
Much efforts have been made in improving the aesthetics of the capital city by moving the over populated industrial market and obtrusive Umuahia main market to new sites.
These reforms are true of Ministries of Agriculture, Education, Commerce, Environment, Petroleum to make a long story short. The Abia sponsored evacuation of electricity from the 133KVA Ohiya power station has unarguably boosted commerce and construction within the industrial and artisanry. I could go on but for space
As exemplified above, the Governor has met almost all the indices of Good Governance as enunciated above. Welcome Dr Labaran Maku and the committee on Good Governance.
Eddie Onuzuruike e writes