Without sounding immodest Abia State has become reference point for good governance since the advent of the present democratic dispensation in Nigeria. For the people of Abia State there is every reason to feel good for getting the benefits of the government of the people by the people and for the people. It is evidently clear that Democracy is working in Abia under the leadership of the well-focused administration of Governor Theodore Ahamefule Orji. The dictates of the present mood of the nation do not permit us to roll out the drums as in previous years to celebrate Democracy Day but we still have to count our blessings as the Ochendo administration enters its last lap.
During the last edition of Democracy Day, Governor Orji pledged to continue with the implementation of his legacy projects aimed at laying a solid foundation for the economic growth of Abia. He has not deviated from the straight course of development which he has been following. Indeed, he has kept his words. In the last 12 months since he made that solemn promise, the wheel of development has increased in speed leading to the completion of landmark infrastructural projects in the state.
The relocation of Umuahia Main Market is now a reality after 78 years of prevarications by past governments including the colonial administration. In place of the old market, the Umuahia Modern Market at Ubani Ibeku, is now a beehive of business activities. The market with over 7, 000 shops is purpose built with facilities such as motor parks, banks, fire service, adequate water supply, good network of internal roads, among others. Even before the completion of Umuahia Modern Market, the new Industrial Market had taken off at Ahiaeke Ndume in place of the old Timber Market, which was contributing to congest the capital city. These two modern markets have become reference points in expansion of commerce and job creation.
In the last one year Ochendo has added more health facilities to the ones he had already built. Dialysis Centre and Eye centre have been added to the ultra modern Specialist Hospital thereby creating a full medical complex where citizens can receive quality medical service of intentional standard. It has always been the dream of Ochendo to make available in Abia State the same medical facilities that Nigerians seek in foreign lands in what has become a phenomenon of medical tourism. As he built the well equipped tertiary health facilities, Governor Orji is equally focused on transforming both the secondary and primary health care system to make quality health care services available to the people at the grassroots. The primary Health Centres have continued to increase in number as quality health care services is being taken to the doorsteps of Abia residents. At the last count the Primary health Centres have reached over 300 and still counting. Some of the 100-bed hospitals located in the three senatorial districts of the state have been completed and fully equipped while others are nearing completion.
It was this evidential transformation of the health sector that prompted the Nigerian Optometric Association (NOA) to recognize Governor Orji and honour him with the award of Prime Ambassador of Health at the 37thAGM/Scientific Conference of NOA last July. This group of specialized health practitioners was so much impressed with Ochendo’s achievements in the health sector hence they conferred the award on him to fully capture his “contribution in providing phenomenal leadership for the advancement of health care.”
Over the last one year of democracy Day celebration Abians must also count their blessings for what their governor, who presides over a knowledge-driven administration, has done in the education sector. The primary and secondary school system have witnessed massive transformation with the hitherto dilapidated classroom blocks giving way to modern facilities conducive for teaching and learning. The model schools springing up across the state are designed to lay a solid foundation for the education of Abia children. It is the belief of Ochendo that if we get it right at the first two level of education the problem of falling standard of education would be taken care of.
As part of his pace setting accomplishments Governor Orji has given Abia State a befitting secretariat complex. The two blocks of four storey edifices are now standing majestically in their beautiful splendor at Ogurube Layout. It is noteworthy that the secretariat complex is coming 22 years after the creation of Abia as past governors both military and civilian never saw the need to give Abia a much needed secretariat. That was why state ministries were accommodated in makeshift structures at different locations in the state capital. But today most of the ministries have moved into the ultra modern secretariat tastefully furnished to inspire high level productivity. The organized labour profusely commended Ochendo during the 2014 May Day celebration for providing conducive environment for workers. This infrastructural development has also robbed off on the state broadcasting media as a modern 48 office complex is now occupied by the Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State (BCA).
Road infrastructure has continued to receive adequate attention in the development agenda of the Ochendo administration. Hence several road projects have been completed since the last Democracy Day. These roads, both urban and rural, contribute to the growth of commerce and boosting of agricultural activities in the state. The emphasis on rural roads is predicated on the need to boost the ongoing transformation of the agriculture sector as farm produce must be evacuated from the rural areas to markets in urban areas. Abia is now a major producer of cocoa and cassava due to the numerous incentives that Governor Orji has been providing to Abia farmers having keyed into the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) of the federal government.
There is no way one can enumerate the achievements of Governor T.A. Orji without making a reference to the prevailing peace and security in Abia State. Abians now take peace and security for granted after their governor fought very hard to overcome the security challenges that faced the state few years back. Abia was the butt of critics when the state was confronted with huge security challenges of armed robbery and kidnapping that culminated in the abduction of 15 school children on their way to school.
The Abia governor had confronted the challenge headlong and deployed every available resources to checkmate the evil doers. He not only ended the bazaar of the criminals but also took appropriate measures to tackle the root cause of the problem by implementing an unprecedented massive youth empowerment programme for Abia youths. Thousands of youths have been empowered and taken off the streets and crime. The Ochendo formula is now a reference point on how a chief executive of a state can fight crime and provide a peaceful and secure environment for citizens to live and carry out their daily activities without fear. Though he has won the war against insecurity Governor Orji has neither relaxed nor given criminals a breathing space. He has continued to sustain the peace dividends by providing the security agencies with the logistics and other incentives to make Abia residents sleep soundly with their two eyes closed. The youth empowerment programme is equally being sustained. The governor in his magnanimity has just reinstated into the Abia State civil service 2,700 non-indigenes who were among the workers back loaded to their home states in 2011.
The peace dividend in Abia is also reflected in the politics of God’s Own State as acrimonious politics of the past have gone for good. With his humility and good-natured love for peace Governor Orji was able to make peace among the political elites, who had been fighting themselves to the detriment of the state. There is no more dichotomy between the so-called Abuja politicians and home-based politicians as was the case before the present administration came on board. Abia politicians now speak with one voice and see the development of the state a common agenda that must be executed.
What has continued to confound Abians and observers of the development stride of the present administration is the pace Governor Orji has been tackling the infrastructure deficit he inherited. He actually hit the ground running immediately he liberated the state from the vicious grip of a godfather, who had turned Abia into a private property of his political dynasty. Since then things have been turning around for the good of Abia. And by the time the man fondly called Ochendo Global would leave office at the next Democracy Day Abia State would have climbed to the development pedestal the founding fathers and indeed the people of Abia have envisaged when the state was created. After all, the governor who has a mission to leave a legacy has assured that his primary concern now is to complete his legacy projects. That he has said would make him a fulfilled person and Abians would be happier for the Ochendo phenomenon.
*Ajunwa is Chief Press Secretary to Abia State Governor