Immediately on assumption of duty, Governor Chukwuma Soludo declared emergency on Anambra roads. Already, over 2006 roads have been awarded within barely eight months in office. In this discourse, Ide Achina and Chairman/Chief Executive Officer Lake Petroleum Ltd, Chief C. U. Ezembaji described the feat as unprecedented. He spoke to RAY UDEAGBARA. Excerpts:
ON THE importance of roads in socio-economic development of nations
All over the world, roads, in fact, quality roads play significant role in nation building. Their role is crucial to the movement of goods and services and this plays a key role in development. Round the clock, we see people move from one place to the other to transport their goods, sell their services, visit parents, relatives, even friends. One can currently infer that over 100 tons of goods are transported daily from one destination to another in Nigeria and more than a million people also move from one place to the other also on daily bases. Here, the economic importance of good road network cannot be overemphasised.
It reduces time, cost of transportation wear and tear of means of transportation like vehicles, tricycles, even rail lines which have become another important means of transportation, and enriches the economy of the country in question. Good road network minimises accidents and adds to the lives of transporters. In fact, goods, quality road network is another indicator of the level of development of any country. This is why in advanced economies like United States of America, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, Canada, Sweden, Spain, etc we see beautiful, quality roads. One can time his movement and get to his destination precisely when he plans to be there.
Governments of these countries pay great attention to their roads which gulp enormous amounts in their budgets. We rarely experience accidents as we do in under developed countries like ours in Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Gabon, Burundi, Mali, etc. And once accident occurs at all in these advanced countries, traffic agents, security operatives could get to the scene promptly to offer assistance because of easy flow of traffic. In Anambra State, we have food baskets of the state, even food baskets of the nation like Ogbaru, Anambra East, Anambra West, Orumba North and South areas of the state naturally endowed with fertile land for agriculture. Farm products produced in these places are transported to selling points after harvest like Onitsha, Nnewi, Awka, Ekwulobia etc and here, goods and quality roads become vital for easy evacuation of these farm products like yams, cassava, garri, vegetables, fruits, fish. When Governor Soludo assumed on duty March 17, this year, his administration met poor road network in almost all the nooks and crannies of the state. Most of the roads were filled with potholes. Some bridges linking one remote town to the other are in a State of disrepair. Sanitation was poor coupled with the problem of environmental degradation. Hence his administration immediately declared this emergency on roads and also on poor environment. You remember after taking oath of office, the next day, he and his team moved straight to Okboko, a slump filthy area that have craved for government attention for years, to the notorious Sakamori, a major obstacle to development in that area which has also defied government efforts for years, and embarked on major work of desilting and clearing them of debris, even evacuating filth from gutters and drainages. Of course, his administration recognises that clearing of this filthy debris and freeing all drainages from filth will make for free flow of water and other debris which would hitherto block roads, pathways and render them impassable. This exercise cleared the way for road construction and rehabilitation/ maintenance. To achieve the objective of having good quality roads, the governor better equipped Ministry of Works, reorganised the state’s road maintenance agency this time with an engineer at the head, took appropriate survey of the state roads and sought for the services of good and experienced contractors. He strongly believes it’s no more business as usual this time – and went personally from town to town examine the conditions of the roads, taking note of those that need rehabilitation and areas new contracts will be awarded. With 206 roads already awarded to date, he has shown his leadership values the importance of good roads and is determined, quite committed to fixing all of them. Remember his administration’s vision – to transform Anambra to a livable smart megacity and this is unrealisable without quality good road networks. I repeat, business as usual has no more place in Anambra.
Let’s digress a bit; see the issue of teachers recruitment. The exercise has been cancelled the second time because this administration abhors palm greasing. It has zero tolerance for corruption. It believes in merit, in equity, justice and fairness. It wants the best and shall not compromise whatsoever. I advise all appointees in this government to do everything in accordance with the rule.
Believe it or not, the era of magomago, hankipanki is gone. Look at the political appointees, people of integrity and strong character. We’ll come to this later but believe it; people have confidence in Soludo administration.
Now a cursory look at the roads already awarded including a flyover at Ekwulobia roundabout shows a serious administration that has taken pains to weigh all options and concluded to build all these roads to make life meaningful to the people. I don’t think there’s any community that has not benefitted from this road project..
Of course, poor roads shut the towns where they exist out of civilisation. These roads are so enumerable that putting all of them down, 206 of them, in this discourse will waste much time and bore the reader. Remember this time around, the roads are awarded with clear specifications. As stated in the contract, most of them will be completed in 10 months time and they’ll last a period of 20 years. Of course, what this implies is that if their life span is bellow 20 years, the contractors and the companies handling the construction have defaulted. In the same vein, if they’re not completed in 10 months, this tantamount to a default. You see those handling the job will be alive to their responsibilities and to get these specifications correct, the job must be performed well. I can say right away that this is the first time contracts are awarded with these conditions, the durability of the roads and the time of their completion. I’ve said it time without number that the Soludo administration came on board with all amount of seriousness and uncommon commitment, unshakeable determination to perform. In this very circumstance, we must do our duty, watch what’s happening, ensure no one-vandaliSes the equipment, say something when we see something. Every onyeAnambra must be vigilant always to ensure that government property which is also his property Is not tampered with.
On the vision of the Soludo administration and what the masses envisage
This administration is on course. A cursory look at the workings of this government shows a leadership with holistic approach to all aspects of governance and with the interest of all strata of the society at heart, including the locals at the grassroots. The state chief executive is a man with clear and resolute ambition to move Anambra State forward. Here in the state, peace is gradually returning. Peace you know is crucial as it’s a major guarantee of development on any society. The administration remains focused on its objective of restructuring the state revenue generation process. The governor’s plans to develop the state are genuine and passionate. Anambra is becoming the education hub of our country with many laurels/honours received from the education sector.
We’re witnessing solid groundwork laid, ground on which to execute the governor’s robust programmes and policies. The government is working assiduously to set up skill acquisition centres, boost entrepreneurship studies to enable youths achieve their life aspirations by acquiring necessary skills to to set up their own businesses, even employ others and contribute their quota to nation building. This government is leaving no stone unturned. Recently, it launched human capital development committees, another effort to boost youth employment. I think he’s leading with integrity and accountability. This administration has blazed the trail on women inclusiveness in government. Here we see women appointed to various positions of leadership. Many bodies have been set up – State Urban Regeneration Council, State Education Advisory Council, Human Capital Development Committee and many more, all aimed at enthroning good governance for the people. Engagement, constant debate, interactions are the hallmark of true democracy. We see this in many aspects of this government. On many occasions, stakeholders are called upon to discuss issues of vital importance like in the concession of parks, markets, even some aspects of IGR processes. Soludo’s leadership is working to address the five pillars of its agenda- security, law and order, economic transformation, social agenda and environment. In all sectors, the state has recorded lofty standard. We see unprecedented development in roads, in education, in agriculture, even in environment and transport sectors. The government has faced the task of raising all dilapidated schools to “smart-schools. Today, assassins are grossly degraded. In fact, those who thrive in all kinds of impunity and brigandage are on the run. Our governor is passionate about peace, harmony, and mutual co-existence. His concrete and strategic fight against criminals is one case in point. The earlier passed anti open grazing bill has come into effect under this administration. In this bill, the administration made it clear to the herders that they’re not chased out from the state but that they should rear their cattle in a manner they’ll not turn to nuisance, roam about to destroy peoples farms and properties. It recognises peace as a critical factor for sustainable growth. In fact, we have seen a purposeful eight months in office where the government has embarked on meaningful policies that impact all strata of the society including the rural dwellers.
On people’s contribution towards good governance in the state
NdiAnambra have a lot to contribution to make this administration succeed. One aspect of their contribution is maintenance of peace and order. There can be no meaningful development in an atmosphere devoid of peace. Another is discharge of their responsibilities, payment of their taxes and levies. Every administration needs adequate fund to perform. Then our youths should stand up, be prepared to work; to queue into government’s skill acquisition, entrepreneurship programmes to a acquire basic skills to be gainfully employed. They should shun violence, youth restiveness and apply this government’s vital slogan of “if you see something, say something” in their daily lives. As I earlier said in the last discourse, this slogan though it look simple, can save government from major catastrophic circumstance. A simple report to authorities of what you see going bad can save this administration millions and millions of naira. Of course, prayer is the master key. NdiAnambra must pray fervently for the success of the administration.