I have read with shock and disappointment several social media criticisms and attacks against Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi on the deteriorating and impassable state of the the new and old Ninth Mile- Opi- Makurdi Federal Highways.
The attacks had increased astronomically since the conclusion of the PDP governorship primaries, which Mr. Peter Ndubuisi Mbah won landslide.
These two major Federal roads had deteriorated badly before Governor Ugwuanyi assumed office in 2015. This was even at the time the Federal government claimed and announced that the contract to reconstruct the roads were awarded to Arab Contractors and RCC.
While there has been slow pace of work on the old road axis by Arab Contractors, the construction of the new road was stopped near Eke town in Udi LGA by the contractor for over four years now.
Since then, niether the Federal government nor the contractors had told Nigerians and the affected people mainly Nsukka people why the roads have not been reconstructed speedily or why they have been abandoned completely while reconstruction has been completed on Udi- Oji- Awka section of the same old road.
Intermittently, the contractors appear at the sites and do minor works and disappear without explanations.
The slow pace of work and total abandonment of these roads led to their total collapse, which made them inaccessible, thereby leaving the residents, commuters and motorists using the roads stranded, dejected and melancholic.
It would be recalled that in 2016, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi while reconstructing the dilapidated Opi-Nsukka road, reconstructed the section of the bad federal road from Opi junction to Obollo Afor.
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It was hoped and expected that the Federal government would leverage on this to complete the roads and refund Enugu state government for the section it reconstructed.
It has been revealed that till date the Federal government is yet to refund Enugu State government for the reconstructed section of the federal road.
Even at that, the same Federal government through Federal Executive Council gazzetted memo two years ago banned state government from reconstructing or constructing federal roads or highways.
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The Federal government made it clear that henceforth, they will not refund any state government that reconstructed federal roads or highways in their states.
It would be recalled that before the burial of late Chief Dr. Joe Nwodo, some prominent politicians and leaders of the affected communities approached the Federal government to intervene on the road to enable people attend the burial of late Nwodo in Ukehe, Igbo-Etiti LGA.
The Federal government through Ministry of Works did a palliative works on the old road section of the federal road. That was how the road became accessible during the burial.
After the burial, nobody followed up on the call or pressure on the Federal government to speed up work on the roads having been awarded for reconstruction over the years.
Prominent political leaders from the affected communities which include Igbo-Etiti and Udi local government areas kept mute and pretended as if all is well.
Immediately after the PDP governorship primaries, which Bar. Chijioke Edeoga lost, there arose sudden calls for the reconstruction of the two roads, which had collapsed completely.
But instead of the political leaders and stakeholders of Nsukka including the leaders and members of Nsukka General Assembly to intensify calls and pressures on the Federal government to reconstruct and rehabilitate the two ever busy and very important highways that lead to Nsukka, they decided to play the ostrich and unleashed their recruited social media e-rats on Governor Ugwuanyi, blaming him for the state of the roads.
They went underground and started organising conspiratory and nocturnal political meetings against Governor Ugwuanyi for not supporting their preferred governorship aspirant, Chijioke Edeoga to emerge PDP governorship candidate.
To make their ulterior motive look altruistic, they were prodding their social media hirelings to attack Governor Ugwuanyi consistently because of the poor state of the roads.
Since Ugwuanyi’s government announced plans recently to commence palliative measures on the roads and called on the Federal government and the contractors handling them- Arab Contractors and RCC to expedite action on them, none of the Nsukka political leaders or groups have joined forces with the Governor in sustaining and reteriating the call and agitation.
What is being seen and read on social media platforms is the social media e-rats recruited by these few political leaders from the affected communities busy doubting and questioning Governor Ugwuanyi’s sincerity and committment to making the roads passable during the Christmas season. What a hypocrisy and playing to the gallery.
Until the political leaders and groups from the affected communities close ranks with Governor Ugwuanyi’s government to push or agitate for the completion of the roads, the Federal government and their contractors may not show seriousness or total committment in completing the reconstruction of the two major roads that are gateways to Nsukka town.
Politics apart, it is time for the Nsukka political leaders and leaders of the other affected communities to rise above personal interest and self aggrandizement and make a bold statement and move to compel the Federal government to hasten the reconstruction of these two roads.
The push or call for their completion should not be left for Enugu state government or Governor Ugwuanyi alone. The social media e-rats being prodded and sponsored to attack Governor Ugwuanyi on the state of the two Federal roads should channel their energies at attacking and calling on the APC led Federal government to quickly reconstruct those roads.If not, the roads may remain in deplorable condition for years to come.
Charly Onah, writes from Opi, Nsukka, Enugu State.