By Rev. Fr. Evaristus Offor
True democracy is the provision of social amenities by a ruling Government to the deserving Electorate, especially food, security, pipe borne water, good networks of road, employment and so on. Recently, South east political leaders and elite were agog with pleadings to the federal government for urgent repair of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport. They rejoiced when the repairs were done and the airport re-opened. No sooner it was reopened, the voices crying out for repairs died with the euphoria of reopening, yet, the federal roads in the same South east region are gibberish, have all collapsed without those politicians crying wolf. No South east politician or elite is demanding for the repair of all South east federal roads because they don’t ply them. For them, such roads are meant for the poor and unimportant of the society. Those responsible for federal roads in the region have failed to realize the importance of good networks of roads in economic and human communication. To condense the aloofness between citizens, marketplaces, and services is simply to set people attached a massive fraction of what economic, social, pious and civilizing augmentation is all about. The continued neglect of the roads especially the Ugwu-Onyeama of the Enugu-Abakaliki end is only an index of wickedness and insensitivity of the central government, as well as ethical irresponsibility of South east political elite, whose only interest is the repair of the airport. The unethical attitude by politicians shows the creepy and craggy minds and hearts of our politicians bedecked with garbs of greed and selfishness. Now that the road has become impassable and dreadful, people are denied the enjoyment of the manifestation of inventive communication thoroughfare, from the north to the South. The people have been denied of their right to a premium and unshakable transport network which is essential to human dignity. The dignity of South easterners has been diminished by the intentional devaluation of their road networks and lack of concern for their reconstruction or maintenance either by the governments in the region or the federal government.
These citizens are equally denied their socio-economic expansion in this 20th century, as they lack good road network with which they are to transport their goods and services to municipal centers. It’s controvertible to see a federal government that encourages farming in the media, but can’t rebuild feeder roads for farmers to convey their products to the city. Without the maintenance or reconstruction of that important connecting road, is only well designed wickedness upon the masses of the region. The purgatorial nature of the road can only succeed in retrogressing and compounding the course of fiscal progress of our public array aiming at sober and enthusiastic goals to complete any far-reaching extension. Where are the huge budgetary allocations to repair this road? What has happened when two Igbo national legislators were chairmen on works? What are the roles of our representatives, who sit at the national chambers, working only for themselves?
South eastern State governments are supposed to have something about that, but since they fly in the air they have nothing at state. Though its federal road, but they ought to have repaired it and later ask for federal repayment. To have left such vital road and others in the region in utter scruffy is only an index of awful malfunction both our governments.
What then is the ethical value of repairing the Akanu Ibiam International Airport only for the wealthy and their cronies, without fixing the only federal road that links the North and Southern Nigeria? Will our South East elite that have lots of opportunities to fly through the international airport, go to sleep that the South east has been favored by the federal government, transportation wise? What about the UgwuOnyeama and poor South easterners who ply such grotesque and purgatorial express way. Where is the Enugu State that has been acclaimed to have written its name in gold? How can Enugu State be in the hand of God, when her citizens groan heavily under the mallet of malevolence road?
For the masses to go into farming on a cosmic and cost-effective assortment, then the only way to go is to mug the rural areas where there is outsized enormity of land to farm in large quantities. For a nation or state to be engrossed in farming in huge ratio, rural farmers need to be buoyed especially by making their roads first-class and handy.
Such roads include St Mary Okwojo Ngwo through Uboji Ngwo to Abor, which joins the old road through Ukehe to Nsukka, Umuoka-Ogbede road to Akpakwume/Nze, Ogbede to Opi junction, etc.
To urgently actualize this burning dream, the Enugu State government should borrow a leaf from its Osun counterpart by prompting the Rural, Access and Mobility Project, RAMP as a strategy to upgrade human rights and dignity, as well as the socio-economic wellness of rural districts through the building and rehabilitation of roads. The Rural Access and Mobility Project is a World Bank and French Development Agency credit financed project in support of the implementation of the Federal Government of Nigeria’s rural travel and transport guiding principle.
The State of Enugu being an agrarian city is made up of lots of bucolic spots with enormous agricultural pavilions which need reachable roads to permit the farmers in such communities to convey their arable farm generations to nearby markets for rummage sale. The state should apply the above agency for such project implementation or can look elsewhere for funds.
This is why rural roads such as the ones from St Mary Catholic Church Okwojo through Uboji Ngwo Uno to Abor and again from Abor through Uwani Uboji Ngwo to bypass the 9th Mile Enugu express through Iva valley to Enugu municipal should be given immediate attention.
For example, the Okwojo and Uboji road that links to Abor has been included timelessly in the yearly local, state and federal governments’ budgets, but at the end of the day nothing happens. These roads will not help for the transportation of goods, but will help those traveling to Nsukka to boycott the 9th mile narrow road. Since the road has appeared many times in those budgets, what is really holding it? The people of Uboji are teeming supportive of the people’s Democratic Party, and after each election, they would always go on air to congratulate governors.
Sadly, the closure of the 9th mile Nsukka expressway has caused communities living from Abor to Ukehe a nightmare that cannot be forgotten in a jiffy. The colonial road is now overstretched by dangerous trucks and heavy duty vehicles, causing deaths almost on daily basis. Travelers along the road tell tales of daily accidents and frustrations from heavy duty trucks, and warned that if urgent measures are not taken, that the road will collapse entirely. If such important road collapses, that means the citizens of Abor, Ukana, Awhum, Okpatu, Umulumgbe and Ukehe must have been cut off from the rest of the world. Whoever is the contractor handling the express, most do well to open one lane of the express to alleviate the immeasurable pains of those going to the north from Onitsha and Lagos.
Maintaining Enugu rural roads
Rural communities are important in the governance of any nation for being feeder regions for food production and recreational pleasure for many city dwellers who love to spend weekends with their beloved ones. The roads should be implemented and supervised by the State Project Implementation Unit (SPIU) and through its activities the project will impact on the affected communities by making available ease of access which will bring civilized livelihood to the poor and equally will advance the wealth of the state.
In the state, a lot of the rural roads are in a state of poor shape. When such roads are transformed, farmers and traders equally will experience explosion in their activities as they will find it easier to get to their farms. Commercial and social activities in many of our communities will be binary.
The state should get into the hinterlands of our communities which have been hacked off by rivers from major markets to build bridges that will enable them have entrée to the markets and villages.
Apart from easy access to the market, well built roads in the rural areas will enable difficult activities in most of the rural communities because Lorries will find it easier to penetrate hinterlands without getting trapped in mud during rainy season.
There is every possibility that novel public and private schools as well as petrol filling stations can leap on a daily basis in most of the rural communities because the roads will now become passable and the number of cars traveling the roads will now expand. Good roads as they say, beyond doubt, relieve the brisk progress of a quarter.