By PROMISE UDEH
Flyovers/bridges are not constructed for the fun of it, they go beyond aesthetics and are meant to connect distinct localities for ease in the human traffic and economic movements.
Dreams about bridges have serious cosmological meanings; depicting access to life-changing opportunities. Traditionally, few individuals are awarded the titles of “Bridge Builders” for their ability to unite people beyond ethnic and socioeconomic class. Suffix to say, bridges/flyovers possess great values and meanings in human, engineering, traditional and cosmological realm. Hence, embarking on a physical bridge/flyover requires seriousness and prudence. In other words, don’t start one if you will be cajoled to finish it.
Talking about “finishing what you started”, a flashback will be helpful. In my childhood years, I recall an occurrence of filling my plate with rice on a particular boxing day simply bbecause my health did not enable me to eat on Christmas day when other kids muched meats and demolished plates of rice. My cousins laughed as father took his cane and did the needful, the lesson to dish-out rice in accordance with what my stomach can finish was learnt in a hard way and the rest they say is history.
But lessons with canes cannot be replicated in governance, given that, a Governor is an adult that requires no parental wipes to fall in line when scooping the rice of infrastructures and projects such as the infamous Osisioma bridge, which was conceived but difficult to complete
The Osisioma Flyover/Bridge (now called Osisioma Centre Table, Osisioma monument, or Osisioma Iron Bed, depending on what terms tickles your fancy) have become a tragicomedy movie; showing Abia Elewe Ebewe State poor infrastructural trajectory. Many are of the opinion that, this is what happens when a government which cannot boast of fulfilling any infrastructural promises scoops more rice than it can chew by embarking on a flyover bridge either to make money from it or simply because her neighboring states of Imo, Ebonyi, Enugu and Akwaibom amongst others are massively erecting flyovers in few months to ease traffic congestion and enhance economic activities. Abia Governor must have said to himself, “if Dave Umahi in Ebonyi state of yesterday can have as much as 5 flyovers in 5 years with 4 more underway, why can’t I, a PhD holder, do same in Abia State?”. But flyovers and other infrastructures do not depend on PhD or word of mouth.
What is the missing link in project delivery, given that Abia state earns more in FAAC, enjoys the Oil Producing States 13% derivation status than “Ebonyi State of yesterday” and earns more IGR from Aba industries ahead of Ebonyi state? The answer is simply – Financial insincerity and leadership failure.
Two facts are shockingly true. Firstly, there is no timeline for completion of the osisioma bridge. Whereas, Anambra state completed and delivered 3 similar bridges in 1 year and 3 months. Secondly, the Osisioma flyover was projected to cost Abia State close to a whooping N5bn. Three (3) similar bridges cost Anambra State under Gov Willie Obiano the sum of N5bn which ironically Gov Ikpeazu was using to build one (1) bridge. That means Gov Obiano of Anambra State may have used N1.7bn to build one bridge while Gov Okezie was using N5bn in Abia State – a difference of more than N3b (are you thinking what I am thinking?).
The unrealisable completion of the infamous Osisioma Bridge, since January 20, 2017, is a reflection of financial sleeze, money-scooping, motives and unprepared leadership which led to it’s commencement. The Osisioma bridge is but an iceberg of numerous unfulfilled promises of Abia state government. For instance, recall that, upon assumption of office, there were promises that Aba traders will not be subjected to taxes due to the pitiable state of infrastructure in various markets which scared traders and customers away. Today, the administration have imposed multiple taxation on the traders.
In December 2016, the State charged the newly sworn in 17 LGA Chairmen to identify three projects in each ward within their various LGAs that will receive urgent attention from the state government through them. The same promises have gone the Osisioma bridge way.
In February 2017, Governor Ikpeazu also promised to do a 10 kilometers asphalted road in each of 17 LGAs that made up Abia state, typically again, he asked the 17 council bosses to identify and submit proposed roads which requires attention to him. In it’s characteristic manner, the BCA sang praises to high heavens, the governor’s aides masturbated it on various social media platforms. Till date, nothing has become of it as it has been “osisiomanised”.
Osisioma flyover project is yet another significant pointer to numerous unfulfilled projects and promises in Abia, Elewe Ebewe State.