As we embarked on what turned out to be an emergency unscheduled vacation to “London” via Nsuka by road, little did I know that I would be adding to it another national assignment, the unscheduled and unsolicited inspection of both federal and state roads in the southern part of Nigeria.
Interestingly, it coincided with one of the northern governors’, El Rufai, unscheduled inspection of hospitals in his state. From his experience and mine, which I’ll share here, it appears the best thing to do these days in order to actually feel the real pulse of the people who have put us in government! (where is that icon with tongue lashed out).
My contingent consisted of my three daughters, seated at the back of the car. Our first stop by a police check point was to take our family picture, as the man explained when I thought he was about asking for my particulars! You all look great! he exclaimed while admiring the asoebi my sister in-law made for us.
We zoomed off after the exchange of pleasantries and a confirmation that we did not need any police entourage for our journey since we already had some join us from heaven that morning, I think around a thousand Angels volunteered at no security cost to the nation.
We cruised all the way to Owerri via Aba with rain hammering us all the way from Aba to Owerri, so there was no way of judging the state of that road but suffice it to say that it was motorable but my crew did not apportion any marks until we got to Owerri.
They only had some metrological lessons in rain making until we landed in Owerri where, we saw, Rochas has turned into a massive construction site. Little did we know that Ohakim, the past governor was also on the same emergency road or projects inspection.
From Okigwe road, to Mbaise road, all have been excavated, my brother and I couldn’t help but agree that if we could close our eyes for once and say think of how the town will look if all the excavated roads were to be tarred today, that it will be such a lovely place to behold.
Also it was important to note that in a recession, massive investment in construction is part of the solutions to jump starting the economy. Rochas seems to know this even though some people will not agree and were we are aligned is that he needed to get some priorities right such as ensuring workers are paid their due wages as he cannot tell anyone that he has not drawn his own salary. Anyway, given what my inspection team saw, we gave Rochas an “Amba” while noting the job needs to be carried on to completion.
Next stop was Anambra, where my name sake did such wonders that Mr Common sense has been using Anambra as an example to the pride of everyone from that region. Unfortunately and to my disappointment, I could not pass through the Igbo Ukwu-Ekwulobia road were the Igbo Ukwu museum is located in order to give the kids some lessons in History as I had expected to.
This was because the road has completely failed so we had to use a bypass to avoid the bad spot. I used to be proud of Anambra roads and will shout about it from the roof tops but not anymore. Even the Ekwulobia, Agulu (Dora Akunyili’s Village),and Awka roads are not faring better. I hear Obiano is working but I need to be able to pass through the roads to go see things for myself.
I am yet to confirm from my Aunti whether he is still paying the aged the five thousand naira Peter Obi was paying them or has it entered voice mail? For not ensuring that my kids get their deserved lesson in History and other documented lapses on Anambra roads, my team gave Obiano an “Amba”.
We specifically took note of Agulu, Mbaukwu, Nibo, Ifite Nibo and Awka roads which we rated good. And this was after my pleading because some of them wanted to draw the “red” but I intervened on personal recognition given that I got a call from the government house that something was been done.
Unfortunately, his Enugu counterpart was not that lucky as I could not restrain my inspection colleagues that were feeling the pains of the bad roads. On several occasions I shouted “Praise God” we have come to the end of the nightmare only for us to re-enter worse portions on the Awka-Enugu old road, a state road which is supposed to serve as an alternative to the totally failed Onitsha-Enugu expressway which is a Federal road.
From Agungwu which was the only good one, through Ude, Obinagu, Agolo, Okpuno, Upata, Aguabosi, Oji River, Dodo (yes Dodo, as in plantain is the name of someone’s village!), we then passed through the Leprosy service centre at Orji River and continued to Nachi, Umuabi, saw the FRSC Academy, went through Abia (not the state, but a village in Enugu state!), Obioma, Nsude, before arriving at 9th mile. All that stretch was rated “red”.
The governor responsible and the Federal government will soon hear from us. My team wondered whether those villages were not part of any state at all that they were so neglected. But they may be lucky compared to the people along the road to Nsuka, who host one of the foremost universities in Nigeria.
From 9th mile, to Egede, to Amoka, Umoka, Ochima, Ohodo, all was bad and deadly until we got to Nsuka. We almost swore never to return to that town until we learnt of an alternative route to Nike in Enugu from Nsuka which we explored on our way back and it turned out nice and smooth that we had to reconsider our decision earlier of considering never to return.
During the return trip, we went through the long stretch from Enugu down to Port Harcourt with intermittent bad portions on the federal highway but generally the road was good until we approached Port Harcourt where we observed the road was relatively bad compared to the portions in the South East which is so sad considering the position of Rivers in the scheme of things in this country.
In all of these, I wondered what it would be like if all these roads we traversed were smooth ten lane roads such that Nigerians could feel safe to travel across the country and enjoy the scenery and natural beauty that abound in the country.
The lush green hills along Nsuka and Enugu were what I set out to go view and I did enjoy the sites and equally the sight but would have enjoyed it more if the roads were better. The quiet university environment was another attraction for me and I also enjoyed it coupled with the nice suya I had from the staff club.
Interestingly we also saw some other family (a lady and her kid) that also came for vacation at the university and I suspect they also came from London to our ‘London’ given the intonation of the woman.
Now the results are out, all concerned parties must put hands on deck to ensure improved delivery to our people even if it means using their security vote and other allowances. After all, we carried out this one week assignment without drawing any of those votes.
Obidike Peter wrote from www.peterobidike.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday 2nd October 2016