Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
It has been outpouring of encomiums from Abia stakeholders on Governor Alex Otti for awarding the reconstruction of Port Harcourt Road Aba to Julius Berger, a reputable construction company.
The stakeholders from different political backgrounds are in agreement that the project was one of the major needs of the state.
Besides commending the Governor for initiating the project, the stakeholders also berated critics who are raising eyebrows over the alleged high cost of the project.
Ikengaonline had reported that Gov. Otti who flagged off the project on Thursday, awarded the 6.8 kilometer road to Julius Berger at the tune of N30 billion.
Former Minister of State for Solid Minerals and Steel Development, and factional governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Dr Uchechukwu Sampson Ogah, said Otti had not disappointed him.
He declared his total and unmitigated support for Otti, adding that the Governor is still on track.
“I have no regrets in supporting Dr Alex Otti because what he is doing is the same thing I would have done if I were elected the Governor.
“Remember I promised Aba people that seven days after my swearing in as Governor, I will bring Julius Berger to Aba to fix that Road, and Dr Otti has just done that.
“We know that JB is one of the best construction firms in the country, and they will do a quality job there. I’m in support of what he has done and I’m proud of him and will continue to give him support because this is what we have been waiting for for 24 years.”
The former Minister who said he had similar manifesto with Otti, expressed delight that Abia “is now a preferred destination for investors.”
“Investors are now coming in. Everyday, every week he is doing something new for Abia people. Otti is somebody with capacity, and he can deliver on his mandate.
“You can see we had a similar blueprint when we were all contesting for governorship. He is doing great and I am supporting him, and will continue to support him.”
On the alleged high cost of the project by the opposition, the former Minister accused the immediate past administration of playing to the gallery and seeking relevance.
Ogah challenged the past administration to disclose the cost of any key project it executed, and warned some hired agents of the past administration against distracting the Governor.
“What did PDP do with all the billions of Naira it collected while in power? PDP received over N300 billion while it held sway in the state. So, what was its achievements with all the monies?
“We are not talking of cost now; we want action. In 2016 dollar was exchanging for N154 but today one dollar exchanges for over N1000.
“If PDP had used all the money it received while in power to develop Abia State, nobody will still be talking of reconstructing Port Harcourt Road Aba today.
“I won’t blame PDP because it was not engaging in construction work and wouldn’t know how to compare costs. Which project will PDP use to compare?
“Before criticising another person, PDP should first tell Abians the cost of the Osisioma flyover it built. What they are claiming to have spent on that project was what Gov. Dave Umahi used in building 13 bridges in Ebonyi State then.”
The APC factionalised governorship candidate warned the opposition against distracting the Governor.
“They should allow the man to do governance. People are just carrying unnecessary propaganda, and Abia doesn’t need it. Settle down and watch the man. If after four years he is unable to deliver, then you can begin to talk, and not from this day one.
“I saw a post of bad road in Aba that somebody made, and I said: it’s the rot that PDP left in Abia. It’s not Alex Otti who just took over power.
“Otti has the capacity, the drive, and the passion. He knows where he is going and Abians from different political divides are solidly behind him. He has a promise and commitment with the people, and he will deliver.”
Similarly, former Senate President and the Chairman Board of Trustees, BoT, of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, Senator Adolphus Wabara, said Otti had used the project to secure his second term ticked.
“The Governor is reliable and a true man of honour. With this feat alone, his second term in office is already well assured. He is a Master Strategist. He wasn’t a top banker for nothing.”
On the alleged high cost of the project, Senator Wabara argued that those behind such narrative might have lost touch with the current foreign exchange rate.
According to the former Senate President, Otti should rather be applauded for even being transparent enough to disclose the contract sum unlike what obtained in the past where such information was concealed.
“We are in the era where 1000 dollar now exchanges for N1.5 million. We are not in the era where one dollar was N190. So, if you convert N30 billion to dollars what do you think will be the equivalent?
“And when you talk of a reputable construction company like JB, you should know money will be involved because they give quality job.
“I even pray that N30 billion will be enough to complete the project in view of the high exchange rate. In fact, we should even commend the administration for coming up with the contract sum.
“Not every Governor or administration will be transparent enough to disclose the contract sum. I think the Governor should be applauded for even getting the project at N30 billion.
“What matters is that we have gotten someone who will give us what we want on that road, and not those who will charge N25 billion, and in the next five years, we spend another N50 billion on the same road.”
The PDP BoT Chairman cautioned against frivolous critical remarks against the Government, advising that the opposition should be constructive in its criticisms.
“They should just allow the sleeping dogs. We are currently in the opposition in the state. We should not criticise for the sake of criticism. We should criticise constructively.
“We should give honour to whom honour is due so that by the time we start lashing out at the administration, they will know we are being very objective and not just criticising out of envy.”
Reacting also, former PDP Chairman in the state, Senator Emma Nwaka, said that Gov. Otti had his “100% support.”
The former PDP Chairman further made case for the engagement of JB in the construction of other important roads in the state.
“This road is not the only road we we are expecting JB to do in the state. It will be wonderful if it will also handle the Umuahia-Arochukwu Road which has been in terrible condition for years, to give the people a sense of belonging.”
Similarly, Coalition of South-East Youths Leaders, has applauded Otti for the project, saying he has achieved in four months, what his predecessor could not achieve in eight years.
COSEYL, in a press statement by its President General, Comrade Goodluck Ibem, described Otti as a hero, and pledged support for his administration.
“The former administration of Okezie Ikpeazu could not construct Port Harcourt road after several promises on radio and TV live programmes to construct the road. Okezie Ikpeazu remains the most shameless Governor Abia State has ever produced.
“Gov Otti has proved beyond every reasonable doubt that he came into the business of governance to serve humanity and his generation. He is a rare gem of all times.
“The mammoth crowd that turned out today to witness the epic flag-off of Port Harcourt road that the previous administration borrowed money from foreign and international banks and couldn’t rehabilitate is a testament that this administration is people oriented.”