Golgotha, that rocky place where unfortunate folks of the Bible era were put to death continues to come to mind whenever I ponder on the decay of infrastructure in the entire South East of Nigeria. According to the Biblical account of the death of Jesus the Christ, the road to Golgotha was rough, rocky and treacherous. Thousands of years later, this is the situation in the modern day Igboland; roads still remain treacherous and those that are forced to ply them die rather horribly.
For the purpose of this essay, I wish to reiterate that the Governors of the five South East states past and present should be filled with shame for allowing the entire road networks in that region to get to its present horrible condition. This is a classic example of the failure of leadership and these men ought to be filled with shame and contrition-they should find it in themselves to have the moral strength to come out openly to tender a heart-felt apology to Ndi Igbo. All the entry points into Igboland remain a good depiction of a trip into the Hobbesian state of nature; gully-filled roads that destroy both the vehicles that ply them and the human cargo they are ferrying around. Tell me what else could be more horrible.
Amongst others, of particular interest to me are the death traps of Enugu-Onitsha “expressway”, Onitsha-Owerri road and the Uga-Okigwe road. For those who dare ply these roads, books could be written thereafter on the limits of human endurance. Of course, they are all “federal roads” which successive governments of the Federal Republic have found rather too convenient to play politics with-the result is that lives are daily lost, goods worth millions of Naira destroyed, human minds wrecked while the government talks such senseless trash as “the dividends of democracy”. The governors of the five South East states continue to blame the federal government for either failing to fix the roads or providing meager funds- this is all nonsense when one is confronted with the fact that the lives that are lost, the limbs that are maimed, the sanity that is lost, and the goods damaged are mainly of their people. Will the heavens come down on us if these Governors pull resources together to fix the roads in Igboland and present the bill to the federal government?
Of course, it is no longer news that our Governors moan so much about receiving so little from the Center in allocations but we all know that this is hot air. I still find it exceptionally difficult trying to understand what it feels like for those that swore to serve the people to turn around and lie to same people. I say this because all the past Governors of the five South East states were men of moderate financial muscle but became curiously wealthy at the end of their tenures; Orji Uzor Kalu, Chimaroke Nnamani, Chinwoke Mbadinuju, Sam Egwu , Achike Udenwa and Ikedi Ohakim. Tell me any of these men that have not being dragged to the EFCC for allegedly embezzling billons of Naira of public money. A solid evidence that exposes our Governors as a bunch of men afflicted with the worst type of insincerity is the recent report by The Punch newspapers [Saturday, July 16th] of how state Governors conceal Security Votes. The gist on Security Vote will be for another day, but mention must be made that this is a classic example of how our elected officials rob us all blind. Many thanks to Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State for daring to give us a fair figure of how much Governors receive as Security Vote monthly with his decision to use a staggering part of his allocation to fund free education in his state-this is quite commendable.
Interestingly, Anambra State appears to have the worst network of federal roads in the entire South East region of Nigeria-curiously, the state Governor Mr. Peter Obi goes to a great extent to conceal how much he pockets monthly as Security Vote. Two federal roads that ought to put Mr. Obi and all the past Governors of Anambra State to shame are the Onitsha-Awka “expressway” and the Onitsha-Awka old road; these roads have totally collapsed and a comical display of repair works remain what one see. To allow our two major roads to revert to tractor-paths while erecting huge billboards all across the state that insults us with the “achievements” of Mr. Obi’s administration is shameful. What is that nonsense about delivering the dividends of democracy [I still don’t know what dividends of democracy means] when your citizens can not safely move about because the roads they are forced to ply are practically washed out?
The much talked about egalitarian and enterprising nature of the Igbo folks remain tainted when one is confronted with the level of infrastructural decay in the states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo. It is true that these states have so many money bags whose lucre is actively displayed in the mansions they build-but made nonsense by the fact that roads that lead to the various communities where such mansions are built remain either filled with gullies or not tarred. Nnewi and Aba are two towns in Igboland that should put our Governors to shame-towns where commerce and industry thrive but remain undeveloped. The only known enterprise that compete with the ingenuity of the Igbos in these towns are kidnapping and armed robbery; crimes which have caused so much human and economic flight in those states. While the Security Votes collected by our Governors appear not to be providing security for our people, one is compelled to observe that the Governors build business empires that wax stronger by the day.
Apart from Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State who is a new kid on the block, I wish to state without mincing words that the Governors we have in Igboland are mostly men who are incredibly clueless. It is a terrible assault on reason when these men make so much noise about “building roads, sinking of shallow boreholes, and building of health centers” and all other similar uninspiring projects; pray, why else do we have governments if not to provide for the good of our society? Why buy up spaces in newspapers to celebrate the completion of “1.2 kilometer road”, and similar projects? Is this what we should be talking about in this 21st century? Point to one exceptional project embarked on by any state in the South East, show me that exceptional deed by any state Governor in Igboland [apart from the free education policy in Imo State] which celebrate the beauty of modern government, could someone please show me where in Igboland government has done something that will promote education, industry, good healthcare etc. It is really depressing that instead of building libraries, Anambra and Enugu states concentrate more on building “International Markets” which further encourage our males to scoff at going to school. Enugu State government committed the greatest blunder by selling off the once beautiful Polo Park where a shopping complex is now being built-this is the height of gaffe.
Now, we might resort to waiting for the spirits of those who have lost their lives plying the death traps sinfully called roads in the South East to come back from the great divide to haunt our governments. We might also wait for God to intervene on our behalf since these Governors all swore in His name to work for us-in which case we might all die waiting. It is clear to me that God does not kill those who take our money and give us mediocre services. However, I am compelled to subscribe to an earlier suggestion by Dr. Nkwo Nnabuchi to the effect that our elected officials take their oath of office with Alusi. In Igboland, Alusi kills those that swear falsely. Nothing could be more deterring, to say the least. Alternatively, we could all embrace the habit of demanding for proper service from our elected officials; in a true democracy, real power belongs to the people. Our Governors who begged for our votes owe us quality service and the sooner we start insisting that they deliver on their promises, the better for us. Until we imbibe this culture, our roads in Igboland we remain death traps while the Federal Government dithers-and our Governors continue with the lie that “there is no money”.