Raymond Ozoji, Awka
It was a barrage of complaints from lawmakers during the legislative session of the Anambra State House of Assembly yesterday as each member of the House took turn to remonstrate on the deplorable conditions of roads across their various constituencies.
Edward Obiefuna Ibuzo of Onitsha-North 2 state constituency whose motion on the deplorable state of Akpaka forest road in Onitsha-North 2 constituency sparked off the rain of emotionally-ladened arguments on the blight cast on citizens accessing roads in the state.
Ibuzo who emphasized that Akpaka forest road was a major road in Onitsha, noted that the neglect and abandonment of the road has caused more economic hardships and sufferings for people trying to use the said road. Cognisant of the fact that the governor was working on some other roads in Onitsha-North 2, he was of the opinion that constituency representatives were not involved in the selection of projects to be executed in their domains.
The lawmaker therefore explained that the actions and decisions of government ministries, departments,agencies and parastatals were evident in the nature of projects being executed because some of the projects according to him were not in tandem with the felt-needs of the people, stressing that the fact that Nigeria was regarded as third world country does imply that Nigerians should be third world in their brains.
He argued that exclusion of constituency representatives in projects selection and implementation have resulted in projects not realised through scale of preference and actual felt-need of the beneficiaries. Ibuzo said, ” I was summoned by the landlords in my constituency in 2017 and after considering their presentations, I promised them that they should hold me responsible if before 2019 governnent didn’t do the road. I went to the commissioner for works and I tabled all these things before him but all to no avail.
” The road is over 60 years old and we are only asking for a 4 kilometre road. I am representing Onitsha-North constituency 2 and I believe that any project that is coming to Onitsha-North constituency 2, I must be carried along. His Excellency Chief Dr.Willie Obiano is doing alot of roads in Onitsha but the road that is so dear to us and more important than other road is this Akpaka by-pass, just a 4 kilometre road.
” For that singular act that a contract will be done in your constiuency and you will not be carried along is the problem we are facing now. It’s time we enacted a law that whenever a contract or project is coming to any constituency, the lawmaker representing that constituency must be carried along because the lawmaker is not appointed but elected by the people and has their mandate to speak on their behalf.
” For the commissioner of works not to have taken my phone calls since 2014 and despite several visits to his office to address the Akpaka forest road, I hereby call for his resignation. Let the commissioner for works resign because we need someone who will tell the governor the truth about the state of roads and other projects in Anambra state.” Ibuzo stressed.
Lawrence Chukwuweike Ezeudu of Dunukofia state constituency who supported the motion moved by Eddy Ibuzo, said the road in question was a serious road and should be attended to without further delays. Ezeudu emphasized that there was absolute need to alleviate the sufferings of those residing around 3-3 axis of Onitsha who had to struggle through heavy traffic gridlocks in accessing the road because of its poor condition.
Meanwhile Mr.Douglas Nwachukwu Egbuna who represents Onitsha-North 1 state constiuency associated himself with the submissions of his colleagues on the impassible nature of Akpaka forest road but added that the state of roads in Onitsha and its environs were in total hopelessness. Egbuna also disclosed that the agency known and described as Anambra State Road Maintenance Agency, saddled with the responsibility of road maintenance has failed the state woefully and should be scrapped totally.
He said , ” I wouldn’t know if the state government wants to phase out road transportation and resort to air transport and maybe build air-strips in Akpaka, Okpoko,Orumba and so on , otherwise the governnent should be responsible and responsive to the yearnings of the electorates.”
Chuka Ezewune of Idemili-South state constituency in his submissions said that Onitsha is the economic hub of Anambra state and urbanization was drifting towards Akpaka forest area, Nsugbe, 3-3 and other neighbouring towns close to Onitsha but expressed concern that the situation at Akpaka forest road was horrific.
Ezewune noted that there maybe a total lockdown in the area because of the very deplorable state of the Akpaka forest road, noting that a time would come when surrounding towns won’t be able to access Onitsha.
He said ,” if you are residing around Akpaka forest area , trans-Nkisi , Nsugbe down to Nkweleezunaka, you must wake up like Lagosians by 4:30 or 5am and you must hit the road before it is 6:30am. And if you are going home, do not allow 4pm to catch up with you, otherwise you will be on that Akpaka forest road till 12 midnight.”
Having critically considered the suggestions, contributions and submissions of the lawmakers who bared their minds on the melancholic state of Akpaka forest road and other roads in Onitsha, Speaker of the state assembly and member representing Ayamelum state constiuency, Rt.Hon. Uche Victor Okafor said indeed the Akpaka forest road constituted nightmares to the people especially as it concerns incessant traffic gridlocks in the area.
Okafor therefore ruled that the state assembly resolved that the governor should direct the contractor handling Akpaka forest road to immediately return to work to ameliorate the sufferings of people in 3-3 axis of Onitsha.
However, the works commissioner, Mr.Marcel Ifejiofor in his defense told our correspondent in his office that it was not within the purview of the state assembly to order his resignation or outright sack from office.
Ifejiofor therefore stated categorically that he has not done anything to warrant his being relieved of his appointment and if anything of sort happened, it was the Secretary to the State Government that would issue such notice and not the state assembly. So according to him, the call for his resignation by the state assembly was unofficial.