■ Flags off road construction, asphalting of compounds, mounting of streetlights
Obinna Odogwu, Abakaliki
Anglican faithful in the Diocese of Abakaliki, especially those worshipping at All Saints’ Cathedral, Abakaliki, were literally wrapped in an envelope of joy and excitement recently. Their good feelings and excitements came about following the flag off for the reconstruction of the road that leads to the cathedral by the Ebonyi State Government.
Also to be constructed is the compound of the cathedral, which, according to the government, would be asphalted and mounted with solar-powered streetlights starting from the beginning of the new road to the church compound.
Before then, the about 135-metre road that leads to the Cathedral church was dilapidated. Despite being in the heart of the town, the church members lamented that successive government turned blind eye to it each time they executed road projects in the state capital.
Save for the remedial work which the members of the church carried out on it from time to time, it might have failed completely.
The cathedral which hosts a beehive of activities is just a stone throw away from the Government House. Every day, one activity or the other takes place in the church given that it is a rallying point for all the Anglican churches in that diocese.
Giving an insight into the deplorable state of the road during the flag off ceremony, the Bishop of the diocese, Rt. Rev. Monday C. Nkwoagu, disclosed that the road was as old as the church and has remained dilapidated about 60 years after.
“The road started as far back as 1958/9 when the church came here. There was no passage so, we made a road. Since then we have been maintaining it. And all the time, it has been the members of the church that have been maintaining the road anytime potholes appear on it.
“We buy cement, chippings, and other necessary materials and repair it for the road to be passable because we are the first to come here. From time to time, we clear it because the road is ours.
“I want to say that when His Excellency came on board, I saw him build few roads that lead into different churches. I started praying my mind that one day we will be remembered. In fact, some people told me to go and remind him that we are also in the urban. I said well, God’s time is the best.
“And when he came, he made a pronouncement himself and now is the take off. And they way we are seeing it, may be our own will be the best. He, who laughs last, laughs best”, the cleric enthused.
Also speaking, the Chairman of Abakaliki Local Government Area, Mr Emma Nwangele, lauded the state Governor, Chief David Umahi, for embarking on the construction work in the council area under his control.
“Gov. Umahi is a God-sent man and that is why he always manifests it through his numerous projects. This place, even though it appears hidden, he discovered it and saw the need to reconstruct the road and as well asphalt the entire premises of the church. That shows that he is a wonderful man whose magnanimity has crossed every boundary,” he said.
The Coordinator of Abakaliki Development Centre, Mr Nwiboko Chukwuma, was thankful to the Ebonyi State governor, Umahi for remembering the church almost 60 years after they came on board in that vicinity.
For Chief Fred Onwe, the Chairman of Works Committee in All Saints Cathedral, it was a wonderful experience. He said that he was particularly happy because it was happening in his own tenure.
“In my tenure, history is made; that asphalt will be laid on this road and the entire church compound will be asphalted. I feel overwhelmed”, he said, excitedly.
He said that regardless that a major work is being done; it would not eclipse his committee from existence. “My committee will continue to exist for evangelism. From this place now, we have another place we are working. So, it’s expanding. I am very, very happy that cutting of grass will reduce here and we will go to other side for evangelism”, he added.
In his speech, the state Governor, Chief David Umahi, represented by his Senior Special Assistant on Infrastructure Maintenance, Chief Ali Odefa, explained that the state government was moved to embark on the reconstruction work given the dilapidated state of the road.
“First of all, this is a very dilapidated road. This road has been left unattended to professionally for since 1958/9 when this church moved to this place. All along, what this church did was intervention work where necessary. And as soon as those works fail, they try to patch it up as well.
“That’s what prompted the state government, as part of its cooperate social responsibility to the people of Ebonyi State, to undertake the total reconstruction and asphalting of this road.
“Now, this road is 135 metres from the Ogoja road to the Cathedral gate. And it is sitting on solid concrete and asphalt overlay. We are concreting it. We have introduced line drains on both sides so that erosion will not destroy the road.
“Again, we are extending asphalting to compound of the church such that the carport and other areas around the new cathedral will be asphalted. We are also introducing drains there so that we can control erosion.
“You will be shocked that this 135 metre of road with all the facilities is just a token N15 million and another N38 million or thereabout for the asphalting of the compound. It is, as usual, our expectation and believes that after we finish working on this road, it will take another 100 years for it to fail because the quality of the concrete is grade 40 concrete”, he narrated.
Odefa disclosed that aside the concrete work, solar-powered streetlights would be mounted on the church premises and the new road.
“There is a contractor that came to take measurement. Our intention is to put streetlights throughout the length of the road and the inside the compound of the cathedral. And they are solar-powered streetlights so that the church doesn’t have to make further expenses running on gas, servicing of generators and all that”, he added.
Meanwhile, a cross section of the Anglican faithful who spoke with Daily Sun on the venue expressed happiness over the kind gesture of the state government.