From Ogbonnaya Ndukwe, Aba

Prominent Abia traditional ruler, Eze Nzenwata Mbakwe has challenged the new Governor of Abia State, Alex Otti to review the aesthetics of Umuahia by giving it a facelift that was befitting of state capital status.

 He noted with dismay that for over 30 years, the capital city had remained an ordinary glorified village lacking in infrastructure and aesthetics.

 He debunked the notion that owners of the land had refused to release their vast environment to developers, a situation that led to such investors shying away from coming in to contribute towards the socio-economic and infrastructural growth of the town.

 He wondered why past administrations of “God’s Own State,” especially the civilian governors in the past 24 years, found it expedient to administer Abia, from rented buildings as government house.

 Eze Mbakwe advised the Otti administration to do things differently, by building needed infrastructure: “People have been saying that land owners in Umuahia were not cooperating with government by donating land for development. This is not true; our people have always been willing to make land available for government projects. 

“Our new governor, Dr Alex Otti, should lead us away from such insinuations. We ought to emulate our brothers and neighbours in Ebonyi, Anambra, Delta and others that are far ahead of Abia in development.

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 “Abakaliki, Asaba, Awka, and even Uyo, in Akwa Ibom State, were in the state of being called villages before they became capitals. But now, all of them are several mile’s ahead of Umuahia, in physical change and development, with high rise buildings, infrastructure that befit major cities and government presence.”

 In addition, the revered traditional ruler called for the involvement of Local Government Councils in development, urging that the people should be allowed to elect Chairmen and councillors of their choice. He added that those elected should be given free hand to manage their affairs, instead of using transition committees appointed by the governor and his party to do the job.

 He further advocated that Councils, especially those in urban areas like Aba and Umuahia, should take full responsibility of sanitation and disposal of refuse in their localities: “ASEPA has failed in environmental sanitation duties in our urban towns.

So, I suggest that the responsibility be returned to the Local Government Councils, which have environmental health officers, and other staff to take charge of collecting and carting away refuse from our cities.

 “Government should also return internal revenue collection to the Board of Internal Revenue. It has the trained revenue officers, who are currently deprived of their official responsibilities, that are given out to contractors.”

 He said Abia people were upbeat that the Otti-led administration will move the state out of its present poor situation.