By Gift Jay Ehiedu
All these years in the course of the struggle to keep body and soul together by operating commercial motorcycle popularly known as ‘Okada’, I have been to so many places in Ika nation and even beyond. Consequently, I have come in contact with a lot of persons (passengers), some of whose comments at times on some issues of life especially as regards activities of government, I am used to hearing as we ride along.
On one of such occasions some couple of months ago, I was taking a passenger who boarded my motorcycle from a location in ‘Orogodo’ city, to a community along Agbor section of Agbor-Sakponba-Ogharefe road, also known as Alihame-Agbor-Nta-Oki road in Ika South Local
Government Area of Delta State. As we made the trip, we got to one of the communities along that route, precisely, Alihame community. And as we began to meander through the road in an attempt to avoid some water logged potholes that littered the whole road and some erosion prone areas of the road, following a heavy downpour some few minutes earlier, we got to a point, it seemed something surprising struck my passenger as I heard him scream in shock in a way typical of an average ‘Safi’ man with this question like statement: ‘Sho-oh! Okowa, E No Reach Here?’
In fact, immediately I heard that statement from my passenger friend, I didn’t say anything but rather went into some deep moments of reflection, wondering the import of the statement by my passenger friend. In my raging thoughts, I arrived at some conclusions but I never cared at such to bother him with any enquiries as to what informed that statement just as I wasn’t the much in a hurry to make any response either, as I saw it not directly aimed at me. I could also conjecture in my mind that my passenger friend perhaps might be paying some visit to the place for the first time or probably it might be a long time he left there if at all he happens to hail from any of the communities along that road or places in Ika nation.
I guessed he may have seen or heard of the exploits of His Excellency, Ifeanyi Okowa, since he became governor of Delta State mostly in the area of roads across the state.
In the course of our conversations, it became obviously clear to me that my passenger friend was actually paying a visit to the place the first time. He confirmed all my thoughts about the whole issue. He made me know that where he was coming from and the places he passed while arriving at the spot I picked him up, that one would hardly see a road in such deplorable state, stating that the governor had touched them positively. He went further by asking ‘what went wrong with that one?’
It was against this backdrop, I felt obliged to say something. On the said road, he was made to know that there was nothing unusual that has gone on that culminated in the road being in such pitiable condition even as other major roads in or outside the locality seemed to have been given attention by His Excellency since he assumed the administration of the state. My good friend was referred to the sayings that ‘life is a gradual process’, ‘turn by turn’ and that ‘if one is not opportuned to have something today, he might get it tomorrow’ and as for the road, he was made to know also that it supposedly belonged to the federal government of Nigeria, but since the federal government seemed not alive to its social responsibility to the people in that regard, one would not be mistaken to believe that the state government will take it upon themselves to intervene appropriately as the road has immense socioeconomic importance to the people of the affected communities and the state at large. More also, my humble friend was made to understand that just as he or any individual would want all his needs met in one day if it were possible, so also does every good leadership for her people and in this respect, Okowa’s administration but for the limited resources.
This was where this writer likened Okowa’s administration to ‘oil of progress and development’ poured on a smooth and flat cement floor of a lounge, which if nothing is done to clean it, will definitely spread to all the nooks and crannies of the floor, while stressing that with regard to the road in question, it is just a matter of time and patience on the part of the people of the affected communities, the road will be accorded the needed attention by government. These and other things we discussed as we made the journey.
One would not hesitate to state here that hardly has it got up to eight months after that encounter than the road got government’s intervention as it was awarded for construction and rehabilitation by Delta State government, last February. Consequently, every good and progress loving people of the benefitting communities owe sincere and eternal gratitude to His Excellency. The contracting firm has since mobilised to site and construction work going on smoothly and at a very fast pace.
Judging by the way construction work took off and progressed initially, one thought it will take less than six months and the project is duly delivered but may I crave your indulgence to state here based on some observations, that since over five months now, the job seem to record some slow pace, fuelling some speculations of a possible gradual abandoning or probable problem of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the rains, or funding shortfalls.
Whatever the hiccups may be, we still firmly believe and hope the construction work will pick up again as soon as possible even as we will not fail here to give a thumbs up to the contracting firm for the nice job already done so far on the project as we pray for more effort.
On the drainage system for the road, we humbly appeal to His Excellency and the contracting firm to ensure a good and thorough job. From the assessment of the road and our findings this rainy season which we firmly believe has been taken note of by the authorities, the road requires at both sides, a non-stop stretch of gutters and adequate converts for channelling the waters to the appropriate courses right from Alihame community to Agbor-Nta community especially at Ewuru road junction and some parts of Oki community if there was no adequate provision for drainage for the entire road in the budget. Other parts of the road not stated here are where the road can at least record some flat grounds while the above mentioned places are where most of the slopes and erosions occur. This is to ensure that the road stands the test of time after construction.
In fact, the sand carrying heavy floods that emanate from the streets opposite Baptist Girls’ High School, Alihame and other adjoining streets roads in Alihame, Aliokpu, Aliagwai and some parts of Agbor-Nta community into this main road whenever it rains speak volumes. We appeal to government to look into this to keep Okowa’s legacy and imprint on this road from being eroded in no distant time.
On this note, I will like to conclude this article by informing my good passenger friend wherever he is now, that the situation in which he saw the road some couple of months ago when he came for a visit has greatly improved. The road is gradually wearing a new look by the grace of Almighty God and courtesy of the progress loving and visionary and able ‘road master’, His Excellency, Senator (Dr.) Ifeanyi .A. Okowa, governor of Delta State. Yes, I can assure you that when next you come visiting that place, you will not believe the transformation.
In essence, I wish to inform you here that ‘Okowa; E Don Reach There Now!’
Gift Jay Ehiedu