The fate of Chief Martin Elechi,former governor of Ebonyi State is that of one that sowed in season, gotsomeone to be a beneficiary of his sweat only for him to become a victim ofvicious politics.
Or how else would you explain the fact that out of vindictiveness, his successor and one that was with him to execute a project as vital to the state as the Oferekpe Water Works is the same to abandon it because it is Elechi’s legacy.
Because of this form of politics, the city of Abakaliki with a population of 1.2m hasn’t had water in the homes in the past 18 months.
Apart from this project, a lot or almost all landmark projects of Elechi’s government have become subjects of negative politicking that have left them messed up, irrespective of the pains of such action to the state.
His achievements for the state are gradually and systematically wiped out of existence.
Another sign of the vindictive politics is the Abakaliki International Market that cost the state several billions to put in place and has been renamed after Governor David Umahi’s mother. Meanwhile, even the new city development named Ochudo City after Elechi has been renamed by the present administration as the Centenary City.
When not done with this damage spree, in October, Umahi mobilized bulldozers to pull down buildings at the market with an excuse that the buildings were death traps and should be demolished.
Even the Rice City International Hotel started by the Elechi administration has been abandoned and the money so far spent on the project now a waste while all government guests and activities are directed to the Osborne La Palm Hotel personally owned by Umahi.
While you may sigh to hear all these, the one that would break your heart is the abandonment of the Oferekpe Water Project that touches on the fundamental of the people’s living. The plant was built at a cost of N18bn with an intention of solving the water crisis of Abakaliki and nearby cities. The capacity of the plant is 100,000 cubic meters of water per day and more than enough to make the water issue that had made the Abakaliki axis the guinea worm zone a matter for history.
But from the way it goes now, after the 18 months of dry taps in the city and some other seven LGAs, it would not be a surprise if the guinea worm scourge returns since the people of that part of the state have gone back to rely on dug well brown waters from which they contract guinea worm that shortened their life span and made their few days riddled with ailments which retarded their economic well-being.
After its completion in 2014, Elechi left office the following year and that project hasn’t pumped water to any homes in close to two years.
From our investigations, nothing is actually wrong with that plant apart from the refusal by the government of Umahi to provide the basics like water treatment chemicals and diesel to power the machine. Yet, no water supply in sight in Abakaliki and other LGAs served by that water facility.
The major regret according to the residents of the city we spoke with is the lack of any sign of readiness by the Umahi administration to attend to this compelling need so that the people will have water.
To prove our point, we are privy to a document direct from the governor’s office as boldly endorsed by a stamp and written by Gilmor Engineering Ltd on March 24, 2017 informing the government that the tenure of servicing and maintenance of the plant was about to expire on March 31, 2017 and the need to hand over to the state government. The letter was signed by Ralph Cohen, Project Manager. Gilmor Engineering built the water plant.
Sequel to this, the government set up a panel for due diligence on the plant before taking over. The government team made of all engineers was led by ON Igwe and others were; EN Alobu, SN Nkwede, E. Okorie and Peter Mbeke while the Gilmor team included Ralph Cohen, Mr. Joshua, Wale Adewale and Mr. Daniel,
A letter of the government datedMarch 27, 2017 and signed by Igwe the leader of the team ascertained that; ‘All sections were checked. The equipment were found working properly and all ingood condition. They once again explained the working principles of all the equipment. WE WERE ALL SATISFIED WITH WHAT WE SAW.’
But after this satisfactory report, the state government took over and Oferekpe plant handed in excellent condition to it stopped working till date and water dried up in homes in the parts of the state involved.