Obinna Odogwu, Abakaliki
Unwana, the country home of the former Governor of the defunct Eastern Region, Dr Akanu Ibiam, was agog recently. The excitement came about following a ceremony staged in the community to flag off the reconstruction work on the 1.7km Afikpo-Unwana road.
The road, according to the people of Unwana, was first constructed in 1962 by the late statesman and it ran from Enugu to Unwana community through Abakaliki and Afikpo.
“When the road was constructed originally by the former governor of the old Eastern Region, Dr Akanu Ibiam, it ran from Enugu through Abakaliki through Afikpo through Unwana to the beach. This is because the beach is the commercial nerve centre of Unwana,” narrated Prof. Egwu U. Egwu, a community leader.
Daily Sun gathered that some years later, perhaps due to pressure, the road collapsed, thereby prompting the former Military Head of State, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida to reconstruct it in 1987. Not long after, the road failed again and remained like that till recently.
According to Prof. Egwu, the Afikpo-Unwana road which terminated at a beach which serves as a boundary between them and Cross River State is economically important.
“From the beach, we go to the Calabar in Cross River State for fishing, farming and for everything. So, the road does not just terminate at the roundabout of His Excellency, Dr Akanu Ibiam. This is arterial road in Unwana, very critical to our people,” he said.
Prof. Egwu lamented that even while the late statesman, Akanu Ibiam, was alive, the government ignored the road which was in deplorable state and it remained that way after his demise in 1995.
“Because of a federal polytechnic here, the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) patched some portions from Afikpo up to a point and stopped. But from there to the town, it has been as bad as since nna (Ibiam) was alive. He died in 1995. But the last rehabilitation was in 1987.
But as part of its contribution to honour the late statesman, Ebonyi State Government under Governor David Umahi flagged off for reconstruction the “all-important road.”
The governor, represented by his Senior Special Assistant on Infrastructure Maintenance, Chief Ali Odefa, said the move was in keeping to his promise to the Unwana community.
“Last year, we came here and did your drainage channels of 1.7km. Governor said that after constructing the gutters, he would build the roads. I am happy to announce to you that the money for the construction of this road has been given to me.
“For this reason, we shall not stop the work along the road. Having started the work today, we shall not stop until we get to the roundabout. Once we are done with this one, we shall commence another one that leads to Edda. But it depends on your support,” he said.
He reminded the people that: “What other people cannot do for you in Unwana, Governor David Umahi set out to do it for you. You see, the policy of the governor is not just to do a road but one that will outlive anybody alive here today. This road we are about to construct is a 150mm concrete reinforced pavement; grade 40 mixture of cement, 1: 1/2: 3.
“The road is a 1.7km rigid concrete road with 10.3 metres drain to drain which is six inches rigid concrete. Upon completion, it should have span of 100 years. No one living today shall see it collapse.
“We will plead with the governor to, in his usual magnanimity, add streetlights so that security, commerce and trade will enhance. Nobody has ever done this before but Akubaraoha is doing it.
“If you go down this road, you will see a primary school where we are drilling a borehole to assist in our work. As soon as we are done with this construction work, we will reticulate it so that you can start making use of it. So, from start to finish, it is enjoyment all through for Unwana people,” the governor noted.
Coordinator of Ubeyi Development Centre, Mr Uchenna Ibiam, thanked the governor for honouring his promise to the people of Unwana.
“When Governor Umahi came on board, he told us that he would transform Unwana. Those were his exact words. And today, by the special grace of God, he is transforming Unwana. This one is just the beginning. Before this month runs out, pipe borne water shall be running in ward A and B,” he remarked.
The regent of the community, Princess Alu Ibiam, who is also the daughter of the late Dr. Ibiam, thanked the governor for honouring her father in various fora.
Describing the late Ibiam as a man with golden heart, the former member of the Management Committee, Mr. Ogbonna Inya Aka, described Dr. Ibiam as a humanitarian.
“Dr. Ibiam is a humanitarian that was why he started developing other places like Uburu community in Ohaozara Local Government Area and other places,” he said.