By Godwin Adindu
Have you watched two boxers throwing punches? Or two able-bodied men locked in a fight of punches? Have you watched a fallen fighter jump up from the ground and charge at his opponent with a counterpunch, delivered with electrifying energy and ferocity? You would have seen noses dripping with blood and eyes swollen like balls. This is the imagery Governor Okezie Ikpeazu is painting with his allusion to counterpunches of projects in his description of the newly commissioned Osusu Road, a great landmark and signature project in Aba.
“We will continue to deliver project punches that will ultimately knock out the political jobbers wishing to distract us,” he said in a tweet.
But, why would a poor fighter, a poor boxer and a poor puncher draw imageries or make reference to actions he could not have executed? Why would Governor Ikpeazu go outside of his area of competence to draw inspiration? Governor Ikpeazu never fought with his fists. He was never known for bravery and could not stand the sight of blood. But he was and remains a great and crafty fighter. He fought with his brain and he won all his battles. For instance, as a teenager, he had the priviledge of always owning a football, courtesy of the love of his father, Noono. When he brought the ball to the field and some stronger boys tried to dominate the game or bully him for any reason, he would simply grab his ball and beckon on his kid brother, Ifeanyi: “Let’s go!” And off he disappeared with the ball and his kid brother. Stranded and without a ball with which to continue the game, the players would march to their house to beg for the ball to be returned.
At college, in Ihie High School, Governor Ikpeazu outwitted his peers with his brain punches. The story of his escapades is legendary and his mates narrate it with so much laughter and respect for him. When many students fought over stealing of their garri (oto), Ikpeazu would simply hide his own garri at the bottom of a container and create another upper layer which he covered with sand. When the garri thieves came and opened the container, they saw only sand and they disappeared. Ikpeazu never lost a pinch of his garri to a thief, never fought with anybody in the dormitory over garri or anything else. He had a way over every situation.
Today, as governor, Ikpeazu is continuing with his brain punches and he has won all his battles without losing a bullet. He has again deployed his brain punches to stamp his feet at Osusu and destabilize political jobbers. To him, he is giving counterpunches to political propagandists by launching arsenals of jinx-breaking projects as a counterattack. He has displayed excellent tactical maneuvering skills in the way he has conquered Osusu Road, Ukwu Mango, Ama Nmuo axis, Osisioma Flyover, Faulks Road and the rest. These projects are counterpunches aimed at destabilizing political enemy propagandists. He is not done yet. “Let our projects be the counterpunch to their political noise,” he affirmed.
Indeed, Osusu Road and many other roads in Aba constituted the theme and refrain of the Aba song of decay, a lamentation expressed in songs and ballads; a meltdown that forced some Aba-based lawyers to march on the streets with their wigs and rainboots into the ponds and lakes, which the abandoned roads had become. It was the ugly situation that caused a folk musician to compose a song: Aba is stinking. It was the anger of the Aba people to which they revolted in 2015 by rejecting the PDP in preference for APGA, which came with promises of hope and renewal.
But, Ikpeazu’s mission in power is to cleanse the Augean Stable. He is the Street Sweeper of Aba, a destiny that was tied when he took up the mantle to evacuate the stinking dunghills of Aba, which gave the city a name in the hall of infamy and notoriety. A day after he was sworn in as governor in 2015, he launched the construction of seven roads and he has continued in that drive and spirit.
The new Osusu Road in Eziukwu Aba had been impassable for over 20 years. It stood in the same legion with roads like Ehere Road, Umuola, Ukaegbu Road in Orgbor Hill area of Aba. Added to this legion is the perennial Ukwu Mango Flood. Today, Governor Ikpeazu has conquered these roads with his counterpunches.
But it does appear he is aiming at a sucker punch. His tanks are marching to Ngwa Road, Omuma, Obohia, Ndiegoro axis of Aba and Port Harcourt. By the time, he is done with these roads, he would have given a master stroke, the sucker punch, the deadly cut that will bring opponents to their knees: “Our people should expect more value for their unflinching support and, with God on our side, we will continue to deliver project punches.”
Last weekend, I took time to walk on Osusu Road through the Faulks Road axis, through Eziukwu to the rail line, a complete rigid, pavement technology, and I felt the staggering dizziness of pleasure. This is, perhaps, what Ikpeazu means by counterpunches, punches that throw you off balance, without drips of blood.