•Group writes President Buhari, urges him to declare
state of emergency on facilities in the regions
By Cosmas Omegoh
Many in the South East and South-south regions are likely choking with pains and seething with anger. They are surely sorely disturbed by the catastrophic conditions of federal roads in the two regions most of which are rundown; some have been rendered totally impassable, having collapsed.
For the average person plying the roads in that part of the country, the unmistakable feeling is that the authorities have remained indifferent to the condition of the facilities. It is clear to see that successive Federal governments had over the years, abandoned their responsibilities to the people. They simply left the people in quandary to rue their fate in the privacy of their closets.
From Enugu to Cross River, Bayelsa through Delta to Edo states, travelling on the network of roads criss-crossing the regions is sheer nightmare.
With the rains in full flight, what has been left of the roads have been washed away. Palliative measures on some of them have not proved helpful. Materials which state or federal government agencies and even concerned citizens benevolently apply on the roads to alleviate the suffering of the people often are clear sources of anguish. Laterite materials which turn to mud with every drop of the rains trap vehicles at every turn thus compounding the plight of the road users. Most of the roads now feature craters, portholes and gullies in which some unsuspecting motorists plunge to their death.
Miffed by the deplorable state of roads in both the South-east and South-south regions, a group, Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF) recently raised the alarm calling attention to this development, while urging President Muhammadu Buhari, to declare a state of emergency on this critical aspect of the nation’s infrastructure.
In a letter titled “Call for a declaration of national emergency on the state of roads in the South East and South-south and other Igbo-speaking areas of Nigeria,” addressed to President Buhari, a copy of which was made available to Daily Sun, ADF condemned the indifference being shown to the roads in the regions.
The group’s President, Uzodinma Nwala and Secretary, Prof Nathaniel Aniekwu, acknowledged that the Federal government had been facing serious challenges lately but contended that roads in the affected regions needed to be given due priority.
Listing the worse affected roads, the duo averred that it was difficult to understand why such important national assets should be so abandoned, reminding President Buhari that roads were crucial in maintaining regional integration and engendering rapid development.
“We write you with a high sense of respect on a matter of urgent national importance. It is about the state of the roads in the South-East and other Igbo- speaking areas of Nigeria.
“We are not unaware of the critical challenges facing the government at all levels in the country and their zeal to ensure development in all facets of life in Nigeria. However, some problems must take priority and urgency because of their impact on the physical and economic survival of the citizens of this country.
“In further evidence to your zeal towards national development, the Nigerian Senate recently lent its voice to the need for attention on the abysmal state of roads in the South-east and South-south geopolitical zones of Nigeria. While we commend this effort, we urge for firmer, uncompromising and conclusive action to be taken in continuation of the worthy journey along this path, by the declaration of national emergency on the state of roads in the South-east and South-south geopolitical zones of our great country.
“The reasons for this urgent request are not far-fetched. The roads within the South-east and South-south regions are in such unimaginable conditions that they can better be described as death-traps, to put this mildly. This may not be news, but the comprehensive impact that this is having on present economic activity and needless waste of human lives and material resources are vastly understated in the media. These occurrences are potentially disastrous for any investment drive in the region, and by extension, Nigeria, as being one country, what affects one affects others.
“Sincere efforts made by previous Federal administrations to fix these roads in the past, have been clearly documented, and remain common knowledge. In recent times, the Federal government has reached out to states to facilitate the repair of roads within their boundaries, for refund later, on expenditure incurred. This is commendable, though respectfully, it must be stated that this very laudable initiative comes at a time when several states are presently in state of near-bankruptcy and others are struggling to maintain good stead with the electorate by borrowing to meet basic obligations such as payment of workers’ salary. In other words, the huge responsibility this has cast on the states is astronomical, especially those in the aforementioned zones where the roads are in the worst state – a claim that can easily be confirmed through a physical visit or by pictures, as those in the attached.
“Some of the major roads which have provided sustained torture of unspeakable degree to the law-abiding citizens of these zones are: Owerri-Umuahia-Ikot Ekpene Road, Umuahia-Arochukwu-Ikot Ansa-Calabar Road, Enugu-Abakiliki-Calabar Expressway, Ihiala-Umuahia Road, Onitsha-Atani-Bayelsa Road, Owerri-Port Harcourt Road, Onitsha-Enugu Expressway, Enugu-Umuahia-Aba Expressway, East-West Road, Benin-Auchi Expressway, Ewu-Onicha Ugbo Road and Agbor-Obiaruku-Sapele Road.
“Several other roads, and we dare say, virtually all the roads in the region, are in catastrophic state.
“Looking closely at the roads listed here, one may be tempted to ask questions such as the coincidence that led to simultaneous neglect of roads that interlink states in the South-east and the South-south. ‘Is it a bad coincidence that roads in these two zones that comprise the old Eastern Region are unrepaired as compared to those in other regions?’ Genuinely concerned people may find it hard to write off as a chance occurrence, and buoyed by conspiracy theorists may prod the polity with questions such as: ‘Is this a deliberate act to create a psychology of isolation?’
“Ancient wisdom advises us against ‘cutting off the nose to spite the face.’ If the eastern part of Nigeria continues to suffer, Nigeria continues to suffer. So it is for other regions. Each region however, has certain peculiar needs of urgent attention, aside from the common problems we all strive to solve. We need good roads in the South-East and the South-South. We know the capacity to achieve this lies well in the arsenals of our country, and that is why we have written to you with utmost confidence that you will respond positively and instantly.
“To buttress on an already known fact, the benefits of a good road network in the South-East and South-South regions are innumerable. From economic integration and inclusiveness, access to various parts of the region, ease of business transactions, accelerated velocity in commercial activities and fast-tracking the emergence of Nigeria as a global economic power house, the list goes on.
“The absence of good roads have instead, been clogs in the wheel of progress, and prevented investment inflow into this very dynamic and innovative area of our beloved country.
“It is important for us to point out one crucial but neglected fact about the human tragedy in the South East and other Igbo-speaking areas of Nigeria. It is the fact that hundreds of thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) of the region who returned home having been displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency in the region are languishing in penury in different parts and homes in the region. Many of them are traders. And with the tragic state of the roads in the region the commercial life of the region on which they depend for survival is destroyed. The plight of these IDPs of the region who receive no help from the Federal government nor from the state government is indeed crying to the high heavens!
“This is one of the major reasons for asking the Federal government to declare a state of emergency on the roads in the region.
Thank you for the attention you have granted, as we assure you that we are very much available to jointly work with you to mobilize for the repair of the roads in the regions.”