The reason I am seriously searching for the Isam Olu Ilu-led ‘massive infrastructure in South East’ is because that’s what I want to use to vote for the party in 2019.
Brothers and Sisters in Crisis, I am searching for the ‘wildly’ acclaimed APC’s ‘massive infrastructure’ in South East. The APC’s spokesman, Lanre Issa-Onilu (Isam Olu Ilu? – Bitter Periwinkle?), said so while reacting to the reported endorsement of Atiku-Obi ticket by the Prof. Ben Nwabueze-led Igbo group. “It will be interesting to know what the PDP will be telling the Igbo people during the campaign,” he said in the press statement carrying the party’s position. Under the APC-led government, he added, “the South East people have (had) three and half years of visible progress in terms of massive infrastructure…”
I have been to South East and searched from Onitsha to Oko and Awka, from Owerri to Okigwe, Mbaise and Orlu, from Abakaliki to Ikwo, from Enugu to Nsukka, from Umuahia to Ukwa, I am yet to see this ‘massive infrastructure’. You all know that I am bland (blind?). I no dey see infrastructure, muchless ‘Mars-sieved’ ones! I believe that this is because of the massive sun rays coming from Mars. Abeg those of you who are long or far-sighted, make una help me search o. After all, they say in Igbo, what two have seen and are sure, there is no need arguing about it.
The reason I am seriously searching for the Isam Olu Ilu-led ‘massive infrastructure in South East’ is because that’s what I want to use to vote for the party in 2019. I only pray and hope that the ‘massive infrastructure’ which he talked about will be able to enter the ballot box. In that case, I urge the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, to provide us with a massive ballot box so that we can vote massively in appreciation of the ‘massive infrastructure’ that APC graciously and generously gave us, South Easterners, in the past “three and half years.”
Brothers and Sisters in Crisis, when I searched and searched and didn’t see anything, I asked for the help of my brother, Emmanuel Onwubiko, Head, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), a name which sounds like I hula uwa? (Ever seen this (kind of) world?). But he too confessed that he didn’t see the Isam Olu Ilu’s much-touted ‘massive infrastructure’. Instead, he only saw “systematic neglect of federal roads,’ yes, in South East! I am not making this up, people. Ask him. He travelled through the Southeastern states, recently, during a private visit to his country home. “It is no longer news that the entire … South East suffers from serious infrastructure deficits,” he wrote in an opinion article published in the Daily Sun last week.
And, in case you are not minded to do so, that is, to ask him because, as you know, in these days of political campaigns, you never can tell which side one belongs – whether APC or PDP, Buhari (Buharia, ‘change it or move the thing around/about’, in Igbo) or Atiku (Ati ku! ‘we are all dead’, in Yoruba), you could as well ask Baba himself, I mean our Presido. His observation agrees with that of Onwubiko (a name which as you must have learnt from your reading of Ekwefi’s travails in Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, means ‘Death, I implore you’, ‘I beg you’!). Which is one prayer you should not cease to pray if you are a Nigerian traveling through any of the Federal roads in South East.
When I say that Baba’s view agrees with Onwubiko’s on the serious infrastructure deficits in South East, what do I mean by that? Let The Guardian and Vanguard newspaper reports of November 14, 2017 tell us. Buhari says South-East’s infrastructural deficit would be addressed announced one of The Guardian headlines of that day. Infrastructure deficit in South East Worries Buhari, read Vanguard’s. So? The question I want to ask is: between Buhari, Onwubiko and Isam Olu Ilu? who is telling the truth?
For a clearer picture of what the infrastructure deficit is all about, Onwubiko reports that, “the long stretch of Federal Highway linking Enugu, Ebonyi, Abia and Okigwe in Imo State has virtually collapsed. The expansive two lanes of the usually boisterous and very busy road has become a shadow of itself following the total collapse of one of the lanes. I observed regrettably that all the vehicular movements flowing in from all parts of Nigeria heading towards Abia from Enugu, Imo, Ebonyi and Rivers states are now forced to rely on the only lane that has yet to collapse totally.
“To understand the enormity of the rot and consequential dysfunctionality, a traveller only needs to get to Lokpanta in Abia State whereby the northern population of cow sellers live to witness the epochal decay of the road infrastructure…. Lokpanta along the Enugu/Okigwe Federal Highway is not only an eyesore but is an epidemic waiting to implode… As if the decay you noticed about strategic national road infrastructure in the South East is not limited to the Enugu-Okigwe highway, the moment you veer off the highway from Okigwe and you drive towards Owerri, what confronts your sight is perhaps the most criminally neglected national road infrastructure of all times. I have never seen such criminality on the part of government targeting the ordinary populace who are deliberately subjected to traumatic experiences just to commute through that Okigwe to Owerri highway.”
Let nobody try (dare?) me o. This is because if I use the vex wey dey my heart come siddon for inside one of the potholes, craters or is, it manholes? that have come to characterize most of the federal roads in South Eastern states, in recent years (including the Isam Olu Ilu’s said three-and-half years) and curse people collecting the money meant for the roads and putting them into the Single Treasury Account, my curse (cause?) fit reach Aso Rock o. I swear! Make nobody talk, say I no tell am o. In fact, all that I need to do is stay inside one of the man-size potholes (manholes?) and do some incantations and everybody telling lies, flies or bedbugs in Abuja, about APC-led government’s so-called ‘massive infrastructure in South East’ will begin to fall ‘sic’ (sick?), worm by worm (one-by-one?).
So? In light of these facts, Brothers and Sisters in Crisis, what is my conclusion? I want to believe that what Isam Olu Ilu? meant to say is Mars-sieved, not ‘massive’ infrastructures. Who knows, the typist or secretary who typed the press statement probably made a mistake! Or, what do you think?