Any right-thinking Aro person you meet and ask to mention two major infrastructural challenges Arochukwu has been facing for several years, will not hesitate to answer you: (1) Roads to come into Arochukwu and (2) Roads within and out of Arochukwu. He may also say: “Give Arochukwu good roads and the town will develop faster”.
Arochukwu is a prominent historic town in Igbo land. It was given an urban town status in 1976 by Rear Admiral Ndubisi Kanu (Rtd), the first military administrator of Imo state. And when Abia state was created on 27th day of August 1991, Arochukwu retained its urban status. Unfortunately, Arochukwu has since remained the only urban town in Abia that does not have any of its internal roads constructed or reconstructed by the state government. Aba and Umuahia, the other urban towns in Abia, have had their internal roads reconstructed and new ones constructed by the state government. Nzuko Aro past leaderships had continuously mounted pressures and applied various lobbying strategies on the past governors of Abia state with a view to getting them to reconstruct the dilapidated Arochukwu roads, both internal and external roads, without success.
The present leadership of Nzuko Aro led by George Ezumah has continued with the lobby/pressure game, still with no reasonable success. A lot of Umu Aro and their friends even those from other states have also done much to create public awareness on the pitiable Arochukwu roads, using various news channels and social media, to the extent that the issue has become public embarrassment to both the state and the federal governments. All in the efforts to exert more pressures on the governments, drawing their attention to the plight of Arochukwu town and people as far as having good roads network is concerned. Yet nothing much has been done by the state government in particular, except the recent half-completion of the old bridge along Arochukwu, Ndi Okereke, Ozu Abam road. That bridge and the entire road were recently been politically publicized as having been completed; while in essence the bridge was half-completed because it was tactfully reduced to half of its original size probably to cheat Arochukwu people or to make more money from the project, or both, for some political reasons.
The best way to confirm this is to go there and have a look at each side of the bridge while on it or passing through it. That road itself has actually become a source of cash flow for several years to some select Abia politicians. The PDP government has turned it into political campaigns, to the detriment of the people, the real users of the road. That road of about 27km has actually remained uncompleted as we write this piece. Many people have cried aloud about the government lack of interest in completing that road after so many years and many times of the road sign board-flagging off ceremonies; yet nothing has changed at all. And there is nothing on ground to assure us that that same road from Arochukwu to Ozu Abam will even be completed this 2018. They had promised us many times in the recent past that the road would be completed within some given times. And in all the times, they kept failing us. However, there is hope. No condition will ever remain permanent in life. God will surely do new great things for His people, and not too far from now! Be hopeful.
Now it is so no longer news that Arochukwu has remained an urban town without good urban roads and other befitting infrastructures to justify its urban status. Consequently, some Aro leaders have now resorted to appealing to our own people at home and in the Diaspora, with strong connections, whether in or not in government, for interventional help on Arochukwu roads. Akwa Ibom state is already working hard to complete the Nkana-Arochukwu road. Hopefully before September 2018, it may be completed. Nzuko Aro had also asked few of us to appeal to Dr Alex Otti (Omenauko Aro Okeigbo) to approach his friends at NDDC for help on Aro internal roads. And so, in August 2017, I personally discussed this issue with Dr Alex Otti. He assured me he would do something about it for Ndi Aro.
By October 2017, he confirmed to me that assurances have been received. And so, in the first week of January, 2018, I received a phone call from a Port Harcourt based contractors urging me to stay back for awhile at Arochukwu to show them those Arochukwu internal roads we would want NDDC to handle for Arochukwu people. I was also told the maximum distance they could cover. Few days later, one Mr Aderemi with few other men drove straight from Port Harcourt to my country home at Asaga, Arochukwu. I invited Nzuko Aro 2nd Vice President General, Mr Nwosu Nwaka to come and join me as I took the men around to show them the chosen roads which details I had earlier given to them. The roads included: (1). Amaikpe market square to the Avia Ovuru road, curving out to Ibom; (2). Avia Ovuru through Obinkita new layout road to Ugwuavor new layout, bursting out at Amangwu village square; (3) Isimkpu/Amangba junction to Amangwu village with a spur from Amankwu Amangwu through Ndi-Ivi to Asaga village square; (4) Aro Civic Center road commencing at Oror to Amoba village square; and (5) from Amoba village through Jubilee road Obinkita to the main road. The project includes some drainage and culvers where needed and with good stone base for possible good asphalt works. I hope all will be attended to.
For me, all these may be regarded as the first phase of what may come to Arochukwu later. We urge all whose inter village roads were not included in this first phase to exercise some patience. By the same grace of God, it will get to all. And to the people the present reconstruction works pass through their areas, kindly co-operate with the contractors to facilitate the works. It is important to mention here that these selected roads were not chosen out of the blues. They were picked from the list of some selected Arochukwu roads which Nzuko Aro during my tenure as its PG had compiled and submitted to the two former governors of Abia state, Orji Uzoh Kalu and T. A. Orji. Despite all our appeals and lobbying to each of them, none of them did anything on the roads. The list of the roads was published in April 2010, in my administration Handover book, titled: “NZUKO ARO LEADERSHIP, An ACCOUNT of my STEWARDSHIP (2003 – 2009)” on pages 82 to 84. Some of the Aro internal roads we included in that list were: Amanagwu, Ujari road to Amasu port, with a spur at Ujari through old Ncheghe road to Ibom village square; Isinkpu to Atani, curving to Amukwa, Ugbo to Amankwu; From the new market to Utughaugwu and to Ugwuakuma; Amuvi to Uburu Ihe road; Ugwuavor Anlgican Church road; Abonkwu Asaga to Amangwu road; Amuvi to Atani old road; DFRI road at Asaga bursting at Ajirija near Amuvi; Asaga to Atani new layout, amongst some others. I believe some of these roads will be handled by NDDC and some other government agencies like FERMA at any future available opportunity.
It is still very possible that Dr Alex Otti and may be with some other kindhearted umu-Aro, with the right connections, can still be of great help to again attract government genuine attention to do most of these roads. FERMA will most likely handle Utughaugwu road with some few other roads very soon. So let’s keep praying, keep lobbying and exerting some pressures where necessary until we get most of the Arochukwu roads, both internal and external fixed. With God on our side all things are possible. NDDC solar lights are already shining along some parts of Arochukwu main road. Hopefully the NDDC solar light project may also be extended to other parts of Arochukwu soonest.
I recall that during one of our meetings with ex Governor Orji Uzoh Kalu, at Umuahia, he confessed to us (Nzuko Aro) that he never knew that Arochukwu was given an urban town status until we told him so. I personally considered that a serious joke. As part of his usual deceptive political campaign strategies, he hurriedly awarded reconstruction of Ugwuavor ring road and Amaikpe new Market road to a puppet contractor, on the twilight of his regime in January 2007 or thereabout. But immediately he, Orji Uzor, got his stooge, T. A. Orji elected as governor of Abia state to take-over from him effective May 2017, they abandoned the projects, leaving the two roads in worse condition than they had met them. On our (Nzuko Aro) visit to Governor T. A. Orji to ask him why the roads were abandoned, he claimed that the roads were duly awarded to an unnamed Lebanese firm who later abandoned the works because the state lacked the funds to pay the firm the contract sum. It was a big a shame. It is still shameful and sad too that even till date our state government still fails to keep its promises to the people of Arochukwu.
Even governor Okezie Ikpeazu has never mentioned Arochukwu urban roads in any of his annual budgets or state planned projects. Some “Aro chartered politicians” who are said to be very good friends to the two ex governors (Orji Uzoh Kalu and T. A. Orji) and also to Governor Ikpeazu, could not get any of them to help rebuild Aro roads with our Abia state funds. Just recently, Dr Emma Nwadeyi, an nwa Aro, resident in the USA, did some good earth works on some part of Ugwuavor road in December 2017. He spent his personal fund to maintain a public road. For such good community selfless work, Aro News appreciated him with an Outstanding Community Service Award. Dr Alex Otti and Victor Ikechukwu Okoronkwo were similarly honored for different excellent selfless community services to Arochukwu kingdom, (Alex Otti for championing completion of Aro Civic Center within a year, and Victor for furnishing Eze Aro’s palace and home amongst others).
And here again, Dr Alex Otti, OFR, who is not even in any government yet, has attracted the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) for the construction of some urban roads in Arochukwu. He also performed the same feat for some communities in Isiala Ngwa. He did all these without any noise making, and within a very short time. The future is surely brighter. Let us keep praying for the success of Dr Alex Otti, come 2019. Just be ready with your PVC. Don’t be deceived with any Greek-gifts. Our destiny is in our hands. Arochukwu will surely regain its lost glory. History, Development, Business, Peace and Fame will smile in favour of Arochukwu very soon again. All the roads leading to and within Arochukwu are already gradually opening up to the glory of God. Thank you NDDC for the great works you have started doing in Arochukwu. What our state has failed to do for us for many years, you are now doing them for us. Please stay here much longer with us to salvage more of our roads, and to lighten up our town the more!