The challenge before Senator Mao

Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, PhD

The countdown to emergence of good road networks to and from Aro appears to be in sight. And this is a prediction that can be taken to the bank as collateral. Amaikpe is certain that the 2015 Christmas may be the very last that Aros would return home in pains and anguish as has been the experience over the last thirty years. At the very minimum in 2016, commuters to Aro will do so with high hopes, expectations and optimism. And there are several signals that this prediction will come to pass. The signals are divine, strategic, policy driven and action oriented. From the divine stand point, there is no bad situation that lasts forever. Every situation that has a beginning must have an end.

The condition of Arochukwu – Ohafia road cannot in history be worse than it was in 2015. The situation reached its minimum level during the year. It can only be better from now. The story of the road this year in particular dominated the national and social media. Some of the stories were told more by visitors and strangers who had reasons to visit Aro. Many of them had little or no knowledge of the condition of our road before embarking on the journey.

The Chairman, Editorial Board of This Day Newspapers, Olusegun Adeniyi was among the victims. Segun who is also a popular columnist narrated his experience to the entire country on the pages of his newspaper. His ugly experiences on the road generated shame to Aros, sympathy and condemnation across the country. Segun’s intervention also attracted awareness but no immediate action. Before Segun, there was Okey Ikechukwu, a member of This Day Editorial Board too, who visited Aro for unknown reasons. Ikechukwu equally shared his ugly experience on the same road with a piece “The Road to Arochukwu”.

However, while these two media personalities had a platform to tell their story, many other high profile visitors who were also victims had no such opportunity. Many of them buried their varied experiences in shock and disbelief that a prominent town like Aro lives on the edge of collapse of social infrastructure especially access road. Many of our visitors rightly accused the Aro elites of complicity and conspiracy of silence. Many strongly say it openly that Aro has more than enough personalities with the required wealth and influence to fix the road.

Amaikpe largely agrees with this view. Aro elites indeed failed the community on the road issue. We are all guilty. All Aro elites in business, politics and public service must take responsibility and share bountifully on the shame. We sat, watched and did very little or nothing on the road issue over these years. If ever we claim to have done something, where is the proof, the evidence? The condition of our road does not support any such claims.

Communities with lesser human and material resources have fared better in all areas of development than Aro. 2015, was a year that many Aros declined to visit home because of bad road. The few that managed to visit paid the huge price in many areas of frustration. Business activities and the Aro informal economy suffered greatly for poor patronage, interface with the rest of the state and the country. In 2015, we reached the lowest point on Aro –Ohafia road. It is therefore divine to expect some mighty and almighty interventions. It is also natural to hope, think that the only way forward is to get better.

In the midst of the expectations, all eyes are now on Senator Mao Ohuabunwa to fix the road. History will be kind to him if he rises up to this challenge. For Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, there is no hiding place. It is one challenge that he has no option, no excuse than to accept. For one thing, he too has nowhere else to call home than Aro.

Besides, this was one major campaign issue for which all kinds of blames both real and imagined was put at his door -step. Every effort made by the politician to offer explanation on the Aro road attracted little or zero interest. For every Aro man, it is Mao’s duty to fix the road. While the merits and demerits of that assumption is not part of this conversation for now, Amaikpe can only encourage the Senator to realize that citizen’s expectation is the first burden of public office.

The same citizens would turn a politician into a martyr if their expectations are met at record time. Amaikpe is fully aware, that Senator Mao has no other job at the National Assembly except Arochukwu roads than other development challenges in Abia North. But, for us charity must begin from home. In a recent long discussion with the Senator, his emotional attachment for work to commence with a competent contractor on the road was more than strong. What he needs now is support and solidarity from all Aros.

Senator Mao has a date with history; the day Aro road would be reconstructed. It is pleasing that he has taken up the challenge fully. For instance, in the constitution of Senate Committees, Senator Mao planned and carefully infused himself into the two most important committees required to deal with the Arochukwu – Ohafia road problem. He is a member of the Senate Committee on Works and also member of the Senate Committee on Appropriation. While the works committee provides strong monitoring and oversight to ensure that the job is executed, the appropriation committee makes sure that enough funds are provided in the national budget to get the job done. In the past, budgetary provisions for the road through appropriation by the National Assembly and effective supervision, monitoring and oversight have remained the two problems of the road. Mao’s membership of these two grades ‘A’ committees coming from opposition political party cannot be easy if not for his vast experience as a ranking legislator. Amaikpe congratulates him and looks forward on how this position would be effectively used to liberate Aro from bad road. Already the signs that this would happen are manifest.

A high powered parliamentary delegation had visited at his instance to inspect the road. The pronouncements of the leader of that delegation, Senator Barnabas Gemade shortly after inspecting the road equally inspires hope and optimism. We are waiting to see the difference in 2016. On his part, the member representing Arochukwu – Ohafia Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. Uko Nkole has also shown the same passion. One of his first assignments was to initiate a national media tour of the road. His followed this up with a motion at the floor of the House of Representatives for urgent attention on the road. As a former staff of the development control, a powerful arm of the Abuja, Federal Capital Territory Administration, Hon. Nkole is at home with the bureaucracy in the Federal Ministry of Works also in Abuja. Amaikpe is aware of his series of meetings and interface with the Ministry on Aro road. We expect that he will also channel the same effort to ensure that enough funds are provided in the budget for the road from House of Representatives.

Beyond, the time for coordinated community support and solidarity in favour of all elected and appointed Aros at all levels of government to fix our roads have come. Senator Mao and others need all the information and support. The culture of sitting on the fence and complain over everything that has gone wrong is not only lazy but unproductive. Those who choose that option are enemies of our community because their only contribution is mischief, rumour and distraction. Every Aro man has a responsibility. Everyone has a duty. If you do not have any, please create one.

Merry Christmas and a happy new year.

About author

Orji Ogbonnaya Orji

Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, a well-known Nigerian broadcaster, journalist, political economist and development communication specialist sits on the Editorial Board of Aro News, a leading community news channel of the Aros, south east Nigeria. Orji writes its popular column “Amaikpe”.  
He is currently the Director of Communications and Advocacy at the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), the Presidency, Abuja. NEITI is the Nigerian chapter of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), an international organization with 53 member countries which leads the global campaign for transparency and accountability in the management of extractive resources in resource-rich countries around the world. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji was named NEITI's acting Executive Secretary/ceo in 2015, a position he held briefly until 2016.  
Dr. Orji represents NEITI on Nigeria’s National Steering Committee of the global Open Government Partnership (OGP) and chairs the extractive sector thematic group in the country’s OGP.  
Prior to his current job at NEITI, Dr. Orji was a special adviser to Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Communication on Strategic Development Communication. Between 2004 and 2006, he worked with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) as a national consultant on public procurement reforms. At the UNDP, he worked with other development partners such as the World Bank and USAID on institutionalizing public procurement processes in Nigeria, by articulating a bill on public procurement for consideration and passage into law by the National Assembly. Following the passage of the Bill into law and establishment of the Bureau of Public Procurement on the June 4, 2007, Orji headed the media and public affairs department of the Bureau.
He served as Special Adviser to the President of the Senate at the National Assembly from 2000 to 2003. During this period, he provided technical support to develop the institutional framework on strategic media/civil society relations and engagements with the country’s legislature emerging from years of military rule.
His career in the media industry began at Radio Nigeria where he was groomed and worked in various capacities, rising through the ranks to the position of Deputy Director at the headquarters. The highest point of his career at Radio Nigeria was his posting to the Presidential Villa, Aso Rock (Nigeria’s seat of power) as the Chief State-House Correspondent, attached to Nigeria’s presidents. Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji served with courage and distinction during five different regimes, part of which were under the military from 1993 to 2000, when Nigeria returned to civil rule. The job at the Presidential villa took Orji on regular entourages of Nigerian Presidents to many countries of the world for the media-coverage of key global events, including several sessions of the United Nations' General Assembly in New York.
Orji Ogbonnaya Orji began his early life and education in 1970 at the Presbyterian School, Amanator Isu, Ohaozara in the then Afikpo Division. He attended Ishiagu High School Okigwe for his secondary education from 1975 and obtained his West African School Certificate from the school in 1980. He later proceeded to the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT) Enugu where he graduated with a certificate in Mass communication in 1987. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Abuja, Nigeria in 1999, a master’s degree in political economy and development studies in 2004 and a PhD in the same discipline and from the same University in 2012.
He attended the Senior Executive Fellows program on public policy and communication at J.F Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. He is also an alumnus of Blatvanik School of Government, University of Oxford, England, Thompson Foundation Institute of Advanced Media Studies Cardiff, United Kingdom, the International Law Institute, George Town University Washington DC, the Institute for Public and Private Partnership, Arlington Virginia, the World Bank Institute, the African Development Bank Institute, and the Lagos Business School. Furthermore, he is a recipient of professional fellowships from the US State Department and from the governments of Germany and the United Kingdom.
Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji is married to Dr. (Mrs.) Esther Ogbonnaya with three children: Nnenna, Orji (Jr), and Chinatu.

1 comment

  1. Rev. Ijoma Anicho ACA 7 August, 2017 at 13:37 Reply

    Sen Mao is equal to the task. I sincerely commend the Executive team of the current Nzuko Aro for their committment on the repairs. We should all explore all opportunities to achieve the repairs of this road.

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