By Prince Ejeh Josh
As writers and public affairs analysts, we believe that we have some moral burden placed on us to speak out when political leaders are doing well and when they are doing badly. It’s a burden hanging on our necks that we carry as a cross wherever we go.
For history to be kind to us, we must write. We must be ruthless with the truth. We must say it the way it is no matter whose ox is gored. We’re called by nature to play by the rules. So, we must always confront developing events even if we don’t feel at home with those we are writing about.
To be sincere, I’ve never been Engineer Uchenna Abel Nwobodo’s man. I’ve never been his fan. For obvious reasons, my meeting with him has always been cold. I’m an Nkanu man, and that is not in doubt. He is the Executive Chairman of Nkanu-East local government area which happens to be my local government. However, for the sensitive nature of my official assignments, I prefer to play from the subtle bend.
I’ve known the local government Chairman for quite some years, but it has, as well, always been a distance relationship. I knew him while he was on appointment as a Special Adviser to the Governor on Projects Development and Implementations (PDI). I felt, all the while he was in the same work environment with me, I should carry out my assignments as a professional. Sentiments apart. This is why I found it hard to write about him, or to assess his government.
I’ve read much from different quarters on their perceptions of the administration of Engineer Uchenna since he assumed office as the Chairman of Nkanu East Council. I was reluctant to add my voice. But the pang of guilt was always knocking each time I looked away.
Regardless of the above, I’m virtually compelled by conscience to lend my voice to the assessments of this newly berthed administration. I would refer to the past to underscore the present and make some “rough” political prediction about his administration.
While Uchenna was working as a Special Adviser on PDI, I was privy to watch keenly, events dashing out of his office. Needless say how impressive some of the projects and structures he was able to implement were. He did not just implement those projects to the taste and satisfaction of people, he was timeous in the execution of those projects. It was usually a matter of months for an edifice to be erected and furnished.
Parts of the fascinating projects were the Protocol Unit housing the protocol staff of the Governor and his Deputy. Before then, the Protocol department was an eyesore for passers-by. The abode was not only in a bad shape, it was bereft of human dignity. The timely reconstruction of the Unit and its standard were a feeler that Uchenna had come on board to set a standard, perhaps which may be difficult to break.
He subsequently turned to the Public Enlightenment Unit of the Governor and gave it a befitting construction and the outlooks it deserves. We were all amazed at the excellent job on ground. How he was able to manage his time is what we couldn’t explain. All we knew was that each time he embarked on a project, he delivers it at the right time. We’ve seen others tried it before and failed. We’ve also seen what happened after him. We could easily make a striking comparison on the competency of everyone that has occupied the position based on facts on ground.
Years after most of the projects Uchenna executed, they still remain as if they were newly constructed. That’s the standard and quality of materials he had chosen to work with. Durability. Structural designs that could weather any storms for decades and outlast their purposes. That is the kind of quality many are seeking out today. How to get value for their money. We’ve seen it in Engineer Uchenna as he goes about diligently carrying out his duties. Truly I am not surprised that those projects today speak volumes for him. They are even vouching for him at his back.
I would not forget to add that while there as a Transition Chairman, I did witness his massive road rehabilitation. The road leading to my village was always in a bad shape. It discourages some of us from traveling down to the village most times . Though, a federal road, I was amazed to learn that the transition Chairman took it upon himself to grade the road and made it possible for motorists to ply with ease. He also did this to so many feeder roads within the local government area. My tour round the local government area revealed that no community is left out in projects execution. His development tentacles were even spread to areas that were long abandoned by previous administrations.
After his recent election as the Executive Chairman, I decided to keep a close watch over his government. It was a stealth observation. Events unfolding since then have shown a man who not only came to work but who was all out to prove a point that Nkanu-East could have another narration.
First, he started by involving every stakeholder and by making sure that everyone has a say in his government. This is politics without bitterness. It’s a gentleman politics characterized by integrity and trust. Nobody was left behind. I think this would foster unity of purpose for the development and progress of our people, and immediately erase the usual politics of rivalry and smear campaigns often laced between the north and south divide in the local government. The mended fences should be permanent.
Second, the Chairman embarked on massive infrastructural developments across the council area just within 100 days in office. While many were giving excuses of paucity of funds, Uche was busy laying some landmark foundations. Feeder roads were being graded, bridges such as the notorious Ojorowo bridge has been tamed by the satisfactory work there. The timely rescue operation of the Amechi-Idodo people sent me weeping for joy. At last, hope is restored for the people. At last, they were remembered for good. At last, a new lease of life for farmers and traders to move their farm produce and wares to the markets. I hope these projects continue this way.
Third, It is said that empowerment of the youth is a most deliberate trigger of development and self-independence. The local government is blessed with fertile soil. Now, there’s a call for agricultural revolution through the readily incentives made available for the people. It’s a golden opportunity for our people to showcase their agricultural dexterity.
Fourth, according Anthony Nwachukwu, a renowned scholar and international commentator, the foundational level for every thriving society is human capital deployment. It’s a catalyst of a new phase. From the records within my reach, the local government Chairman has extended this reach beyond expectations. He believes in investing on the people. Didn’t an Igbo adage have it that when you’re building a man, you’re building a nation. Uche is not only building men in his administration, he is also building a kind of gender equality that will balance the economic and socio-political equations. Many forgotten souls either deliberately or inadvertently treated with reckless abandon have found their foots back. To the Chairman, those that made sacrifices for the growth of the local government must not be treated with neglect.
Fifth, today our health system is gradually being revamped. The people can now reach out to medical personnel without the hitherto strenuous route of making it to the metropolis before treatment. The amelioration of the hardships occassioned by the COVID-19 lockdown which nearly crippled the economy is an applause to the administration under review. Much has, indeed, been done within a few months.
Should the Chairman continue this way, I’m seeing his landmarks achievements sending him to the National Assembly by 2023. Interestingly, if the pace is sustained, Uche’s walk to the Green Chamber as our representative will be a walkover. His works could have put him at a vantage point against any contestant.
For now, with the way things are going, one would agree that the chairman is winning the hearts of his constituents through his laudable projects. It’s just a matter of time before the coast will become clearer for this great achiever to sail without hitch.