Port-Harcourt Road Aba: Wabara, Ogah, Offor, Others Hail Governor Alex Otti OFR For Engaging Julius Berger ….Warn Critics

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Port-Harcourt road Aba: Wabara, Ogah, Offor, others hail Otti for engaging Julius Berger.

…Warn critics

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Abians from different political divides have unanimously hailed Gov. Alex Otti for his courage to award the reconstruction of the Port Harcourt Road Aba to Julius Berger.

Otti had Thursday, flagged off the reconstruction of the strategic but long-abandoned 6.8 kilometer road after awarding the contract to JB at the tune of N30 billion.

Speaking exclusively with Vanguard, former Senate President and the Chairman Board of Trustees BoT, of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, Senator Adolphus Wabara, described the feat as “historic”

He said that Gov. Otti had already secured his second term mandate by his superlative performances so far.

“The Governor is reliable and a true man of honour. With this feat alone, his second term in office is already well assured. He is a Master Strategist. He wasn’t a top banker for nothing.”

On the criticism by a member of the opposition that the N30 contract sum for the project was on the high side, the former number three citizen in Nigeria, said such critics were uncalled for, and not in tune with the current economic realities as well as the exchange rate.

He said that Otti rather deserved commendation for even being transparent enough to disclose the contract sum unlike what obtained in the past where such information was concealed.

” We are in the era where 1000 dollar now exchanges for N1.5 million. We are not in the era where one dollar was N190 . So, if you convert N30 billion to dollars what do you think will be the equivalent?

“And when you talk of a reputable construction company like JB, you should know money will be involved because they give quality job.

” I even pray that N30 billion will be enough to complete the project in view of the high exchange rate. In fact, we should even commend the administration for coming up with the contract sum.

” Not every Governor or administration will be transparent enough to disclose the contract sum. I think the Governor should be applauded for even getting the project at N30 billion.

” What matters is that we have gotten someone who will give us what we want on that road, and not those who will charge N25 billion, and in the next five years, we spend another N50 billion on the same road.”

Senator Wabara cautioned against unnecessary criticism, advising that the opposition should be constructive in its criticisms.

” They should just allow the sleeping dogs. We are currently in the opposition in the state. We should not criticise for the sake of criticism. We should criticise constructively.

” We should give honour to whom honour is due so that by the time we start lashing out at the administration, they will know we are being very objective and not just criticising out of envy.”

Similarly, former governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Dr Uchechukwu Ogah, also commended Gov. Otti for awarding the road project which he described as a signature project.

The former Minister of States for Solid Minerals and Steel Development, said that ” Dr Otti is already doing some of the things” himself would have done if elected Governor.

Ogah declared his total and unalloyed support for Otti, said he has no regrets supporting him during the polls.

” I have no regrets in supporting Dr Alex Otti because what he is doing is the same thing I would have done if I were elected the Governor.

” Remember I promised Aba people that seven days after my swearing in as Governor, I will bring Julius Berger to Aba to fix that Road, and Dr Otti has just done that.

” We know that JB is one of the best construction firms in the country, and they will do a quality job there. I’m in support of what he has done and I’m proud of him and will continue to give him support because this is what we have been waiting for for 24 years.”

The APC governorship candidate who said he had similar manifesto with Otti, expressed delight that Abia had at last, become a preferred destination for investors.

” Investors are now coming in. Every day, every week he is doing something new for Abia people. Otti is somebody with capacity, and he can deliver on his mandate.

” You can see we had a similar blueprint when we were all contesting for governorship. He is doing great and I am supporting him, and will continue to support him.”

On the alleged exorbitant cost of the project by the opposition, the former Minister accused the immediate past administration of playing to the gallery and seeking relevance.

He challenged the past administration to disclose the cost of any key project it executed, and warned some hired agents of the past administration against distracting the Governor.

” What did PDP do with all the billions of Naira it collected while in power? PDP received over N300 billion while it held sway in the state. So, what was its achievements with all the monies?

” We are not taking of cost now; we want action. In 2016 dollar was exchanging for N154 but today one dollar exchanges for over N1000.

” If PDP had used all the money it received while in power to develop Abia State, nobody will still be talking of reconstructing Port Harcourt Road Aba today.

” I won’t blame PDP because it was not engaging in construction work and wouldn’t know how to compare costs. Which project will PDP use to compare?

” Before criticising another person, PDP should first tell Abians the cost of the Osisioma fly over it built. What they are claiming to have spent on that project was what Gov. Dave Umahi used in building 13 bridges in Ebonyi State then.”

Ogah warned critics to allow Gov. Otti to carry on with his mandate, insisting that he has been on course.

” They should allow the man to do governance. People are just carrying unnecessary propaganda, and Abia doesn’t need it. Settle down and watch the man. If after four years he is unable to deliver, then you can begin to talk, and not for this day one.

” I saw a post of bad road in Aba that somebody made, and I said: it’s the rot that PDP left in Abia. It’s not Alex Otti who just took over power.

” Otti has the capacity, the drive, and the passion. He knows where he is going and Abians from different political divides are solidly behind him. He has a promise and commitment with the people, and he will deliver”.

Reacting also, former State Chairman of the PDP and a governorship aspirant, Senator Emma Nwaka commended Otti for the resolve to fix the Port Harcourt Road Aba which he said is of immense economic importance to the state.

He also commended the Governor for awarding the contract to a reputable grade A construction firm for a quality and durable work.

Senator Nwaka advocated the engagement of JB for other key road projects in the state.

” This road is not the only road we we are expecting JB to do in the state. It will be wonderful if it will also handle the Umuahia- Arochukwu Road which has been in terrible condition for years, to give the people a sense of belonging.”

The former PDP Chairman declared total support for Gov. Otti who, according to him, is a prayer answered to Abians.

Similarly, Convener United Abia Artists Patriots Ambassador Osita Offor(Ultimate Commander) and DG Abia North Political Projects Group Dr. Uduma Nnate hailed Dr. Alex Otti for the bold move. Ultimate Commander had last week warned opposition in a Press Conference to desist from fabricating cheap lies against the government.

Meanwhile, the Coalition of South East Youths Leaders, has applauded Otti for his decision to rehabilitate the Port Harcourt Road Aba after years of abandonment by previous administrations.

The apex socio-political Igbo youths body said that by the decision, Otti had demonstrated that he truly came on a rescue mission.

President General of COSEYL, Comrade Goodluck Ibem, in a statement, pledged the total support of Igbo youths for Otti and any Igbo Governor that would prioritize people-oriented projects.

Describing Otti as “an enigma who has in four months done what PDP could not do in eight years”, COSTLY pledged its continued support for the Governor.

“The former administration of Okezie Ikpeazu could not construct Port Harcourt road after several promises on radio and TV live programmes to construct the road. Okezie Ikpeazu remains the most shameless Governor Abia State has ever produced.

“Gov Otti has proved beyond every reasonable doubt that he came into the business of governance to serve humanity and his generation. He is a rare gem of all times.

“Mammoth crowd that turned out today to witness the epic flag-off of Port Harcourt road that the previous administration borrowed money from foreign and international banks and couldn’t rehabilitate is a testament that this administration is people oriented.”

Port Harcourt Road Aba currently in bad shape, was constructed during the administration of the late Sam Mbakwe (between 1979 – 1983) of Old Imo State.

The road was once a bustling hub for economic activities but left to deteriorate over the past two decades by successive administrations.

In a speech entitled: “Building On A Solid Rock Of Excellence”, Governor Otti, during the flag off ceremony, expressed his unwavering commitment to restore the road to its former glory and make it even more economically viable.

He said: “I’m glad that we are taking yet another strategic step in fulfilling one of my major campaign promises which is to permanently break the jinx of Port Harcourt Road, Aba, and revive the long-abandoned economic activities along this corridor; activities that once gave Aba a set of peculiar advantages, starting from the early 1980s when our revered leader, Dee Sam Mbakwe, Governor of Old Imo State, constructed this road to feed into the expansion of the booming oil industrial complex in Port Harcourt.

“Dee Sam’s vision gained a foothold almost immediately as this stretch of road became a major hub for the servicing of heavy-duty vehicles, equipment, spare parts, power generating sets and ancillary tools. In no time, this axis emerged as one of the busiest parts of Aba and a go-to destination for maintenance engineers, procurement officers and contractors working for the multinationals in Port Harcourt and environs, bringing immediate prosperity and a host of other economic and social advantages to the city of Aba.

“For about two decades, it was all bliss and blush for businesses around this area until things began to fall apart in the mid to late 1990s, followed quickly by the unfortunate collapse and abandonment of the 2000s.

“Nothing seemed to work thereafter. In time, the businesses, including those that had their corporate headquarters around here began to disappear, finding more favourable locations as it became clear that succeeding administrations did not have the will to make the right commitments to restore this stretch of road and sustain its economic advantages; until today,” Governor Otti recalled as he addressed the mammoth crowd that trooped out to witness the landmark flag-off.

Otti said that the reconstruction was not a mere political gesture for short-term gain but a holistic effort to restore the road’s durability and economic significance.

He pointed out that his administration enlisted the expertise of Julius Berger Plc, a renowned civil engineering company in Nigeria with a reputation for delivering landmark projects, to ensure the highest quality was achieved.

“For the purpose of clarity, we are not just talking about pouring asphalt or doing any haphazard job just for cheap political capital. We have brought Julius Berger here for some well-defined reasons: to do a holistic job of fixing the road, addressing the age-long flooding problems especially at notoriously problematic points using appropriate technology and expertise; and ultimately see to it that with very minimal maintenance at regular intervals, this road shall continue to support the existing, new and returning businesses and their activities for at the very least, another twenty years, post-commissioning.

“My team members and I, including the state commissioner for works and many senior engineering staff of the ministry, worked closely with the team from Julius Berger to ensure that the technical design and specifications adopted answered all the important questions regarding durability, reliability, flood control and other critical parameters,” the Governor explained.

According to him, the reconstruction of Port Harcourt Road will drive the economic rejuvenation of Aba and bring about the city’s economic development for investments to thrive.

He said that he was partly fulfilled that his administration had reached another milestone in what had been a very long process which started immediately after he was declared winner of the March 18, 2023 governorship election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the 22nd of March 2023.

He pledged to complete the payment to Julius Berger on schedule to avoid any setbacks arising from delayed payment, adding that the project had a delivery timeline of 18 months.

“My expectation is that whatever needs to be done to meet the target would be done, including working round the clock. On our own part, we have set up a robust financing structure to see that we complete the payment on schedule to eliminate any setbacks arising from payment delays,” Otti pointed out.

He expressed gratitude to the people of Aba for their patience and commitment to genuine change and urged them to cooperate fully with the construction team, assuring that the short-term sacrifices would lead to long-term benefits for the economic nerve center of the state.

The Governor further said that his administration’s ambition is to reset the fundamentals of the city by improving economically significant roads, waste management, and various social infrastructure as well as creating a conducive environment for businesses to thrive, create jobs and reduce poverty.

He assured the people that his administration was dedicated to delivering on its promises, adding that the forthcoming months would witness a significant transformation in the city’s infrastructure and economic landscape.

In his remark, Commissioner for Works, Engr. Otumchere Oti, explained that the project is a total of 6.8 kilometres comprising 5.7kms from the beginning of Port Harcourt Road by Ngwa Road to the end at the intersection with the Enugu-Umuahia-Aba-Port Harcourt Expressway by Alaoji and another 1.1kms from the intersection with Ngwa Road to the junction of Azikiwe Road by Asa Road.

He said that the 5.7kms stretch of the road, originally a four-lane carriage, is now being reconstructed and expanded to six lanes with lay-bys and drainage system.

“The 1.1kms corridor, which yields into Port Harcourt Road, will be reconstructed as a four-lane carriage with lay-bys and drainage. The entire 6.8km road will be properly marked and fitted with solar powered street lights”, he said.

Speaking at the event, the Group managing Director of Julius Berger Nigeria Limited, Dr. Lars Richter, promised to deliver the project based on specification, describing the project as another milestone for the four months old administration of Governor Alex Otti.

He commended the Governor for his commitment to the infrastructural revolution of the state and thanked him for choosing Julius Berger to be part of his rebuilding agenda in the state.

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