The member representing the Arochukwu/Ohafia Federal Constituency at the National Assembly, Ibe Okwara Osonwa has vowed that the contractors that abandoned the Umuahia-Bende-Ohafia-Arochukwu federal road will not go free unless they complete the contract of completing the road or risk revocation of the contract.
Osonwa handed down this warning in a chat with newsmen after a constituency town hall meeting held in Ebem Ohafia on Saturday, regretting that his constituents have been subjected to untold hardship by the inability of the contractors to complete the federal road.
“This road was awarded to contractors in segments in 2005 by the federal government and according to the Ministry then in 2005 for the construction of section two of the Ohafia to Arochukwu road, which comprises Umuahia/Bende/Ohafia road in Abia State at the cost of N12.088 billion.
“The Buhari administration re-awarded the contract in 2015 to Niger Construction Limited at N2, 093,033,385.88 billion with contract No 5821. Its rehabilitation had been previously stalled for about 15 years, while a jointly awarded rehabilitation project in July 2018 was given to Hartland Nigeria Limited.
“The road comprised of a distance of 45 kilometres to complement Section One which was previously awarded in 2018, that is the section from Bende/Arochukwu to Ohafia which was 19.27 kilometres, while the sum of N5,490,680,078.33 was then budgeted for the Bende-Arochukwu-Ohafia Road, as the sum of N199,475,325.00 was allotted for the Bende-Arochukwu-Ohafia Road Phase II, and as at date, nothing significant has been done as contractors have abandoned the all-important road in Abia State.
“On the 31st of December, 2022, I attended a programme to support my then gubernatorial candidate and now sitting governor of Abia State, His Excellency Dr. Alex Otti in Ihechiowa. When he attended that event, both of us stood before the community and pledged to make sure that this road from Arochukwu, all the way through Umuahia would be done.
“On the first week of my resumption in office at the National Assembly, I made moves to meet the contractors doing this road, who, to date, have been very evasive. For whatever reason, the company called Hartland Construction has been very evasive, and non-responsive and I have spoken to the previous House of Representatives member representing us here, who has said, he would mediate a discussion between me and the organisation.
“Suffice it to say that if those mediations and discussions are not done, then, I would approach the minister of Works and Housing, His Excellency, Dave Umahi to have discussions with him where I will lay out my personal opinion about this company, as well as laying out my own opinion about the company to my own governor for us to take action. This is because you cannot look at the state of our roads and think that it is all well and good not doing anything.
“The state of the road has dilapidated more. We are just about to get into the Christmas period when we will all come home as we will always do as Ndigbo, We will come home and spend the festive season with our families. We cannot be coming home while also worried about the state of the road.”
On what next to do about the road, Osonwa said, “You can only start by complaining. When you complain first, you mediate. If mediation cannot be made, then if the contract has to be revoked and re-distributed, it will be done. Nobody is going to hold us hostage, no organisation.
“Every contract that is signed has a delivery time frame and financial implications to it. Now, if you have not lived up to the contract, it will be revoked. I am sorry, I bear no grudge against anybody, but you cannot come and cheat my people. and get away with it.”
Also worried by the Appeal Court judgment that removed Labour Party (LP) Senatorial candidate, Darlington Nwokocha as the winner of the Abia central senatorial election in favour of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Col. Austin Akobundu, the federal lawmaker said, “Darlington won his votes and won handsomely, winning every single local government, every single ward and totally votes over a gap between him and the person that is now gotten the seat with over 51, 000 votes.
“It is a shame that someone wins at the poll. It is a shame that your people came out and voted for you in their numbers, and then someone else goes to court to claim it. I have not seen the judgment. I am under the law. So we will look to see the judgment and learn from it. I need complete time to learn about what was said or how it was said and then we will make formal complaints.”
He assured that all members of the National Assembly from Abia North, party affiliation not minding are working in unity, stating, “I have the utmost respect for the Senator representing Abia North Sen, Orji Uzor Kalu. He knows more than I do. All of us in Abia North work in unity. We have a senator and who is our own. If there is anything we need, we consult him. So, when I cry to my Senator, if I need his support, I will go to him. I can also go and meet my brother who is the sixth citizen in the country, Ben Kalu.”
On the state governor, Alex Otti, he said, “I want to first celebrate that we have a man of integrity as our governor, a man who has a clear understanding of what he needs to do to move our state forward as a governor, we have a man that understands that there are contacts that need to be made for us to move our state forward. In all that, we have a man that has the contacts that can help us get to where we would be.”
He urged all Abians to be patient, stating, “We have just started. The most important thing to focus on in the first gear is to make sure that we have Aba working for us. This is because it is the money that we will generate from Aba that will be used to develop everywhere.”
The federal lawmaker said the essence of the constituency Town hall meeting was to thank them for the support that was granted in the election and also thank them for their prayers throughout the legal process, stating, “What I will never do is to assume autonomy of knowledge and understanding. I must always report to my people. It is not my victory, it is our victory. It is not my office, it is our office. So, what we should do is ultimately, step down, discuss with them and map out strategies.
“I am a strong believer in ‘you can only strengthen the people’. If you strengthen them with knowledge and understanding, provide a skill acquisition centre to our people, help our widows, making sure that the economy of Abia state and Ohafia and Arochukwu as our focal point is to develop and push forward to better our people at a point” he said and divided the constituency into yearly developmental segments by a group of wards and the appointment of its coordinators.
Speaking, the state chairman of the Labour Party, C. K. Igara, Ohafia LGA Mayor, Chief David Ogba Onuoha (Bourdex), Hon. Kalu Mba Nwoke, traditional rulers, youth leaders and other stakeholders in the constituency commended Osonwa for the constituency town hall meeting, describing it as a way of carrying all along.