With the successful inauguration of the administration of Dr Peter Mbah as the governor of Enugu State on May 29, and the 8th inauguration of the state house of assembly on June 13, the people of the state are in another political voyage expecting a positive change in governance.
Arguably, the successive regimes in the state scored high and low in critical areas especially in healthcare and infrastructure, and one nagging issue that keep many angry is the problem of abandoned projects in the state. A visitor to Enugu will be shocked by the abandoned multi-million-naira International Conference Centre and the deplorable condition of the Presidential Hotel, which was once a pride of the Easterners, a legacy of late Michael Okpara then Premier of Eastern Region.
When Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi as a governor declared his moves in 2018 to complete the multi-million-naira International Conference abandoned by his predecessor, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani, there was reprieve among Coal City dwellers and beyond.
But years after, the edifice is still standing unattended, heightening assertion by critics that the then governor’s directive to the State Ministry of Works and Infrastructure to initiate and commence the evaluation of outstanding builder’s works and other contractual requirements for the completion of the Conference Centre was a smokescreen.
Today, history has proved the then State Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Greg Nnaji wrong that Ugwuanyi’s administration was desirous to put in place mechanism to complete the edifice in view of its inherent socio-economic benefits to the people of the state.
The case of Presidential Hotel is also worrisome. Although in 2018, there was renovation exercise carried out in some sections of the hotel including premier garden, the swimming pool arena, wedding arena and the four tennis courts, all the efforts seem to have gone down to zero as the hotel is yet to be brought back to a functional state.
In rural communities, some roads are begging for attention as some of them have been abandoned for years by successive regimes.
For instance, Ogrute/Amachalla/Okpo road, despite the flagging off the project in 2017, which raised hopes among the people of the community, it is still in sorry state.
Findings revealed that in 2017, Enugu State budgeted N125 million and the same amount budgeted in 2018 for the project and it was awarded to an indigenous company- Ferotex Construction Company.
In 2019, N750 million was budgeted for the project, while N200 million was earmarked in 2020, totalling N1.2 billion in four years. In Enugu metropolis, many streets in Uwani, Idaw River axis and Abakpa- Nike are filled with potholes. For an example, the traffic jam experience along Agbani Road, Enugu by motorists in the morning and in evening is terrible.
If there is any top politician who is pained by the catalogue of abandoned projects in Enugu, it is the immediate-past Speaker of Enugu State House of Assembly, Hon. Edward Ubosi. Expressing his worry over the spate of uncompleted and abandoned Federal Government projects in State, Ubosi specifically mentioned the abandoned multi-million-naira Digital Bridge Institute and over 100 units of a housing estate in Enugu East Local Government Area of the state.
Ubosi had noted that some of the completed projects would turn into economic waste if urgent steps were not taking to put them in use. Despite the appeal by the former lawmaker, the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy is yet to put to use the Digital Bridge Institute and possible allocation of a housing estate in Ugwuogo axis of Enugu East Local Council to avoid being used as a hideout by criminals.
A cross section of Enugu residents interviewed lamented that the Institute had been completed for years with state-of-the-art facilities yet kept fallow. They wondered why such an important institute would not be put to use after completion, thereby defeating the dreams of the youths in accessing the desired ICT training.
Recalled that Ubosi had also appealed to the authority at Centre to put necessary machinery in motion with a view to activating the institute and the Ministry of Housing to allocate all completed housing projects to addressing the housing challenges in Enugu State. He equally urged the Ministry of Water Resources to complete all dam projects in Enugu State, especially Adada Dam, to boost food production and encourage youths in agriculture.
For many residents of Enugu, it will be gladdened if the new state government embarks on massive repairs of roads, stressing that motorists are going through untold hardship due to bad roads.
Happily, Governor Mbah had in his maiden speech vowed to reposition Enugu State with his disruptive innovation, promising, among others, to dualise Nike-Ugwogo-Opi Road which Ugwuanyi intended but never had the political will to execute.
“We will pursue an infrastructural revolution in Enugu State by turning our state into one huge construction site. We will prioritize road construction and infrastructural renewal ensuring that our roads are well paved. Where necessary we shall construct flyovers and dualise roads as a remedy to any gridlocks”, he assured.
Indeed, the people of the state are also interested in seeing other abandoned projects like the Aluminum Industry at Ohebe Dim and the Vegetable Oil at Nachi resuscitated. The completion of the multi-million naira state secretariat started by ex-governor Sullivan Chime will be a great delight to civil servants in the state as it will end their make-shift accommodation which some of them are occupying as an alternative.