Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
The people of Isieketa autonomous community in Isialangwa South Local Government Area of Abia State have staged a protest following â€œa politically motivatedâ€ stoppage of a road project undertaken by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The road project was attracted in 2015 by the state leader of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Mr. Alex Otti, while the contractor commenced work few weeks ago.
Marching and chanting solidarity songs the protesters gathered at the Ubaha Isieketa civic hall where they poured out their grievances, alleging that the local government chairman, Hon Ifeanyi Isikaku had ordered the contractor to stop work.
When contacted on phone, the council chairman confirmed that he did order the contractor to stop work because, according to him, the road had already been awarded by the state government for reconstruction, adding that about two kilometres of the road had been completed.
Isikaku also alleged that the NDDC contractor had told him that the terms of the contract did not entail total construction of the Isieketa â€“ Amuha â€“ Umuehiri road which cuts across both Isiala Ngwa North and Isiala Ngwa South local governments.
â€œSomebody said he came to do a palliative work. I told him there is no where I will accept palliative work on a road the governor has awarded for reconstruction,â€ he said.
But the protesters said there was political undertone in the action of the council boss, saying that the road project was attracted by the leader of APGA, Otti hence the move to deny him the credit.
According to them, the road popularly known as Isieketa â€“ Mbawsi road had remained a foot path for over 50 years before Otti, who was the gubernatorial candidate of APGA in 2015, got the intervention of the NDDC in construction the road.
The people who conducted themselves peacefully and later went back to their respective homes following assurances from their community leaders that the initiator of the project, Otti had taken measures and would do everything to ensure that the solid project going on there is not interrupted by anyone on the alter of selfish politics.
Speaking with journalists insisted that by attracting the road project Otti has wiped their tears when they had lost all hope after over 50 years of having to endure plying the dilapidated road, adding that NDDC has commenced the construction of the road.
Mr. Chukwudi Adindu from Amuha village insisted that NDDC was constructing â€œa very solid road for the peopleâ€, warning that they would resist any attempt to interrupt the road project.
Both Chief Eze Ufomba from Umuakwa village and Chief Edwin Njoku from Umuakpo Ovungwu village said that prior to the intervention of the NDDC on the prompting of Otti the people of the communities that the road traverses had been finding it very difficult to evacuate their farm produce.
However, they said the story had started changing for the better with the commencement of the construction road project.