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Chief Alphonsus Udeigbo, President of Aba Landlords Protection and Development Association (ALPADA), believes the sacking of touts from collecting government revenue and interacting with major stakeholders on priority areas of the tasks of repositioning Abia, was a solid foundation process, embarked upon by the Alex Otti administration.

While noting that criticisms was acceptable in democratic governance, he advised the administration to translate its “Help is here, at last,” slogan into action, to quieten its detractors.  Governor Otti

“Aba landlords and other stakeholders, will be monitoring the activities of government. It will not be business as usual, as was the case for past administrations. We have been giving thumbs up to Dr Alex Otti, for commencing the laying of a solid foundation, that would re-prioritize and reposition the total infrastructure of Abia State, for purposeful development. Otti has started engaging in wide interactions with many sectors of the society, including the business, commercial and professional arms, on areas to commence immediate work of rebuilding dilapidated infrastructure. This has come as a surprise to us, as no administration before his, had done so, in the past. Otti’s posture, had surprised me and my group, in that in the past, we were always ignored, despite writing letters, pleading to have audience with new governors, to suggest possible areas of development. But to our surprise, I got a phone call as ALPADA President, to come with my executive members, to discuss priority roads, the new administration, will urgently fix, in Aba, even with the heavy rains, to help ease traffic congestion in the commercial city.”

When I got the phone call to come with my executive members to Umuahia, I asked, if we had committed any offence, to which the man that had called, said no. The caller said that the government wanted to interact with us, as stakeholders in Aba, to name access roads that could be reconstructed immediately, outside of Port Harcourt Road, which work is already commencing, to help ease the traffic congestions in the town. To me, Dr Alex Obioma Otti has begun on a solid foundation with the posture, to carry the people along in the planning stage. If you want to build a skyscraper, you must lay a strong foundation that will carry such edifice, so that it will not collapse. Even after the meeting in Umuahia, the officials came down to Aba and also, attended our group’s meeting, for the month of June, where they addressed the entire ALPADA membership on the same issue, and out of enthusiasm, some major access roads were recommended for immediate rehabilitation. This is what is called democracy, to bring members of the society to participate in governance.”

“The sacking of touts and banning of all sorts of revenue payments to unauthorized persons, is a major credit and sure foundation laying, for a peaceful Abia. In the past, the issue of revenue collection had caused serious problems especially here in Aba. People claiming to be government revenue agents had held our society in the jugular by intimidating and coercing innocent people into forceful payment of illegal taxes and levies, most of which went into private pockets of the collectors and their masters instead of government coffers.”

Again, this is a wise decision, which the new administration has made. Before now, there were touts everywhere, blocking roads, streets and passenger vehicle loading sites, demanding and collecting tolls from commercial transport operators daily and claiming they were for the government, which were all lies.

The people bore the brunt as the transporters hiked fares to their destinations to accommodate these demands. Now, if you look at Aba streets, people claiming to be government agents no longer disturb citizens. No more collection of tolls and levies, from even the motor parks. Vehicles drive in, carry passengers and move out, no touting and wasting of time, again. We are praying to God, to guide and assist Otti, to sustain the zeal. Looking at the people, he has brought in and those still being proposed to join him in the government, we can only say that he has wisdom. This is a welcome development, that should be encouraged. We also heard that he had gone to interact with the government of Lagos State, over the plight of Igbo traders, whose properties were being pulled down by the authorities there. That was a step in the right direction.

“The criticisms from the opposition, especially the PDP, which accused the governor of casting blame on its member, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu’s administration, for embezzling funds and underdeveloping of the state, are in order in a democracy, and with the freedom of expression Act. However, the onus is on the party, to show proof that what it was being accused of, was not true or did not happen in Abia. One can only believe, when they come out with clear evidence, of things being claimed.”

“What we are seeing now, shows that the difference is becoming clearer. One will not expect the PDP to keep quiet. They will be talking, until the light is beamed on them for everyone to see. Haven’t we heard that the past administration, left the state in heavy debt? They left no money in the government account. Have they said much about the billion, billion debt they accrued? Have they also mentioned the bank account they left the funds they claimed to have handed over? If money is there, why were they owing several months salary and pension arrears? These are what we expect them to address. If not, Abians and Nigerians at large, will only laugh at their gestures.”

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