Chief Ali Odefa, is the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the Ebonyi State Governor on Infrastructural Maintenance. He is also the man, at the helm of affairs at the state’s Roads Maintenance Agency (EBROMA). In this interview with EDWARD NNACHI, in Abakaliki, Odefa said infrastructural projects in the state cut across all the 13 local government areas.
How would you feel if you hear the opposition in Ebonyi State say the governor is ‘vindictive’ with his infrastructural development?
If I hear that I will be very disappointed, because the projects the governor is doing in the state cut across all regions, ethnic and political leanings.
They are evenly spread across all the 13 local government areas of the state. There is no local government, where a multi-billion naira project, especially road has not been executed or is ongoing.
So for people to come up and say the governor has been vindictive with his infrastructural development in the state is laughable and childish.
It’s not strange; it’s the man who has the ball that’s being tackled. The governor’s projects in this state are being done in such a way, that no matter where you are, you will feel the impact.
Dividends of democracy are going round judiciously in Ebonyi State, under David Umahi’s administration unlike what we had before now here.
And the governor is a highly detribalised person. Therefore, his programmes and projects cut across every nook and cranny of this state.
Your boss is currently fixing roads in some select churches’ premises in the state. Could you please tell us what informed his decision to do this?
Like I have said at different for a, these projects we are doing are parts of the Ebonyi State government’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) to the churches.
And our governor, as a lover of the things of God and also, as a Deacon, deemed it fit to extend his magnanimity to these churches, by fixing roads within their premises.
Even as a growing young man, when the governor had no house of his own he gathered all his savings and built a church for God. Therefore, it’s not strange that he is remembering churches and their neighbourhoods by way of building roads for them.
Opposition is mounting ahead of 2019 in the state, to unseat the incumbent. How prepared is your party to retain Government House next year?
You know, talk is cheap. The people who are making these useless efforts to unseat the incumbent are people who have not done anything to better the lives of their immediate family members.
They are the ones saying they would better the lives of Ebonyians. You can see what we are doing in this state. What we are doing is practical. All the things the governor has done are here for people, including those staging for his non reelection, to see.
His works are not hidden. And even the opposition members, themselves admit that the man has done well. So, we are happy for the governor.
Ebonyians are watching. They know what is good for them. Again, the political consciousness of the people is high now, unlike hitherto. And I believe that, come 2019, Ebonyians will come out en mass to reciprocate the good gestures the governor has shown them.
Why is Ebonyi State government embracing concrete road technology considering its very high cost?
It’s more expensive to do concrete road than asphalting. But the truth of the matter is that the soil texture of Ebonyi is so bad that you can’t give the guarantee on asphalted roads, even if they are done by a multi-national construction company, because overtime the roads would deplete.
But concrete roads give you a lifetime guarantee. They last longer. So that’s why the state government has deemed it necessary to consider concrete roads, as against asphalted roads.
We want to do something that will last for our children, and the generation after them long after we are gone. The state government wants to do something sustainable.
The governor is always on site inspecting projects. Does it mean he does not trust those handling the jobs?
No. Far from that. The governor is a practical man. Why jobs are not properly done in this part of the world is because of lack of supervision.
He wants to be on site to supervise these jobs, to ensure they are done in tandem with international best practices and standard. If you give out jobs to people and you go back to the office and sit down.
Overtime you will discover that structural measures are not followed and in the end what you have is shoddy jobs done by the contractors. But when you supervise them, quality is maintained.
He prefers to supervise these jobs so that caution in terms of quality and standard, will not be thrown overboard. Simply put, the essence behind his constant supervision is to enhance strict adherence to standard and quality. And it’s also to ensure that contractors do not do shoddy jobs.
How has the administration fared in terms of infrastructural development?
Excellent! Very excellent!! Before now, most of the roads in Ebonyi State were impassable, most of the roads were very bad. But presently if you look around you will see that there are massive infrastructural jobs that have been done by this administration.
And they are still many ongoing projects here. His Excellency, Governor Umahi has done well, especially on infrastructure. Today you can be in the urban area, and feel the ambience of the capital city.
I can drive from my house in Abakaliki beyond my house in the village, without switching on my headlight. He has done marvelously well, despite the state’s meager resources.
With all this you have said, do you think Umahi has done well to deserve re-election in 2019?
Yes, he has done well. And I can say it again, that he has certainly done well. Everybody has his or her shortcomings. There’s no perfect man anywhere in the world, which is why from time to time, we aspire to perfection.
We may have our weaknesses as a government led by humans. But like I have said at different fora, where we have done well, far more outweighs where we have not done well.
And what I ask of Ebonyians, is understanding, to give us another chance. If we are given another chance we will do far more than we have done within the period under review.
Tell us about your achievements so far as the man in charge of EBROMA?
I superintend and supervise the Ebonyi State Roads Maintenance Agency (EBROMA), where we are saddled with the responsibility of maintaining roads, be it state or federal roads. We ensure that our roads are in good order at all times.
We started in 2016 and so far, we have maintained almost 30 roads. We equally have maintained federal roads; we started with Amasiri-Afikpo-Okigwe high way.
Before then, there was a particular spot on this very road that was impassable and thus, constituted great danger to motorists.
Owing to concerns raised by road users on this very bad spot, the police came there and mounted their checkpoint, in order to deter robbers from unleashing mayhem on the citizenry.
We wrote to the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA). But when we saw that FERMA was not forthcoming, we swung into action on the advice of the governor and maintained the road.
The governor had said it is Ebonyi people that use the road, not the Federal Government. And so he advised we handle that road. We have also maintained Enugu-Abakaliki express road.
EBROMA has maintained this expressway about twice now. Outside Abakaliki, we have done the Ugwulangwu road. We have also maintained some bad spots on roads in Ohaozara Local Government Area.
Ebonyi State government, under the leadership of Engr. Dr. David Nweze Umahi has maintained so many roads in this state via the platform of EBROMA, her meager resources notwithstanding. And so far, we have spent over N690million on road infrastructure in the last two years.
There’s no perfect man anywhere in the world, which is why from time to time, we aspire to perfection. We may have our weaknesses as a government led by humans. But like I have said at different fora, where we have done well, far more outweighs where we have not done well. And what I ask of Ebonyians, is understanding, to give us another chance. If we are given another chance we will do far more than we have done within the period under review.