Right from when he was sworn in, Governor Willie Obiano knew that roads and bridges were highly important to Ndi Anambra. To a people for whom life is a constant motion; the road is a fitting metaphor for existence.
In the past, elections had been won or lost on account of roads. Consequently, to the average onye Anambra, constructing an access road leading to his community is the ultimate proof that he is in the reckoning of the government of the day.
Obiano is fully aware of this fact. However, coming from a strictly private sector background, Governor Obiano thought that the litmus test for the efficient spending of scarce resources on building roads was to begin with the question; ‘road to where, exactly?’ He felt that it was no longer reasonable or sustainable to construct roads all over the state, but even more important to build roads and bridges that would have visible economic values. In line with this thinking, he made a clear declaration that his administration would build only roads and bridges leading to industrial clusters, agrarian hubs, the oil fields and commercial centers. He would also build roads that would make life easy in Anambra’s fast expanding cities as well as discourage the growing rural-urban migration.
In pursuit of that vision, Governor Obiano has completed 15 bridges across the three senatorial zones of Anambra State. They include the three flyovers in Awka and Amawbia and other bridges like the Nengo River Bridge, the Iyiora Bridge, the Ebenebe-Amansea-Ugbene-Ugbenu Bridge, the Umueje Oil Rig Bridge as well as the Kisa River Bridge in Umunya, the SARS Awkuzu Abube-Nando Bridge, Ndiukwuenu-Awa-Ufuma bridges (they are three), the Ezira-Umuomaku-Enugu Umuonyia Bridge and the Section 2 Mmiata Anam-Nzam Bridge.
All these bridges have become outstanding legacies of the Obiano administration. However the 280 meters-long Aguleri Uno Aguleri-Otu bridge that leads to the oilfields of Anambra State stands out as the longest bridge in South East Nigeria and a monument to an administration that is committed to making Anambra State fulfill its enormous potentials. No previous administration ever paid this much attention to the importance of linking up diverse communities split apart by nature with modern bridges.
And now, let’s look at roads. Before we assess Governor Obiano’s performance on roads, it is important to note that the Obiano administration does not look at roads in terms of the number of kilometers constructed but from the point of view of the impact the roads are likely to have on the life of the communities they were built to serve. In other words, wouldn’t it be more profitable to construct a road of a few kilometers long to an industrial cluster than to build a 50km road to an economic dead end?
However for the purposes of specificity and clarity, the Obiano administration has awarded a total of 53 Roads in Anambra South and completed 11 of them. Some of the roads awarded and completed by the administration in Anambra South include the Oye Utu-Akwuata-Court Road in Nnewi South, the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Road Uli in Ihiala and the Ebenato Udene-Amichi Road.
In Anambra Central, the administration awarded a total of 76 roads and completed 20 of them. Some of the roads completed in Anambra Central Senatorial Zone include the Commonwealth Road-Anyaoku Street-Mbidebe Enweozor Street-Afor Adike market Road Obosi, the Agbaja Abatete-Oraukwu/Alor Junction Road and the Ebube Muo Nso-Blessed Iwene Tansi Parish Road, Umudioka as well as the Eke-Uke Market-Uke Maternity Road.
In Anambra North Senatorial Zone, the administration awarded 89 roads. The figure was pushed up by the multiplicity of internal roads in the Anambra International Airport Umueri. However, out of this figure, the Obiano administration has completed 26 roads in the zone. Some important roads awarded and completed in Anambra North by the administration are; the Awkuzu SARS-Abube Nando Square Road, Ose Okwuodu Market Road, Onitsha, the Nengo River Road and the Umueze-Igboezunu-Adani Road in Anambra East.
But perhaps what is even most fascinating about the aggressive construction of roads and bridges in Anambra by the Obiano administration is the little surprise for opposition elements who have always argued that Governor Obiano had abandoned all road projects he inherited from his predecessor. The records from the Ministry of Works show that out of the 97 roads Governor Obiano inherited when he took over, he has actually completed 54 of them while the rest are still undergoing construction. Some key roads that Obiano inherited from his predecessor and faithfully completed in fulfillment of the continuity mandate include; the Ekwulobia-Ezinifite Road, Ndiokwu-Amikpa-Oki Umuchu Road, Nsogwu Umunze Road, Igboukuwu-Ekwulumili Road by Grand Star, the Justice Nwazota, Oraifite, St Theresa’s Road, St Peter’s Nnewichi, Oguonu Road, Ozubulu, the Oye Neni-Adazi nnukwu-Akwaeze Igboukwu Road and finally the Umunamehi Road in Ihiala among many others.
A close look reveals a great effort to balance the distribution of roads to ensure that every zone is given a fair share of patronage by the government. This is also reflected in the level of attention paid to the need to complete some key roads in the different zones.
Another important detail that will not escape the reflective reader is that almost all the roads completed by governor Obiano have a clear and distinct purpose that they fulfill. It is a validation of his declaration that his administration would give priority to roads that have economic and social values to Anambra State. So, the question ‘road to where?’ is sufficiently answered in Obiano’s choice of roads to construct.