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Ikpeazu’s media interaction and the charge to local government chairmen

By Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu on 16/12/2017

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•Governor Ikpeazu
•Governor Ikpeazu

Media interactions offer leaders the opportunity to reel out their policies and programmes, explain them and to feel the pulse of their subjects on certain critical issues. Most importantly, they offer a feedback, which is a critical element of communication.

Recently, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State embarked on a tour of some radio stations in the state, where he presented his activities and explained the philosophies driving his programmes and policies. The platforms provided Abians the opportunity to seek explanations from their governor on some issues.

One issue of note is the charge by the governor to local government chairmen to live up to their constitutional responsibilities by at least giving the rural roads a facelift to ease movements in the rural localities.

This charge is not only apt but has also opened debates about the enormous responsibilities vested on the leaderships at the local government levels as the third tier of government which is closest to the people. On this note, heaping every responsibility on the shoulders of the State Government is not only cumbersome but would weigh the state down. The local government councils should complement the efforts of the state by discharging the responsibilities assigned to them by the constitution.

The importance of the local government cannot be over-emphasised. It is defined as the lowest level of government in a country established by law to ensure the effective and efficient administration of the localities or rural areas. The United Nations Department of Public Administration defines the local government as the political sub-division of a country which is designed by law and has substantial control of local affairs, including power to impose levies and exact labour for prescribed purposes.

The local government is an indispensable unit of the federation. It is the tier of government nearest to the people. Part II, Section 7 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended 2011) guarantees that the government of every state shall ensure the existence of local government under a law which provides for the establishment, structure, composition, finance and functions of such councils.

The local government is created to bring government nearer to the people; serve as the medium to articulate and promote local interest; act as the instrument for political education; and promotion of rural development. Others are to mobilise and harness local resources; and to serve as link between the rural dwellers and other tiers of the government.

Unarguably, the highest concentration of a country’s population, especially in the developing world, is concentrated in the rural areas. This is why the local government tier of government is as important as water is to fish.

The roles of the local government system are divided into mandatory, permissive and concurrent. The obligatory roles of the local government are those roles provided by Schedule IV of the Constitution. They are functions which the local government is bound to render to the people because of its knowledge of the local problems. The obligatory roles include maintenance of rural roads, streets, and drainages; construction and maintenance of motor parks, public conveniences and cemeteries; provision of health facilities such as clinics, dispensaries and maternities.

Others are disposal of refuse; building of primary schools; collection of rates; radio and television licenses; licensing of bicycles, trucks, wheel barrows; naming of streets, roads and numbering of houses, registration of births, deaths  and marriages; establishment and maintenance of recreational facilities; and regulation of outdoor advertisements, movement of domestic animals, shops and kiosks, restaurants and food and liquor vendors.

To fix the local government is to fix greater percentage of the problems bedeviling Abia and to lessen the burdens on the shoulders of Gov. Ikpeazu.

Another issue of concern raised by Gov. Ikpeazu is the unpalatable attitudes of some Abia residents which tend to undermine the road infrastructure strides of the governor. These elements have cultivated habits capable of compromising the integrity of the roads built by the governor.

Situations are rife where mature and responsible adults dump refuse into these drainages despite the presence of Abia State Environmental Protection Agency’s (ASEPA) receptacle bins or waste buckets. The implication of this is that the dumping of the refuse lead to the blockage of the drainage. When this happens, the storm water would not flow and the roads are flooded and subsequently eroded.

Unfortunately, some sections of these roads have been converted to car wash or emergency mechanic workshops. The perpetrators of these unwholesome activities have refused to withdraw despite intensive media campaigns mounted by ASEPA against these activities.

These activities pose great challenge to these roads which government constructed with its lean resources. Some of the materials used in the car wash business are corrosive in nature and possess the potentials of eroding these roads. On the other hand, oil and other lubricants used in car repairs contain dangerous substances that are inimical to the roads.

There is an appeal here to the relevant government agencies, especially ASEPA to go beyond media campaigns to enforce stricter measures within the confines of the law to check these unwholesome practices. These measures can manifest in the forms of fines which could boost the revenue base of the state or lighter jail terms to deter prospective defaulters.

Also, Traffic and Indiscipline Management Agency of Abia State (TIMAAS) should issue specific hours when broken-down vehicles should last on the roads or be impounded for the owner to claim it with the payment of fine.

In major locations of the towns in the state, broken-down vehicles spend hours if not days before they are removed. These scenes do not only constitute an eyesore but pose serious traffic challenges. Most times, the owners of these vehicles prefer carrying out repairs on the roads, an activity that is inimical to life span of these roads.

Gov. Ikpeazu has always emphasised the essence of building roads that would outlast his administration. In his words, “It will be unfashionable if money is borrowed to build roads and within the life span of the administration, money is borrowed to rehabilitate it.”

Worthy of note is that some of these roads are done with Rigid Cement Technology Cement technology ensures the mixture of crush rock-based materials and other items to achieve a thickness fill and compaction to the level of 300mm. This is followed by a concrete reinforcement cast with 8mm to10mm-high tensil (mash of wires) reinforcement bars over the stabilised base before treating it with prime coat and asphaltic concrete.

Though the cost of this technology is higher than those of the conventional construction methods, it is preferred as a means of strengthening the load-bearing capacity of roads in Abia and to boost the strength and quality of the finished work.

The technology has a sustainability guarantee of10 to 20 years. Cement technology is one of the technologies used in the construction of airport runways, tarmac and places with heavy loads like machines and equipment. The technology is a good solution for achieving sustainable roads in Nigeria.

Besides the long life span of concrete roads, they are environmentally friendly. Concrete roads are more environmentally friendly compared to asphalt roads and this reduces the frequent repair or patch works on the concrete roads like asphalt roads.

Rigid cement technology is highly desired in this season of recession because it will be unfashionable for the government to return to the roads which it has initially constructed before the next rainy season. These reasons justify the adoption of the rigid cement technology in some roads constructed in Abia. And this reason, if not any other reason, should compel the perpetrators of these unwholesome and unpatriotic acts to desist from them.

Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu writes from Aba.

Source News Express

Posted 16/12/2017 12:52:55 PM


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