By Leo Okachie
Umuahia – The Bishop of Umuahia Catholic Diocese, Most Rev. Lucius Ugorji, has advised the Abia government to take urgent steps to address the huge infrastructure deficit in the state, especially Aba, the commercial hub of the state.
Ugorji made the call in his sermon on Sunday during a special thanksgiving mass to commemorate the 28th anniversary of the creation of the state at Mater Dei Cathedral, Umuahia.
He said that the state of infrastructure in Aba was deplorable and begging for immediate government’s attention to avert its total collapse.
The cleric also urged the government to endeavour to pay workers and teachers “promptly, as an when due” in order to motivate them to give their best.
He expressed profound gratitude to God for the human and mineral deposits as well as other material resources endowed on the state.
He expressed joy that the state had produced great sons and daughters, who had excelled in different spheres of human endeavours across the globe.
He further said that Aba possessed great potential that had attracted enormous trade and investment from other parts of Nigeria and West African region.
He opined that with digilent exploitation of the potential, Aba would be one of the greatest cities in Africa.
Ugorji, however, expressed worry over the growing state of insecurity in the state, citing the menace of herdsmen and their wanton destruction of people’s farms in the state.
The clergyman alleged that herdsmen recently attacked the diocesan farm, destroying crops worth over N2.5 million and attempted “to stab the farm manager to death.”
He regretted that although the matter was reported to security agencies, no arrest had yet been made.
He therefore charged security agencies in the state to rise to their responsibility of protecting the lives and property of the citizenry.
Ugorji commended the government for lifting the ban on employment, describing the measure as a positive development that could reduce the unemployment and crime rates in the state.
He further lauded government’s handover of schools to missions but said that there were still some hiccups in the completion process.
Deputy Gov. Ude Oko-Chukwu, who represented Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu at the solemn event, thanked God for the relative security in the state, in spite of the widespread security challenges in the country.
Uko-Chukwu also said that Abia had enjoyed substantial peace and harmony among political class in the state.
He commended the efforts of the founding fathers of the state in the realisation of the state in 1991 and promised that the present administration would continue to uphold the ideals of the elder statesmen.
He further promised that Okezie’s administration would not renege on its campaign promises to the citizenry.
He urged Christians to continue to pray for the country to overcome the current challenges that seemed to threaten its peace and unity.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the mass was attended by top government functionaries, including the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Chris Ezem, Head of Service, Mr Onyii Wamah, Commissioner for Information, Chief John Kalu, and the Chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigerian, Chief Princewill Onyegbu, among others.