Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu
“We are thinking outside the box, we want to make sure that Abia survives the post-oil era”.- Ikpeazu.
Thinking outside the box, which is also referred to as thinking out of the box or thinking beyond the box, is widely used in business circles, especially by management consultants and executive coaches. The phrase has been referenced in a number of advertising slogans .The phrase was derived from management consultants in the 1970s and1980s challenging their clients to solve the “nine dots” puzzle, whose solution requires some lateral thinking . It is a metaphor that means to think differently, unconventionally, or from a new perspective. It often refers to novel or creative thinking.
On the 24th, Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu briefed the journalists in the state.The briefing was significant for a couple of reasons. One , the administration is 200 days old. Two, the administration runs on 100-day circle, and at the end of each circle, a briefing is held to appraise the journey so far and acquaint Abians with what to expect in the next circle. Third, which i consider the most significant, the workers have just received their December salaries-an experience that has eluded them for quite a period-and there were intense jubilations across the state.
As the governor presented out his numerous achievements within the last 100 days, there was an unanimous concession in the hall to the fact that the administration is indeed on a speed lane. But what baffled everybody was the magic behind these achievements, considering the fact the states are almost on their knees as a result of the dwindling monthly allocations from the federation account occasioned by the decline in oil economy globally. Abia is badly hit by this experience. The monthly allocations fluctuate between N2.2 billion to N2.4billion, which is half or more than half of what it was getting.
With this level of paucity of funds staring Abia menacingly on the face, Ikpeazu must be a magician to have engaged over 40 active roads construction sites(running simultaneously and some fitted with street light), and which out of the lot, not less than nine has been completed; completed Okonu and Umunneochi bridges; pay Abia workers promptly; amongst other achievements. Also, plans are underway to engage a major contractor on the popularly Ururuka Road to reduce the time spent from Aba to Umuahia; and to also give Faulks Road a facelift for an unfettered access to Ariaria International Market.
Besides, the state has adopted cement technology in some of these roads .A technology that is capital intensive. But Ikpeazu’s motive behind the adoption of the technology is that the roads will outlast his administration. Because, according to him, it will be counter-productive if the administration, within one to two years, borrows solicits for loans to rehabilitate these roads after they must have collapsed.
Cement technology, also known as “Rigid Pavement Technology in road construction 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, Gov. Ikpeazu chooses this technology 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.
Indeed, the current Nigerian economy requires every governor to think outside the box, and that is what Gov. Ikpeazu is doing to succeed in Abia. Thank God that recently the federal government urged states to explore alternative sources of revenue.