Ikpeazu and the new Abia transformation by Onyema Ibeh

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Abia Tower at Umuahia
Abia Tower at Umuahia

The speed with which the seven metropolitan roads and sundry projects were delivered signposted the governor of Abia State, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, as a governor that was truly ready to work for his state. This uncommon virtue of service delivery among Nigerian political leaders and public servants was, indeed, acknowledged beyond the shores of Abia.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is known to be a virulent critic of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, put aside his disdain for the party that produced Ikpeazu and visited Abia in honour of the man he glowingly described as a visionary performer. Obasanjo commissioned some of the early development projects executed by the Ikpeazu administration.

The new road network in and around Aba is today visible as evidence of the transformed trading centre, which had been known to attract daily a large number of traders and businessmen from across Nigeria and neighbouring West African countries. For so many years, Aba has served as a feeder point to traders from huge commercial centres like Lagos, Onitsha, Owerri, Port Harcourt, Kano, Kaduna and several other places in the north of the republic. The potential of a new Aba to boost the economy of Abia state has always been there. Today, an average Abia indigene who cherishes good service delivery is proud of the Ikpeazu phenomenon. Ikpeazu has impacted Abia in developing strong institutional framework that are helping to stabilise governance structures of the state, in spite of the challenges posed by dwindling revenue allocation from the federal, and the distractions of the legal offensive from the opposition APGA in the state. The innovative approach of the Ikpeazu government tripled the state’s internally generated revenue within the short period of his administration from paltry N500million monthly to an impressive N1.5billion. This was achieved by simply harnessing the loose and leaking ends of the revenue flow without overburdening the ordinary people of the state.

On a visit to any part of Abia, one could easily feel the progression of sustained development projects in several facets of the government. Another critical innovation was Ikpeazu’s ideas of creating a synergy between education, employment and youth empowerment as a fulcrum for developing a safe and secured society. The perk for achieving that, as developed by Ikpeazu, is the establishment of a scheme that he called “E for E”.

“E for E” means Education for Employment, which apart from exposing the young ones to functional education, also takes them through vocational training to become self-sustaining.

As things are going, Ikpeazu will undoubtedly pass as a governor that has connected practically with the yearnings and desires of the people of his state. It thus ridicules the desperate efforts of the opposition APGA to derail the vision of growth that Abia is currently enjoying, which is why most people in the state will not have anything of what they see widely as strangulating verdict of the Court of Appeal. However, hopes are high that the Supreme Court will throw the APGA case against Ikpeazu into the Lagoon and Abians will remain happy with the governor that they chose.

Seeing the sharp political intrigues and divisive tendencies that have generated bad blood among the people of Abia State since the popular election of Dr. Okezie Victor Ikpeazu as governor on April 11, 2015, any feeble minded person could easily give up hope on the state, to the extent of even saying, “well, maybe it will be a good thing to let the man go”. The only reason such persons would desire a break will just be to have an end to the distractions that the main opposition party in the state now constitute, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and its candidate in the 2015 governorship election, Dr. Alex Otti, have refused to live with the factual situation that they lost the election to Ikpeazu. The height of the distractions to the Ikpeazu’s focussed administration came with the controversial judgement of the Court of Appeal in December 2015, which reviewed the election figures and took away a large chunk of Ikpeazu’s vote only to award the governorship of the state to Otti. Ikpeazu and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have already taken a step against the curious judgement by heading to the Supreme Court. But the main worries of the Otti and APGA assault on the state still subsist.

It needs be stated quickly, however, that giving up hope on the state because of the political brinkmanship going on at the moment is not an option for any patriotic Abia indigene. It is what happens in most states in Nigeria after any general election, what should be of paramount interest and consideration to everyone are the new strides being achieved in the development initiatives of the Ikpeazu administration vis-à-vis the governor’s campaign promises to the people who gave him their mandate to lead. In the little time that Ikpeazu has run Abia, it will not be an exaggeration to say that his government has done visible works that have put the state on the path to transformational development.

The evidences of Ikpeazu’s effective service delivery as governor of Abia are visible in several areas of the state institutions, public concerns and direct people-centred projects, all designed to impact the lives and well-being of everyone in the state. Abia people can now see how Ikpeazu has been addressing the needs of all peoples in the state.

To properly assess the performance strides of the Ikpeazu administration, it may be apt to rein some of his campaign agenda against the works that have been done in less a quarter of his four-year mandate.

Two major specifics are key to Ikpeazu as enunciated in his campaign covenant with the people of Abia State. He says, “my mission is to elevate the quality of life of Abians”, while his vision is “to make Abia State the premier destination in Nigeria,

West and Central Africa; for investors, shoppers, workers and tourists”.

There is no doubt that these two development perspectives capture the whole essence of any government in rendering quality service to its people. Focusing his development agenda on the people, Ikpeazu notes that government would leverage on the comparative strength of Abia people, their entrepreneurial spirit and diligent labour practices to further enhance the economic potentials of the state. These, he has reiterated time and time again, will remain the core strength of Abia and the pride of Abians. Signs that Ikpeazu was in Abia for serious business began to show since daybreak in his administration. Indeed, he hit the ground running on his very first day in office. Ikpeazu attacked the age-long neglect of the roads in Aba and others connecting the state’s centre of commerce when he flagged off seven major roads to give the city a face-lift. The roads are Umuocham Road, stretching through 1.7km, was awarded to Ferotex Construction Company Limited, Ukaegbu (1.4km), Umuola (1.4km) and The roads are Umuocham Road, stretching through 1.7km, was awarded to Ferotex Construction Company Limited, Ukaegbu (1.4km), Umuola (1.4km) and Ehere (700metres) Roads awarded to Macol Construction Company Limited.

The rest are Kamalu Road (1.5km) awarded to Raycon, Faulks Road by Ariara (5.5km) awarded to Bills Limited Civil Engineering and the longest being the 6km Old Express Road handled by Irishgreen Global Concepts.

Speaking at flag-off ceremonies for the reconstruction of the dilapidated roads, the governor assured that quality job would be done on the roads fitted with street lights that have kept the otherwise dark roads glittering. And true to Ikpeazu’s words, the roads were completed and delivered in record time of the first 100 days of his administration.

Dr. Ibeh, a consultant engineer, writes from Port Harcourt.

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