Ikpeazu is what Abia truly needs by Ojo Maduekwe


Governor Okezie Ikpeazu
Governor Okezie Ikpeazu

Since the Justices of the Appeal Court in Owerri arrived at a judgment that has been widely criticised and rightly referred to as being “fundamentally wrong” by Mike Ozekhome (SAN), I have read commentaries siding with Alex Otti of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), and one thing they all brazenly promote is the disregard for the rule of law, which application was recently applied in the conduct of Bayelsa State’s 2015 Governorship election.

On Sunday, January 9, Bayelsans completed a voting process that was kick-started last year, re-electing incumbent Governor, Seriake Dickson. The initial December 5, 2015 election was declared inclusive by INEC and January 9, 2016 slated for the rerun in which Dickson garnered 134,998 votes to defeat Timipre Sylva of the All Progressives Congress who scored 86,852 votes.

A cursory but serious look at the rationale for the initial cancellation of the substantive election of December 5 by INEC, will betray Otti’s apologists as a people with little regard for the rule of law.

The relief that Governor Ikpeazu has always sought from the court is that the law be upheld. Where close to 300,000 voters are being disenfranchised and victory declared on the basis of a 50,000 margin lead, what the law proposes is a rerun election. Anything short of this is a flagrant disobedience to the law, and anyone who supports such is inviting chaos.

Failing to justify the Appeal Court judgment on the basis of what the law dictates, Otti’s apologists have resorted to emotional arguments and citing a debateable “private sector management experience” as the reason why he remains the best thing to happen to Abians [sic] and how if he’s crowned governor, he won’t go hand-in-cap to Abuja begging for hand-outs.

Any commentator who’s been following development in Abia from the campaign period and since May 29 when Governor Ikpeazu was sworn in as the duly elected governor of the State will know that he’s been one of the staunchest proponents of an Abia that is independent of a diminishing federal allocation through an improved IGR. Beyond rhetoric, substantial progress continues to be made in improving the State’s IGR.

When his fellow governor’s sought the easier route to handling the dwindling economy by proposing a reduction in the N18,000 minimum wage, Governor Ikpeazu reacted by assuring Abia workers of steady salary and improved IGR, which according to him, was the best way to keep Abia afloat. Abia’s current IGR hovers around one billion naira, and for those who cannot see beyond their prejudice and refuses to hear from both sides before penning their jaundiced articles, there are efforts to ensure it keeps increasing.

Otti’s publicists should know that being exposed and having the ability to read a balance sheet or coming from the private sector, does not place Otti shoulders above Governor Ikpeazu. These relative attributes are no absolute prerequisite for turning around an economy. Examples abound where some Nigerian governors, whom with all the credentials, when entrusted with governing their states, failed in changing the fortune.

Those who argue in favour of Otti as having private sector experience and for that, fit to turn around the fortunes of a state, make it appear like past successful state governors in Nigeria all came from the corporate world. It can be argued that immediate past Governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi, did not have the kind of ‘colourful’ credentials Otti’s apologists attribute to him, but he was said to have performed creditably well.

One notion Otti apologists continue to promote is the fallacy that Aba remains retrogressive. It smacks of ignorance for anyone to allege that changes have not been made in Aba since Governor Ikpeazu came into office. Ignorance in that those who live in Aba (who should be the authority on Aba’s development or otherwise) have witnessed drastic changes since the coming of Governor Ikpeazu. The ongoing development in parts of Aba was what necessitated the graveyard silence that greeted the Appeal Court judgment.

It is important that we set the record straight. The silence was not because majority of those resident in Aba are made up of people with ethnic ties with the governor. No, rather, Aba comprises of largely non-indigenes, and so there should have been no reason (whether political or ethnic) for the massive support that the administration of Governor Ikpeazu has been receiving from the residents of the city, except that they are pleased with his performance, which is a shift from what used to obtain in recent past.

It is also wickedness for anyone to attempt to heap the many years of the abandonment of Aba on Governor Ikpeazu, who has only been governor for a little over seven month, yet has performed remarkably well, not minding the distractions being created by the opposition APGA.

For the few who prefer to sit in the comfort of their offices and home to pen misinformation as commentaries on a government that they’ve not taken time to reappraise because of a prejudiced mind-set that cannot be said to have been caused by the performance of Governor Ikpeazu, it is to do the needful that others show facts of the governor’s performance, which keeps winning the hearts of the people, whose opinion it is that really matters.

In all their vituperations, it is comforting to find out that when it comes to the development of Aba, Otti apologists and the government of Governor Ikpeazu, can meet on the same page, and while Otti betrays his pledge of putting Abia first in pursuit of selfish ambition, the urgency of developing Aba is a vision that has not been lost on Governor Ikpeazu.

As I write this, the governor is in Aba commissioning the Owerri road, built using the cement pavement technology, following which he will inspect the construction of the new Umule and Tonimas roads all in Aba. Aba may not have reached the Promised Land, but is definitely not “decrepit, an eyesore and insecure”, and Governor Ikpeazu, the man that Abia truly needs, is well disposed to ensure that this once abandoned city fully regains its lost glory. (Thisday)

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