From PETER OKORE, Umuahia
The Bill to provide legal backing for Abians in the Diaspora to participate in the governance of the state, recently passed by the Abia state House of Assembly, has been assented to by the State governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu. The law now creates a platform for Abia citizens from all walks of life to participate in the governance process of the state.
For the effective enforcement of the new law, the governor has created a new unit called, “the Diaspora Commission”, in the state with Dr. (Mrs) Ngozi Erondu-Ogbonna, former special adviser on Diaspora Matters, as the acting executive secretary.
In his brief speech after signing the bill into law at the government house, Umuahia, the governor maintained that Abia State, endowed with men and women with great capabilities scattered across the world, needs to leverage on the abundant human capacity that abound in the state and across the world, adding that they need to work harder to develop the state.
He recalled that those in the Diaspora have made direct returns and remittances which account for major foreign inflow into the country, pointing out that in Abia, they have made impressive contributions in the area of farming, health, education and industry.
The governor commended the State House of Assembly for responding to the yearnings of the Abia Community in the Diaspora through the crafting of the Bill. He used the forum to highlight some of the interventions anchored by Diaspora Abians, including the Geriatric Care, Training and Retraining of Teachers, Medical Outreaches, amongst others and lauded them for supporting the building of a Specialist Paediatric Hospital in the state.
He announced that Abia State has just received two containers of medical supplies out of four donated by those in the Diaspora to drive the specialist hospital and congratulated Abians in the Diaspora for supporting the effort.
Earlier, the sponsor of the Bill and Member representing Arochukwu Constituency, Chief Mike Ukoha, thanked the governor for signing the bill into Law and describing it as a revolution and a platform that will bring about socio-economic development to the state.
Also speaking, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Diaspora Matters, Mrs Erondu-Ogbonna thanked the governor for appointing her as the chief executive officer(CEO) of the Commission . She disclosed that Abia is the first state of the federation to have a Diaspora Commission, stressing that with the assent by the governor, the Diaspora Law, which is a Federal legislation, has been domesticated in the state.
The Permanent Secretary/Clerk of Abia State House of Assembly, Dr John Pedro Irokansi presented the Bill to the Governor for signing.