From PETER OKORE, Umuahia
Abia state governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu has used the occasion of a State Radio, Broadcasting Corporation of Abia state, BCA , Audience public participation programme,” Insight” monitored in Umuahia, to present his scorecard of his administration in his six years governance of the state and projects his vision for his people.
He said that since assumption of office in 2015, his administration has focused on prioritising what is best for the people, stressing that such informed his decision to focus attention on the development of Aba as the commercial nerve-centre of the state “and the hen that lays the golden egg.”
He said that despite the economic challenges confronting the nation, his decision to harness the ingenuity and creativity of Abia citizens are gradually paying- off as Abia has become the Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) capital of Nigeria.
According to Ikpeazu, if the right developmental structures are fully put in place and feasibility studies on the projects implemented to the fullest, Abia will soon be free from dependence on federal allocations for her services, because of the huge revenues that will be generated from the Enyimba City.
In answer to a question from the audience, the governor declared that the decision of the state government to totally reconstruct the popular Ngwa Road Market in Aba was informed by the need to save the people living in the commercial city from impending doom.
He explained that traders in the market were in the habit of bringing out their wares to the adjourning streets to sell, thereby blocking the roads and exposing both the traders, their clients, passersby and motorists to danger.
Similarly, Ikpeazu stated that his government will also reconstruct the Ariaria International Market as well as Eziukwu Market to make the markets meet international standards and tastes.
He, however, vowed that no trader would be asked to pay any amount to repossess their shops, adding that an inconvenience allowance will even be paid to them for the inconveniences suffered while the reconstruction lasted.
His words, “In the next 20 to 30 years, my vision is that we’ll have a state that will no longer be going to Abuja for allocation and if that is to be possible, then we need to begin to do something intentional about the economy of the state and economic activity around the economic nerve centre which is Aba; that is why we have decided to pay such attention to the place.
“We also decided to mainstream those things which we can do better than other people and it is clear now that we are the best.”
According to him, “Abia has remained the SMEs capital of Nigeria since the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibajo pronounced us so in 2016 based on requisite economic indices. Abia also won an Award for being in the top five among other states of the federation in the Ease of Doing Business category, while we were number three in the Foreign Direct Investment category, as well as third only to Lagos and Abuja as recently pronounced.
“Even those who do not like us have come to realise that the narratives have changed. Today, when you introduce yourself as an Abian, you can no longer be associated with Osisikanku. No, you will more likely be associated with what you can do in terms of shoes, bags, or the garments, the beautiful dresses we wear, or a resilient entrepreneur, or a potential one; someone who works, somebody prepared to make contributions to the economic growth of this country.”
On the criticisms that trail his administration, Ikpeazu re-emphasised that criticisms make his administration to perform better; saying that this is why the state has benchmarked its average in terms of performance, higher than the national average.
On education, the governor explained that Abia’s narrative is strong enough to stand on its own, revealing that his administration has built over 650 classroom blocks, four model schools; established a Teacher Continuing Education Centre that trains and retrains teachers, and has maintained a leading position in education.
“The icing on the cake is that this government is sending 50 young Abians abroad for higher education, in spite the inflation in the nation’s economy”.