From PETER OKORE, Umuahia
Ahead of the lifting of the embargo on political activities to usher-in exchange of batons at various levels of government in Nigeria, come 2023, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State has sworn in 27 men and women of Abia state origin as commissioners to expand the State executive council, with a charge to be active players in the socio-political and economic renaissance of the state.
He also implored them to keep in touch with their localities as Government will be relying on them to galvanize support from the grassroots.
It will be recalled that the governor had dissolved the state EXCO sometime in January this year and retained only five Commissioners to serve the needs of the state in the past nine months. Those retained are those for the Ministries of Finance, Information, Attorney-General and Justice Ministry, as well as that for Health, Works and the Secretary to the state government.
A cursory glance of the list of the new commissioners show that majority of those who met the list have served both the state government and party(Peoples Democratic Party,PDP) at various levels and capacities as well as at various times from 1999 till date. Critics of the ministerial-list opine that the state government is simply recycling same people as if she lacks personnel both at home and in the Diaspora.
However, speaking shortly after the swearing-in ceremony at the Michael Okpara Auditorium Umuahia, Governor Ikpeazu said the new commissioners were carefully selected to support and help drive his administration’s vision for a better life for ndi-Abia.
The Governor affirmed that his administration is on its final lap, hence the desire to complete on-going projects and possibly embark on new ones and warned that there was nothing juicy in the appointments. He,therefore, cautioned those, as he described it, “ whose agenda is to line their pockets,” that they would be disappointed , but challenged them to see their appointments as calls to duty.
He assured that the government would substantially provide them with the resources to work with, but also admonished them to leverage their connections and wealth of experience in moving their various ministries forward as well as advised them to remain loyal to the government as those found wanting will be shown the way out.
Responding on behalf of his colleagues, the new Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr.Eze Chikamnayo, thanked the governor for the privilege to be part of the State Executive Council and assured him that they would not let the government and people of Abia down. The only change among the five retained commissioners was the redeployment of the former Commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu to serve as the new Commissioner for Trade and Commerce, while Eze Chikamnayo takes over the Ministry of Information and Strategy.
As if to prepare a working-slate for the new commissioners, the existing EXCO, a few hours before the swearing-in of the new exco-members, met with governor Ikpeazu as chairman and produced a new roadmap/ changes for the new exco to work on.
The document signed by the out-gone Information commissioner, John Okiyi read in part: “1. Council approved the bifurcation of Abia State Ministry of Education into Ministry of Basic Education and Ministry of Post Basic Education.
2. Council approved the conversion of the following institutions, subject to approval by the State House of Assembly, to Universities as follows:
a. Abia State Polytechnic to become Abia State University of Science and Technology, Aba.
b. Abia State College of Education Arochukwu to become Abia State University of Education, Arochukwu.
c. Abia state College of Health Sciences and Management Studies to become Abia State University of Science and Management Studies, Aba
3. Exco directed the expedition of procurement processes for the establishment of Abia State Automated Garment factory, Aba, with more than 500 new jobs expected at take off in December 2021”
With the innovations, Abia state now has FOUR state Universities to contend with. This, of course is the outcome of a number of teams of experts earlier assembled by the state government to explore ways and means of harnessing the potentials that abound in Abia state.