By Bonnie Iwuoha for Ikpeazu Consultative Team
Monday February 12 and Tuesday 13th February 2018, will remain indelible in the minds of eminent citizens and politicians led by the National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Prince Uche Secondus and other members of the National Working Committee of the party; a good number of Nigerians who reside in Abia State, ladies and gentlemen of the Fourth Estate of the Realm, who joined Okezie Victor Ikpeazu PhD, Governor of Abia State, when he led them on inspection of projects being executed by his Administration across the 3 Senatorial Zones of the State.
After his inauguration as Governor of Abia State on May 29, 2015, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu resumed work the next day in the swampy streets of Aba. Residents of the Enyimba City which over years had lost its glory, as a result of deliberate neglect and abandonment by previous governments, were shocked when they saw the newly sworn-in Governor in rain boots walking in the moldy streets.
Many doubting Thomases and political opponents made a mockery of him and alleged he was merely showing off and playing to the gallery.
Guided by passion and empathy, Governor Ikpeazu recalled how precious Aba is to the State and her residents. He immediately awarded contracts for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the roads in Aba. As soon as the contractors commenced work, residents of Aba began to jeer and questioned the wisdom of commencing road reconstruction works in the rainy reason.
Ikpeazu ignored negative comments and mockery of people who doubted his ability, sincerity and determination to rescue Aba from the mess which the former pride of the Nigerian business community had been debased to. He encouraged contractors not to be deterred but to endure the harsh environment and unfriendly behaviour of some Aba residents.
All he requested of them was total reversal of the ugly and felonious narrative which Aba had been associated with since after the second republic when Chief Sam Onunaka Mbakwe,(now late) former Governor of old Imo State, paid good attention to Aba and reconstructed its major roads.
It is on record that since 1984, no other administration either in the old Imo State or present Abia State, paid adequate attention to the wellbeing of Aba and her residents until 2015 when an Aba boy became the Governor of Abia State.
Governor Okezie Ikpeazu through his immense commitment towards the transformation of Aba, has completely changed the narrative of prolonged bad image of the Enyimba City.
Majority of those who mocked and jeered at the commencement of the reconstruction works in Aba, have sang a new songs full of praises for Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, the only Governor after Chief Sam Mbakwe, that has rescued residents of the Enyimba City from destructive health challenges which they suffered for years due to huge refuge dumps and swampy/stinking impassable roads.
Many of Governor Ikpeazu’s former adversaries have turned his apostles. The Holy Scripture states that when the ways of a man is pleasing to the LORD, He makes his enemies to be at peace with him. This assertion has been fulfilled for Okezie Ikpeazu PhD, Governor of Abia State.
Is it surprising that those who led campaigns against him in 2014 and 2015 are today pleading with him to run for second term as Governor of God’s Own State?
The inspection tour started with the Umuagu- Umuda erosion control work where a lot of work has been done to control massive flood erosion that had threatened human existence within the area. Before the control work, many buildings including the residence of the former Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala were at risk. In fact, some people whose buildings were badly affected before now had abandoned their homes and relocated to safe places. So, the State Government’s intervention was a welcome development which however did not come easily. Abia State Government had to pay a counterpart fund of N350 million to attract the World Bank’s intervention through a reputable company, Heartland, that is currently handling the project.
The tour also took the visitors to the Abia investment House, Ogurube layout, Umuahia. Of course, the State Government has been worried about improving its rating on the ease of doing business. That accounted for the huge sum the Government expended on the construction of the Abia Investment House. The bottom line, is that soon, investors wishing to do business in the State will do so with minimum fuss.
One of the areas where the Governor Okezie- led Government has made major in roads is in the area of road construction. At the last count, not less than 80 road projects have been awarded in parts of the State. Many have been completed and commissioned while steady progress is being made in many others.
Aba the commercial nerve centre of the State is certainly the better. Roads which were hitherto abandoned have received proper attention. Worthy of mention in this regard include Faulks Road being handled by SETRACO, work has also commenced on the strategic Port Harcourt Road not to mention the Ukaegbu, Ehere, umuola and many others.
The underlisted projects were visited by the Governor and his guests:
Aba Road, Umuahia, Nbawsi Road
Umunkpeyi-Amaiyi Road, Umuaro-Umuanunu-Ekwereazu –Akwa Ibom Road, Umuobiakwa-Owo-Onicha Ngwa Road, Osusu Amaukwa model school, Ukaegbu road, Ehere road, Umuola and Ururuka road projects.
Osusu road, junction of Faulks road.
Ugwunagbo Road, Ifeobara flood control.
Among over 40 ongoing projects include Construction of Ozuabam-Ndi Okereke-Arochukwu Road, Arochukwu, construction of Ebem Layout Road, construction of first ever flyover bridge at Osisioma,etc etc.
Apart from the road projects, another project visited which is very important to the State, is the Nsulu Poultry cluster. When completed, it is expected that it will create job opportunities for the teeming unemployed youths in the State. The idea behind the project is to provide a central facility where all those interested in poultry business will come and live. Government will be responsible for the facilities and at the end of the day the proceeds from the business will be shared between the investors and the State.
At the end of the tour, the Governor addressed the press at the Government House. Where he said that his work will speak for him in 2019. According to him, he was happy with what he has been able to achieve in office so far. He pledged to be focused and assured that Abia will not remain the same.
On their part, prominent personalities who accompanied the Governor on the tour including the national chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, Prof Anya O. Anya, Col. Austin Akobundu,National, National Vice chairman of the PDP, Austin Umahi among others, gave their impressions.
Prince Uche Secondus commended the Governor for performing beyond expectation and giving dividends of democracy to his people.
‘’My surprise is that Abia is one of the states that receive the least revenue but the number of projects I have seen today is overwhelming which means that the Governor is working and he has performed very well’’, he said.
‘’This man is a silent achiever. He has achieved so much for his people and delivered the desired goals and projects”, he noted.
Stakeholders in the Abia business, many of whom admitted that they were not aware of the enormous job the Governor was doing also gave their impressions.
A renowned scientist, Prof Anya O Anya had this to say:
‘’Governance is like a relay race”. According to him, the problem with Abia State before now was lack of solid foundation and lack of sustainability. He stated that from what he saw during the tour, he was confident that there is a future for the State.
Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa while reacting to what he saw, said that Dr Ikpeazu has surprised all with the level of work done at all nooks and crannies of the State. He commended him for achieving a lot and working silently despite distractions.
The national Vice chairman of the PDP, Austin Umahi on his own part, explained that he was impressed with the quality of the projects, asserting that the Governor is holistic in his governance. ’’Governance is not about making noise but leaving legacies”, he stated and congratulated Dr Ikpeazu for doing a good job for Abians.
Also, the National Organizing Secretary of the PDP, Col Austin Akobundu (Rtd) expressed happiness that the projects undertaken by the Governor are strategic. He said he was particularly happy that Dr Ikpeazu has sustained the projects. He said that the projects will serve as campaign materials, stressing that the Governor has made the job easier for the party during the forth coming elections even as he said that the Governor is qualified to run for the 2019 elections.
A former gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, (APGA) in the State and now in the PDP, Ochiagha Reagan Ufomba, maintained that he is very impressed and not disappointed to switch camp. According to him, the Governor is doing very well and with more support, he will accomplish much more.
Certainly, better days are ahead for Abians.