BY UGOCHUKWU ALARIBE
ABA- Abia State Commissioner for Information, Mr. John Okiyi, has said that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, is inspired by the achievements of the late Premier of Eastern Nigeria, Dr. Michael Okpara and the former governor of old Imo State, in building enduring roads, reviving the agricultural sector as well as other projects across the state.
The Commissioner stated that Ikpeazu’s choice of projects are in line with the visions of the two great leaders who left legacies in sectors like agriculture, road construction and industrialization, among others, across the former Eastern Nigeria and the old Imo state.
Okiyi who was reacting to a statement credited to an APGA chieftain, Chief Sunday Onukwubiri, condemning a billboard tagged , ‘The Revolutionaries’ with the picture of the Abia state governor, Okpara and Mbakwe, explained that Ikpeazu is inspired by the achievements of the two great leaders and would continue to follow their footsteps to develop the state. Onukwubiri had described the billboard as sycophantic, insisting that the governor has not achieved anything to warrant having his photograph on the same platform with Okpara and Mbakwe.
However, the Commissioner recalled that right from the campaign for the 2015 general polls; Ikpeazu never hid the fact that Okpara and Mbakwe were his leadership heroes who he is aspired to be like in political leadership.
According to Okiyi, “Associating a leader with those who inspired him is a global good practice in political communication, especially when those past leaders were good and the emerging leader is modeling his actions and interventions after those he aspires to be like and who inspired him to lead. That is why most US Republican politicians still inject Ronald Reagan into their campaign materials while conservatives in Britain still celebrate Margaret Thatcher in their political communications. Does the author even know why his own party-men put the picture of Late Ikemba Nnewi, Chief Odimegwu Ojukwu in their billboards? Is he now saying that his own party-men are “equating” themselves with the great Igbo Leader?
“There is no doubt that Late Dr. M. I. Okpara and Late Chief Sam Mbakwe were great leaders, associated with progress in Abia State. We remember Dr. M.I. Okpara when discussing industrialization and agriculture while Dee Sam Mbakwe is intimately associated with durable road construction.
“Maybe I should remind the opposition that since the days of Mbakwe, no leader in Abia State, including military rulers, constructed 62 roads in 35 months while still actively working on 79 other road projects, including the first ever flyover in Abia State. Indeed the opposition must know that Faulks Road used to be known as Sam Mbakwe road because of the work done there by Mbakwe.
“When Faulks Road project is completed, Governor Ikpeazu will consider renaming it after his childhood hero, Dee Sam Mbakwe. Dr. M. I. Okpara’s agricultural revolution was more keenly associated with palm and rubber plantations. He ran the economy of the old south east region on palms, rubber and cocoa. “Governor Ikpeazu has planted 4m tenera palm seedlings out of his targeted 7.5m at the end of 2019. He has also re-launched rubber plantations in Abia State and just 2 days ago, handed over Idima Abam rubber plantation to a private investor with mandate to double Abia’s rubber output by more than 100% within 3 years.”