The Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, has a lot to show for his first year in office. Shola Oyeyipo writes
Long before the first year anniversary of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State in office, the state government has been blazing the trail as one of the proactive governments working to make noticeable impacts and within a short time of assuming office.
For instance, during the first 100 days countdown, the government had so much to show. Even where some states had live televised elaborate celebrations to commemorate the date, Ikpeazu did something very instructive. He chose not celebrate his 100 days in office the conventional way.
Though some could have felt it was because he had nothing to showcase, the governor’s inclination was that there were several achievements to celebrate, considering that the people had lacked some essential needs and the confidence reposed in him to turn around the fortunes of the state for better as quickly as possible must not be abused. Thus, the time was yet to come for celebrations.
For him, therefore, instead of expending scarce resources on celebration when it could be used for other tangible things, he marked his 100 days in office at no special cost to the state by inspecting the projects he commenced and those inherited and continued and that was informative in enumerating what his government had achieved within the time frame and what the administration has been working on.
From Monday, September 21, 2015 to Wednesday, September 23, 2015, Ikpeazu went from Nneato in Umunneochi LGA, Abia North senatorial district to Ibeme in Obingwa LGA, Abia South, and Abia Central, which was practically covering the length and breadth of the state – though a very tedious exercise, it was equally an opportunity to see how funds allotted to projects were being spent.
Some of the projects the governor inspected in Abia North included the Imo Dimkpa Bridge, Nneato; the Obolo-Eziama-Osisinkita road also in Nneato and an erosion site at Isuochi Model Secondary School, Isuochi, all in Umunneochi LGA. At Ohafia LGA, he inspected the ongoing Abiriba Ring road and the Okon-Aku Bridge at Okon-Aku Ohafia. At Arochukwu LGA, he inspected the Ndi-Oji, Ndi-Okereke-Ozu-Abam Road and the Bende-Idima Abam Road which are both alternative roads to Arochukwu to avoid the perennially impassable Ohafia-Arochukwu Federal road.
The following day, in Abia South senatorial district, he inaugurated the Ibeme Electricity project in what was the first time electricity would get to the community. At old Umuahia-Aba road popularly known as Ururuka road, he inspected failed portions of the road under reconstruction and later at Ukaegbu and Umuola roads, Kamalu road, Udeagbala road, ENUC road, Oomne Drive and Aba-Owerri road. He saw ongoing projects.
On the last day of the tour, at Abia Central senatorial district, Ikpeazu kicked off the Umuojima road in Osisioma LGA, inaugurated the Awom-Ukwu, Umusokoro Ikwuano Electricity Project, inspected roads within Umuahia metropolis and finally inaugurated the electricity project from Ohiya in Umuahia South LGA to Ntigha in Isialangwa North LGA.
As at that time, going by the summary of all on-going road projects in the state, some of which had been completed. They include Ukaegbu, Umuocham, Mcc/Umuojima, Udeagbala, Ehere, Faulks by Samek, Umuola, Kamalu, Oomne, Umule, Ururuka, Ntigha-Mbawsi to Ururuka (Phase 2), Old Express, Echefu , Enuc, 6no Roads (Jubilee, Ehi, Ube, Hospital, Adazi, Azikiwe from Asa to East), Owerri road, Mosque and Aba-Owerri Road.
Others are Agbama Housing Estate Ring road, five roads at low cost Housing Estate, asphalt overlay of Kaduna street, Abam street, Awolowo road, Niger road, Umuwaya road, 3 roads at Ogurube Layout (ICC road, JAAC road, Ring road) and Dozie way (IBB layout). In the Abia North Senatorial Zone, Abiriba ring road, Bende-Idima-Abam road, Eke-Eziama-Obuzo-Ngodo road, Imo Ndimkpa Bridge, Nneato, and Okon-Aku Bridge, Ohafia.
Aside all these, the government had reactivated the Umuahia Regional Water works, while pipe-borne water now works in Umuahia; comprehensive drainage and storm-water channel desilting; the Education for Employment (E4E) scheme, which seeks to reactivate Technical and Vocational Educational Training (TVET); the reactivation of street lights in major cities in Abia State and a directive that every new road being constructed in Abia State must come with street lights and several other projects and policies directly programmed to improve the living standards of the people.
Also, worthy of note is the bill he sent to the Abia State House of Assembly for the setting up of an Abia State Investment Promotion Agency and the appointment of a Special Adviser on Public Private Partnership and Investment Promotion (PPP/IP), who is to set up a one-stop investment centre (OSIC) in Abia State to facilitate easy processes on investment inflow into Abia State as a way to open up the state for investment, employ more people and end poverty.
With the Office of Aba Urban Renewal set up to transform Aba from its current neglected condition to a city that would boast basic modern amenities, Ikpeazu has been restoring sanity to the city and as part of the administration’s effort to empower youths through agriculture, 40 youths selected from across the state have been sent to the Songhai Farm in Porto-Novo, Benin Republic for comprehensive training in agricultural value-chain. These youths will return to train other youths on how to engage in commercial agriculture, where there are no white-collar jobs.
The developmental strides of the current Abia State leadership have been promising. The government has concluded most of the projects it promised the people and is seen to be sustaining efforts at completing even the on-going ones. The belief is that if the governor continues this way, dedicate more effort to quickly fixing the system and intensify efforts at targeting the poor locals in the remote communities, his achievements would be phenomenal.
However, going by the ranking of the youth wing of the apex Igbo organisation, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Ikpeazu is the overall best performing newly elected governor in Igboland.
Mazi Okemiri Alex, who chaired the screening committee of the poll, which assessed all the first term governors of the old eastern and Southern region ahead of the democracy day celebration, including Governors Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu, Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Dave Umahi (Ebonyi) and Ikpeazu, commended all of them for delivering the dividends of democracy to their people since their assumption of office in the last one year.
Friends and foes are however waiting to see how he hopes to supervise his 101.4b 2016 Abia State appropriation, which he tagged: ‘Budget of Restoration through Enterprise.’ At the kick-off of the budget, Ikpeazu assured the people that it was designed to create a state in which enterprise and hard work would be a parameter for which the citizenry are graded.
He hopes to cut cost and discourage those sabotaging government’s efforts towards development, hence he promised efficiency, accountability and prudent management of available resources, so that more would be achieved in infrastructural development. But the governor would need to make good, the targeted of N2bn monthly Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to meet up with the state’s financial responsibilities amidst the dwindling federal allocation.
To this end, he would have to activate all the revenue generating laws that have been passed by the Abia State House of Assembly such as the Abia security fund law, the Abia advertissng and signage law, the public, private partnership initiative law, Abia Quary and Dredging site law and others, to ensure that taxable Abians are brought into the tax net by the Board of Internal Revenue to help in realising the budget target.
The developmental strides of the current Abia State leadership have been promising. The government has concluded most of the projects it promised the people and is seen to be sustaining efforts at completing even the on-going ones. The belief is that if the governor continues this way, dedicate more effort to quickly fixing the system and intensify efforts at targeting the poor locals in the remote communities, his achievements would be phenomenal