In spite of the many challenges that still confront him especially, the stiff opposition, from the two opposition parties in the state – All Progressives Congress and the All Progressives Grand Alliance – the Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Victor Ikpeazu recently told Christopher Isiguzo in an interview that he was satisfied with his performance so far and that the 2019 elections would not be predicated on Facebook politics but on performance record. Excerpts:
How has it been in the last 30 months – the challenges, the achievements?
I want to start with the achievements. We took over government, when Nigeria was under very serious recession and Abia, as one of the states in Nigeria, also had its fair share of the economic crunch. The most profound impact of that was that the major source of government revenue which is allocation from the federal government was going down, so it painted a background that challenged us to begin to think of how best to deliver democracy dividends and in fact, what kind of dividends, we were to pursue so that we could make the greatest impact as quickly as possible.
That led us to the five pillars of development, which we initiated for ourselves. We based our decisions on those five pillars, on what we regarded as areas that the state both in terms of geographical location and as a people had comparative as well as competitive advantage over others, because if you don’t have all the time in the world, all the money you need and you are required to make impact, the best thing to do will be to start from the areas of strength and we decided to mainstream five pillars, which include Agriculture, Trade and Commerce, Small and Medium Scale Manufacturing and of course, we have oil and gas around the southern part of our state and then Education.
In order to drive all these five pillars, we also quickly identified what we called enablers. These enablers were to propel and catalyse the development and manifestation of the so called pillars for the benefit of our people. The first, enabler which we said we must handle was the road infrastructure. Incidentally, these enablers are things you must do concurrently and we were battling to ensure that Abia emerges the safest state in terms of security. We were also minded to do something about road infrastructure. On the first day of our work, we moved to the streets of Aba. The strategy to begin with Aba was to see if we could deliver quality infrastructure in Aba in order to jumpstart the economy of the area and probably improve on our IGR profile so that we can get money to begin to develop other parts of Abia quickly and rapidly.
Of course, you know that Aba is the cash cow of not only Abia State but the entire South-east zone and anybody, who ignores Aba, would be doing that at his peril and at the peril of the economy of not just the state but the South-east. We resumed on the streets of Aba and as I said, we were exposed to about 90 roads and we have about between 35 and 40 of those roads completed and 50 per cent of the roads are in Aba. But I want to speak about some of the things that are unique in what we are doing, because Aba is the lowest point of Abia State. It has flood issues, it has issues of stump water management, it therefore became a policy of this government that the roads where you see puddle of water that has rested for more than eight years, we decided to do rigid pavement technology using cement, PRC and then finish it with asphalt.
Again it’s a policy in the state that you don’t do any road in Abia State without end to end drainage not only in Aba area, so you must do drainage and show us where the water will make a land fall and then, because we knew that most drainages are going to be targeted to waterside, the Aba River, we quickly within the first 100 days embarked on the dredging of the Aba River and when it was completed, we prepared it to take storm water flowing from the various roads that we are doing. Abia State indeed became the first state in the zone to pioneer Rigid Pavement Technology. As I speak, other states that have come into the basket of states that use cement didn’t go as far as finishing with asphalt as we do.
We also looked at roads that are of strategic economic importance. So, for every road we are doing, you must be able to answer question on the socio-economic impact of that road; where is it leading to? And that is what led us to Faulks Road, because it moves to Ariaria, it also led us to Port-Harcourt road, because there is a huge market along the road. I’m happy we’ve done a few things not just in Aba but across Abia State, we are not where we intend to be but certainly we’ve moved from where we were and by God’s Grace, this government will be the first government to plant the first flyovers in the state. That job is ongoing at Osisioma roundabout. The impact is to give people easy access to the economic centre of Aba, because of the heavy traffic that occurs around Osisioma junction.
Our plan is to deliver at least three flyovers, one at Isigate in Umuahia, while two will be in Aba, one at Osisioma and another at Nnentu. All of them are geared towards easing traffic along Aba-Port-Harcourt expressway. Abia today is the only state, where these trunk A 4 roads are dissecting the city in the middle. As many people that are living at the Uratta side of the state, same number of people is living at the Ariaria side of the cit. If nothing is done, you see that highway will become a nightmare for people going to Port-Harcourt to do business. We must ease traffic along the place.
Finally on roads, there’s no other state within the economic bracket of our state that has kept the kind of contractors that we’ve kept for the past 30 months. We are using Setraco, Arab Contractors and the Chinese company that is handling the flyover. We also have other contractors like the one handling Nkporo road, Bulletin and the one doing Kamalu road, RECON – they are all foreign companies with very strong pedigrees in construction. We insisted that we must deliver roads and infrastructure that will outlive our administration, because the quality of infrastructure that you do speaks to the mindset of the would-be investor.
I’ve spoken about things we are doing in Aba, but that does not mean we are not strong in other parts of Abia. Arab contractors are doing Aba road in Umuahia and doing a solid job in Agabma ring road, 10 internal roads in Umuahia, World bank area etc. in Abia North, we are doing Abiriba ring road and we are putting a lie to the saying that there is not short cut to Arochukwu. We are today making sure that in less than two hours, you will get to Arochukwu, which means some people can go to work in Umuahia and return to Arochukwu the same day. We have achieved about 70 per cent of that vision and agenda, because we have launched 60 metre bridge that will connect Bnede-Ndioji-Ndi-okereke area and as I speak, that bridge will be ready for commissioning in the next two months.
Beyond the road infrastructure, what are the other areas of focus of the administration?
We are also running strong on our Made-in-Abia project. This project is our strategy to enhance trade and commerce as well as improve small scale manufacturing, because our people are particularly strong on leather works, shoes, bags, belts as well as garments. When we came on board, we discovered that the average young person will spend 18 hours on machine trying to build one thing or the other only to give credit to the man in China or Japan, who did not do anything. We now said it’s very difficult to do something with people whose moral is skewed against themselves. We now changed the narrative by saying to people that we wear only Made-in-Aba and we do it proudly because it’s a tacit endorsement of the hard work of my boys, my artisans.
I’m proud of what they do. It may not be the best in the world but I must encourage them as their father. And the only way I can endorse them is to wear the product proudly and we have been on that since 2015 and it has yielded profound results. For instance, we were able to bring the vice-president (Professor Yemi Osinbajo) to Aba on two occasions to see how Aba people produce the kind of things they’ve become popular with. Beyond that, it also made the federal government to begin to pay serious attention to the Aba Industrial area as a major contributor to the GDP of Nigeria.
About two million pairs of shoes leave the shores of Abia State every month to Ghana, Togo and all parts of West Coast and this is making profound impact on the GDP of the Aba businessman. So, it’s not something you can just throw away and we were happy when the vice-president, then as Acting President issued executive orders part of which before you can import anything, go and see if Aba people can produce it. He was speaking to INEC because INEC Ballot Boxes are made in Aba and yet people take money to go to China to import them. When we wanted to conduct local government election here, we went to the market and saw somebody displaying INEC Ballot Box, and we told him
the implication of that, because the boxes were supposed to be federal government’s property and that he could be arrested. But we were shocked to hear that he produced the boxes and that gave us inspiration to give Aba people order. If we spent N300 million on the election, N200 million out of the sum was spent in Aba, because the sling bags of the ad hoc workers and the ballot boxes were made in Aba.
That Executive Order has serious impact. It means the military, Navy, INEC, before you import, if it’s uniform, apparel, something to be sown – bags – please go to Aba first. Second is that we’ve attracted by direct sales close to N1.2 billion. The 50,000 pairs of shoes the Nigerian military ordered, if you multiply it by N10,000, that’s about N500 million. The N200 million we spent during the election in the production of bags and other things makes it N700 million. What of conference bags, gifts, duvets, all kinds of things that I use as personal gifts during the yuletide season, about N1.3 billion injected in direct sales. It’s not easy. We’ve taken them beyond Nigeria. They’ve participated in international conferences, not only national trade fair, not only in Abuja which attracted over 40 members of the diplomatic corps, we were part of the Made-in-Aba Fashion Show in New York, where some of them shared runway with best designers in the world.
My greatest achievement in this project is that my people now proudly stamp Made-in-Aba on their products. They are now proud of what they produce. For the first time also, at no cost to the state government, Forte Foundation came and put Aba Entrepreneur on CNN, helping us to advertise the can-do spirit of the Aba person. These are very profound achievements in terms of our drive and our push to broaden the frontiers of small scale manufacturing. Power was a critical factor, in fact, a limiting factor. When we saw that it was not entirely in our hands to do, we led a delegation to Cairo, to speak to Afri-Exim Bank to come and see how best we can unleash the power that has been so generated.
While that was ongoing, again, the attention of the federal government was drawn and they sent the Rural Electrification Agency, to come to Ariaria to supply electricity to parts of the cluster that do the shoes. Today, as we speak, we’ve had uninterrupted power supply in some parts of Ariria that has lasted up to 10 weeks. What it means is that we might as well become the first state with uninterrupted power in Nigeria.
Beyond Trade and Commerce, beyond promotion of small scale manufacturing, we have also begun plans to automate the process of shoemaking in our environment. We knew clearly that before we can do this, we must also be able to build capacity. So, we have plans to train 100 artisans and shoemakers in China, the first batch of 30 trainee shoemakers will be going to China for training before January 10, 2018.
On their return, we are bringing in with them equipment enough and capable of delivering shoes end to end in an automated way. The first indigenous Made-in-Aba shoe factory ran by the ordinary Aba shoemaker will debut in Nigeria within the first 6 months of 2018 – capacity built, and machinery in place. So, this is the way we are thinking and this is the way we are progressing.
Away from commerce and infrastructure, what has the administration done in Agriculture in view of the dwindling fortunes in the oil and gas sector?
In Agriculture, we also have the good fortune of possessing the most fertile soil in the country and I say this because we have the empirical evidence, from a research carried out by Brazilians about the fertility profile of the Abia soil. The fact that our soil is capable of growing all kinds of things cannot make us jack of all trade, so we decided to focus and mainstream a few crops that we have traditional expertise and our people have flair for. For instance, cassava, there is little or nothing you can teach the average woman in the rural area about cultivation of cassava with a little provision of the exotic species; provision or a little bit of mechanization. So, we are mainstreaming cassava, rice; we are mainstreaming cocoa; we are mainstreaming cashew; we are also trying to go into poultry, of course oil palm is a given for us in Abia.
We looked at what M.I. Okpara did and found out that he had acquired so many palm estates, some of them only 30 per cent cultivated leaving 70 per cent fallow and uncultivated. We also know that our challenge is land area. Abia is one of the smallest states in terms of land area. We said well, in the interim, let us cultivate to full capacity. In doing that, we will require the exotic tenneral specie of oil palm, which is the one NIFOR is vending. So, we decided to proliferate that specie, so as not to continue relying on any other source. We set a target of seven million for ourselves and as I speak, we’ve achieved about three million. With three million seedlings, we are now set to cultivate to full capacity in all the already acquired estates.
If we do that, we already have so much left. The second phase is to replace every old palm tree, with exotic one, it’s our policy that our flowers, ornamental trees, all of them must be oil palm or something that will yield money, because we must cultivate every available space with oil palm. It is really a big shame that the first seedling was taken from our environment here to Malaysia. They bought it for ten naira and now you can imagine that they are the largest producers of palm oil. We also have our beautiful story about mushroom farming. The beautiful thing about that is that half plot of mushroom farm can give you a daily cash inflow of between twenty to fifty thousand naira, because you harvest your mushroom twice a day.
So, if you can get a daily inflow of between 20 and 50 thousand naira on half plot of land, it is more lucrative than even being a Permanent Secretary, with average of N30,000 a day. This mushroom farming is unique to Abia. Ebonyi State has come to look at it. Beyond oil palm and mushroom, Abia State has acquired two rice mills, because we don’t need to take our rice paddy. The entire Bende belt up to Uzuakoli is our rice belt and we are saying this belt can give us rice enough to consume in Abia State with a little space to also export to other states. Today, we have two rice mills producing de-stoned, milled and beautiful rice and that’s what we find everywhere in our states.
A visit to Uturu revealed that the General Hospital there is abandoned, same with the Primary Health Centre in Umuakabia, Umuahia. Are these pointers to the fact that not much has been done in the health sector?
I inherited 174 primary healthcare centres, buildings for the centres, some of them functional, some not functional. Our approach to healthcare system in Abia is that we are in need of a workable strategy, so, this administration is research-based. Most of the things we do are not what you see on any textbook, they are home-grown solutions that evolve from our peculiar socio-economic circumstance. We studied health problem in Abia and decided to attack with two strategies. The first one is the big picture, to lay emphasis on primary healthcare, because we don’t want people to come to hospitals.
If people don’t report to the hospitals, then you would have done something about their healthcare. Luckily, healthcare delivery service is measurable. You can measure through life expectancy, maternal mortality, infant mortality, or through nutrition profile, looking at the average weight and height of children can give you their status. We decided to intervene at the secondary healthcare level. There is nothing you can do in the 174 healthcare centres, if you like, equip them, you will not find medical doctors in all of them. And once you equip them and you announce they’ve been equipped, what a man that is taking his wife to the place wants to know is, is the nurse there able to do the needful, is it possible for the wife to get help elsewhere without recourse to me, because I drove her on my bicycle to the primary healthcare centre?
So, we said, since this is the gap, let’s reinforce secondary healthcare centre and then attach a cluster of primary health care centres to the place. If we have a secondary healthcare centre at Amachara, then we attach five to six primary health care centre. The one at Umukabia and elsewhere and then say the one at Amachara should take care of the primary centres, using WhatsApp, telephone, keke, ambulance, the Medical Director at Amachara will be in touch with the matron or health officer at Umukabia, you can call and say how many deliveries have you taken today at Umukabia, and the person will respond appropriately and for the serious cases, they will be transferred to Amachara.
With that, the patient knows the big consultant is in the know of his/her situation. On that score, we decided to renovate the Secondary Healthcare centres. We started with four: Arochukwu, Okeipke, Obingwa and Ikwuano. Within the next 100 days, we will renovate another four. By doing this, we are also taking care of the primary healthcare centre and pointing to them, their referral secondary healthcare centre. This is where we are going now. We also said there is need to intervene quickly, if we need to get the profile of our life expectancy and we said who and who are within my profile bracket: the aged and the children.
We have acquired a property in Umuahia for a specialist hospital for mother and child. Children from 0-5 years and their mother will have state-of-the-art specialist hospital along Bende Road in Umuahia. That will take care of infant mortality. Within the first 100 days, it will become a policy that if a child under five dies, the matron will have to report to the governor and explain the circumstances that led to the loss of that child. If it’s something beyond the capacity of the nurse, the governor will know, but if it’s due to negligence, then somebody will be held responsible. Today, I care about the life of that child we are expecting. There is a schedule that you must report to me if we lose a child at birth. At this other extreme is the aged, 70 and above.
We have a good fortune in the state about some individuals holding expertise in one form of medical line or the other. There is a doctor in Ikwuano, Chukwuemeka, who returned from America. He has been appointed our medical head for the aged and gyniatrics. We flagged it off with tricycles for 17 councils and three Siena vehicles for three senatorial districts. He has already trained about 250 caregivers, who go to the aged person, try to know the medical condition of the person, look at the aged at home, monitor how they take drugs, and refer such person to primary or general hospitals, when the need arises. Two hundred and fifty people now move across the communities caring for the aged. If am able to take care of people in the vulnerable groups, I assure you that something will happen about life-expectancy of Abians.
Is there any policy to directly link up the local government areas in terms of infrastructure?
We have our ten kilometre per local government initiative. We have flagged off in 6 councils already. What you see in Anambra is as a result of an aggregation of efforts of successive leaders and Anambra has had the good fortune of understanding how politics should be. You have to build on what your predecessor left. Predecessor did not build with his money; he built with the common wealth of Abians. This government will finish and conclude what we met on ground. We have completed the International Conference Centre started by Governor T.A. Orji. We are going to complete the Government House started by Governor T.A. Orji. We are also going to complete with ASEPA building started by Governor Orji.
So, governance must be incremental one way or the other, because if I abandon them, what I have abandoned is the common wealth of Abians and that’s being frivolous. In terms of roads, this is why we are insisting that we want to deliver roads that will outlive the life-span of this administration. The roads I’m doing, I want to assure you that my successor will not go back on those roads. If I could see the roads that governor Kalu built, all I will need to do is to build on those roads, if I see roads built by Governor Orji, I will also build on them. Assuming Governor Kalu connected five local government areas, and Governor Orji connected another five, I will connect the remaining seven councils.
Unfortunately, sometimes in Abia, you see elites that are very bitter, that put themselves ahead of the interest of the people. You can see the wonderful example in Anambra. Nobody went to court after the elections. But as I speak, this is my third year and I’m still in court. You have desperate people and you begin to wonder: is this thing not call to service, you insist on serving. If you want to serve and the people say don’t serve, does it call for you to fight? I want to assure you that I have the promise of God that great things will happen. We are looking at securing a $200 million facility from World Bank. If that happens, in two years, I will connect all the councils, if it doesn’t, I will probably connect some, maybe 50 per cent depending on what my time permits me for this tenure.
The issue of salary is somewhat topical. What is your administration doing about salaries, pensions and gratuities?
Government is a continuum and there are four sources of revenue for every government: the allocation, IGR, grants and you can borrow. It is not economically viable to borrow in order to pay salaries. If you borrow to pay salaries, salary payment in itself, is not income-yielding. You have to depend on your allocation and work on your IGR. If you depend on your allocation, some months in 2015, we were getting allocation that was 60 per cent less than what you require to pay salaries. I inherited a wage bill of N2.6 billion and at a point I remember I received N1.7 billion allocation. How do you pay bill? During those months, we had a discussion with the workers to pay them once in two months.
Of course, we have cleared all that. Going forward, your efforts to shore up your IGR depend on the fidelity of your workforce. That’s why most states are resorting to consultants. Your workforce is the people that can either make or mar. When I inherited a wage bill of N2.6 billion, I asked every worker to come with their BVN. That alone helped us to save N500 million and it crashed to N2.1 billion. Who was taking the N500 million away all the while and who knows how long they did that? So, there’s a vicious circle that is propelled by the workers themselves that undermines the efforts of government to make sure they are paid promptly.
The true picture is that 75 per cent of my workers have received December salary – all the workers in the ministries. But there are parastatals that we give subvention monthly, not salary. Abia State University receives subvention. I don’t ask them about their IGR. We give them subvention, but when I give you subvention, you misuse it, then, it’s up to you. At a point in Abia Poly, they had IGR of N2 billion a year. Their salary wage bill was N1.8 billion and they owed seven months. Whose fault is it? You have IGR of N2 billion and wage bill of N1.8 billion, why owing seven months? If your wage bill is N1.8 and your revenue is beginning to dwindle and then somebody opens your books, you have 130 people employed in canteen alone, the university canteen that has no hostel, which canteen in this world, even Wallmart will not have 130 people in the canteen.
I cannot put money in an open pocket, never. We insist you close 42 accounts and create a dash board, so we can see what you are earning and how you disburse it. In the third month of my administration in 2015, I gave them N2 billion. That’s their salary for a year because they owed First Bank N2 billion and the school was almost grounded. Some of the things you hear are as a result of our insistence that things must be done properly. Take it to the bank: all the workers in the ministries have received salaries up to December. Primary school teachers who are the responsibility of councils to manage are being owned three months and I’m sure that with what we want to do to help councils, rather than tamper with councils’ funds. We are the people that give them money.
There is nothing to tamper. I hate it when people categorize all the governors as thieves. There are governors that don’t have time for that. Some people are not interested in amassing wealth. I can’t do something that will not encourage me to sleep properly and I have my children, my wife and my parents that will be worried if they begin to read that I stole. I will lose everything I worked for, which is my integrity. I’m not tempted at all to touch local governments’ money. I will only ask them not to borrow from bank. Let me know what you are doing, because if you borrow without my knowledge, it will be aggregated as the debt profile of the state.
We are trying to see how we can bail out the councils with some money to ensure the teachers are paid. Pension, I can’t remember how many months, but with our intervention it can’t be more than four months or there about and again, the pensioners are happy with us. Before now, we had sub-treasurers, who were 17 in number. It was their responsibility to pay pensioners at the various sub-treasuries. When money is given, they will re-appropriate it and determine which pensioner they will pay. This made people to go about begging, but today, we have reformed the system that people now get their alerts without going to beg any sub-treasurer.
They are excited with this system. Some of these senior citizens contributed to the mess they have found themselves, because the civil service you leave as you retire is the same that ill-manages your pension when you are vulnerable and weak. I am not somebody who can be blackmailed or cajoled into doing wrong things. What you see about salary issue is orchestrated by political opponents, because unfortunately for them, three years down the line in court, their strategy is that we will not have anything to show. But there are seven things today in Abia State that we are the first to do it. We did the first flyover. We are the first to put Abia on CNN. We are first to build cement roads; the first to put three ‘Grade A Contractors’ on our roads simultaneously for three years.
There are seven firsts and they are worried because you cannot criticise the quality of roads that we are doing. For the first time, somebody is putting 6.5 killometres of drainage with three pumps to pump water from Eke-obara to Waterside in order to get the roads right. They are worried. The only thing to say is that you have not paid teachers, whereas I have conducted local government election. Why don’t you ask council chairmen, assuming their workers are being owed to pay them? Are you going to accuse President Buhari for the salaries that are not paid in Abia? Nobody will do that. They are just trying to find something they will latch on.
Unfortunately for them, I am somebody who is so passionate about the welfare of my workers that by the time 2019 will come, these workers’ things might as well have disappeared during the last Paris Club Refund, when it came. Abia is the only state that gave everything to her workers, N5.7 billion. No other governor did it. So, people that are challenging me, when the time comes, we will ask them if they have ever given 100 per cent of their own income to their workers, we did it here. Anybody who gives you 100 per cent has given his all.
Activities that will herald the 2019 elections will soon kick off and obviously, the opposition is already mounting against you. How do you intend to weather through this raging storm?
Politics is not played on Facebook. In 2019, what will count mostly is your scorecard. Anybody who is coming into the ring, unfortunately in 2015, I had little or nothing to say apart from my stewardship as a waste manager, in Aba or probably as General Manager of ASPINS of Chairman of Council. But today, when I’m coming in 2019, if decision is reached that we will throw our hats into the ring, I will come with my credentials. I’m not going to tell Abians that I was distracted even though they knew that. I’m coming to show my flyover. I will show my Ndi-Oji, Ndi-Abam-Okereke road with bridge. I will show my Okom Bridge at Ohafia. I will show Abiriba ring road. I will show Nkporo road, I will show the road at Mkpa, Agbama ring road, I will show Aba road in Umuahia handled by Arab contractors.
Of course, my flagship road, Faulks Road will be there, the shoe factory, I will show the N1.3 billion attracted to shoemakers, they will testify. I will show Owerri road and I will insist and show 56 transformers distributed. I’m going to embark on a water project at Item. I will do another one at Ozuitem, areas that have never had water. These are the things I will show plus many others. I will challenge them to show their own. Will you paste your poster on my street light, if I plant additional 1000 street light, for your information, this government is the first to put street light in Aba, apart from individual efforts, if you want to challenge us, are you going to do so on my own projects or on the shoe factory.
The flyover will bear my posters, those shoemakers that will return from China, having gained knowledge on how to make shoes will testify. Everybody will come with their credentials and let’s see what you have done. Those that will support me, I promise to arm them with enough materials to talk about us.
When you read that your administration has failed the people of Abia, what easily comes to your mind?
I see a frustrated people. I see lack of proper understanding of what governance is all about. I also see lack of understanding of my person. If they look at the circumstances that led to my emergence, they will know that there was something divine about it, because the bible says the battle is not for the swift, neither is it for the strong but time and chance happens upon it all and God will show mercy. The more people boast about their chariots and their weapons of mass destruction, the most confident I become. That a Goliath is now confronting David, I’m not fazed at all. I get worried sometimes though, because of the lies.
Somebody concocted something that I had gone to a shrine in India. Luckily for me, I had never visited India all my life. When I arrested him, he claimed that it appeared on his wall that somebody posted it there. You see how desperate they can be and some of the people who do these things have huge skeletons in their cupboards. They will just write something that I was caught in Ghana. I have never been to Ghana, because I don’t believe Ghana should be a destination. I don’t believe that Nigeria should be importing Alomo Bitter from Ghana. I don’t believe in that kind of thing, with due respect to Ghanaians in their efforts to improve their economy, but I believe there are things we should be focusing on. I’m not a freak for Ghana.
As governor, will you beat your chest and say you have done well in the last 30 months?
Given the circumstance, resources and the opportunities available, I sleep very well. I take stock of my activities everyday and each day that I take stock, each month, each year, even as we are talking, I am persuaded to say that I have enough reason to say I have given an honest day job, giving account of every minute that I have spent sitting as the governor of Abia State. It hasn’t been about me; it has always been about the people and what I need to do to create better lots for my people. I am satisfied, but there’s still a lot to be done for my people.