John Okiyi Kalu writes on how Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State emerged winner of the 2017 Governor of the Year Award from Vanguard
While campaigning at Boys Technical College (BTC), Aba, in December 2014, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu promised the enthusiastic crowd of Aba residents that he would resume at Aba on his first day of work as Governor of Abia State to commence the task of fixing the city.
According to him, â€œOnly an Aba boy can fix Aba for Ndigbo and use the resources from Aba to fix the rest of Abia State.â€
True to his promise, on Monday, 1st of June, 2015, after his swearing-in ceremony on Friday, 29th of May, 2015, Governor Ikpeazu resumed at Aba to flag off the reconstruction of seven key roads in the city.Since then he has not looked back.
Not even sponsored malicious attacks against him and the people of Abia State could distract him from the onerous task of fixing Abia State. He had to fight off more than three litigations against him by his major opponent in the 2015 election, and two others who never contested in the election but were so desperate to govern Abia State by hook or by crook, deploying all forms of inanities and illegalities with the ultimate but puerile aim of arm twisting the judiciary into truncating the peopleâ€™s will and mandate as freely and fairly given to Ikpeazu as governor of Abia State. Such strange inanities included the staging of a second attempted civilian coup against a sitting Governor in Nigeria, after the botched kidnap of Dr. Chris Ngige in Anambra State few years ago. But victory belongs to God who gives it to those with the peopleâ€™s genuine mandate.
The distractions and attacks against the governor continued unabated as seemingly endless litigations were also launched against him to the extent that one of his opponents who is still at the Supreme Court today even while campaigning for election in 2019, is still openly engaging in brazen acts of sabotage against the governor and the people of Abia State.
Yet, throughout all this period of orchestrated shenanigans against the governor, Ikpeazu has sturdily remained focused on doing the work of the people of Abia State and keeping his electoral promises to them without the usual expensive media razzmatazz associated with governance in Nigeria.
After 33 months of hard work marked by second to none achievements as Governor of Abia State, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu decided to invite the editors of major media outfits in Nigeria to come and see what he has done with the mandate given to him by the people of Abia State in 2015.
In February 2018, Governor Ikpeazu invited media practitioners, clergymen, traditional rulers, political and business stakeholders of Abia State, and from all divides, to see his completed and ongoing projects in roads, agriculture, health, education and SME development.
It is only a governor sure of his achievements that would dare invite such a critical, highly enlightened and inquisitive section of the populace to see the work he is doing.
Not even the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, could hide his excitement after the tour. According to him, â€œOkezie is a performing governor. I came with our PDP NWC members from Wadata Plaza to see the achievements of Ikpeazu. He was bold to invite us because he knew he has performed.
â€œFrom the faces of Abians, I am convinced that he has performed. The faces I have seen today, I donâ€™t think I have seen it like this before. Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has taken over everywhere. Those politicians that make things happen in Abia State are with the governor in PDP.
â€œThis is what PDP governors in the states are doing. All the PDP governors are in unison and agreement, standing on our party.â€
Continuing, Prince Secondus said, â€œThis man is a silent achiever, this man has achieved the best for his people, he has achieved the designs in achievements and projects. I believe that solution has been provided by the government of Abia State to the people of the state,â€ he concluded.
Apparently, the PDP National Chairman, who expressed surprise that despite the relatively low receipt of federal allocation by Abia State and three years of bitter litigations, the governor has achieved so much, was not the only person who was impressed by the scope and quality of work done by Governor Ikpeazu.
Shortly after, like a people enchanted by the charm of beauty and scope of work they saw, editors of Vanguard Newspaper who were part of the tour, announced Governor Ikpeazu as their nominee for â€˜Governor of the year 2017â€™.
Even the nationâ€™s Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, had nothing but praise for Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu when he visited the state recently for the launching of the Stateâ€™s Tele-Health Initiative, â€˜Dial a Docâ€™, an innovative healthcare project which is another high for the Ikpeazu administration.
â€œEvery time Iâ€™ve come to this state, I see some landmark improvement or the other and I am extremely proud of the work he (Ikpeazu) he has been doing,â€ Prof. Osinbajo said.
Authority newspaper and Verbatim Magazine have also nominated Dr. Ikpeazu as their Governor of the Year 2017.
It is not difficult to see why Governor Ikpeazu is winning awards from reputable media houses even when it is well known within media circles that he spends very little on self publicity. With 60 completed road projects, 78 ongoing road projects mostly at more than 70 per cent completion level, model schools, 359 new classroom blocks, statistically the second most secure state in Nigeria, four million tenera palm seedlings planted to help wean Abia State of dependence on federal allocations, mushroom farms, poultry clusters, new hospitals and improved life expectancy indices in the state, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu is a star performer in good governance.
Even his hitherto worse critics and political traducers now privately and publicly admit that he is a great performer who has fulfilled most of his electoral promises to the people of the State. Many of those who opposed him in 2015 have deserted their rival political platforms to join him and those desperately seeking to become governor of Abia State have now accepted the fact that they can only be governor of Abia State on social media since that is where they have hibernated to after realising that Ikpeazu is stoutly on ground and unbeatable in 2019.
It is said that our people hardly celebrate a man while he is still alive, but the number and calibre of Abia and Igbo political and business leaders who joined Governor Ikpeazu at Eko Convention Centre to receive his Good Governance Award from Vanguard speak volume on the appreciation of the political elite and ordinary citizens of the state in particular and Nigerians in general who acknowledge the work done so far by the self styled â€œCommon Governor of Abia Stateâ€.
It is also fitting that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu received his Vanguard award in Lagos where his opponents have continuously lied to Abians resident in that city and other faraway places that â€œIkpeazu has done nothingâ€. Nigerians now know the truth about the silent performance of the governor.
Those who are privy to the development agenda of Governor Ikpeazu will readily tell you that what he has delivered so far, to the admiration of all, is only a fraction of what he plans to do for the people of Abia State between now and 2023. One good term, as they say, deserves another!
.Kalu is the Commissioner for Information in Abia State