Greg Ibe: My Quest to Serve Abia is Divine
The Abia State Governorship candidate of the All-Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), who is also the Chancellor and founder of Gregory University Uturu-Okigwe in Abia State, Professor Greg Ibe spoke with NDUKA NWOSU on why his quest to be the next Governor of Abia State is divine. Excerpts:
Professor Gregory Ibe has an impeccable record in sharing his craft as a knowledge merchant, which he has generously distributed in the education sector over the years. His track record of achievements is there in the public space for everyone to see.
In his own way, Ibe has made his impact in the polity quietly, and un-publicised whether with the United Nations or with the private and public sectors of the country he has hugely impacted on, in the business of knowledge distillation, such that speaking about it now seems like recounting the history of a past civilisation..
Lest we forget, in the 1980s, Ibe was working with other stakeholders of Imo State, to get many projects needed to put Imo on an even trajectory with other states in the country. One such project was the construction of Imo State Airport where he played a significant role.
The runway or tarmac was one section of the airport he put his skill to work on and can proudly say it still stands the test of time and durability coming from his stable as a trustworthy contractor of big-ticket projects.
When Abia State was carved out of Imo State, Ibe was involved in several projects which were again designed to make the state a model among other states in the country. If it failed to be one, do not hold him responsible however, he was central in bringing Abia State University into a modern state university in terms of content of study of professional courses, especially the Abia State University Teaching Hospital (ABSUTH).
Fast-forward Ibe’s philosophy of dealing with transformational projects and ideas with a milestone impact in the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo in his second incarnation as Head of State, and you would be talking of a man who leaves his footprints in the annals of history in a unique way. Ibe’s civil service reform using the laid down templates of the United Nations under the UNDP and the World Bank, working in the office of Ufot Ekaette, then Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), was revolutionary. Says Ibe: “I did a lot of jobs in the UNDP on human capital development; we did so much on healthcare and agriculture, I worked on export of produce. I was everywhere working, and Mr. President had a listening ear because he knew that being involved in the UN with him, meant that all the best practices would be implemented in all the ministries. We as a people have what it takes to create MDAs that meet global standards as prescribed by the UN through its agencies and as other nations of the world are doing, using prescribed best practices.”
In the education sector, his organisation Skill G succeeded in making sure that all the universities and polytechnics in the country were well equipped noting that Skill G offers engineering and technology-based subjects according to the curriculum of each university. Skill G has done that in education; we have done it withthe Unity Schools.
Skill G, he claims, has revamped the study of mathematics and science subjects noting that, “at a point in 2005 and 2006, we were teaching how to write software to all the Unity Schools and other secondary schools in the country, including teachers.
“There are lots of things that I did under President Obasanjo, and which have proven to be the best way for Nigeria. He is the man who saw tomorrow. I am always glad and happy that I succeeded with my boss who gave me the opportunity to bring out the best in his government.”
As far as the APGA candidate is concerned, history will be fair to him looking back into his archive of achievements especially now he has thrown his hat in the gubernatorial ring of Abia State where he believes he has sown the seed of revolutionary growth, the type of growth he is sure will take Abia to the next level of development that will make it regain all that it lost through bad governance since the return of Democracy under the Fourth Republic.
The chronicle of Ibe’s pluses remains formidable but what is interesting is the fact that the UN/UNDP consultant is standing on the platform of the All-Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) to contest the governorship trophy. Ibe explains this is a divine assignment, a continuation of God’s prompting regarding the work He asked him to
execute. He insists Abia has for too long suffered serious setbacks because of bad governance. His mission, he explains, is to rewrite the status quo on a positive note with a covenant of making the deliverables of good governance to the people.
As he put it in an earlier interview, Abia has a unique positioning surrounded by seven states at the heart of the Southeast and South-South, surrounded by a sea in need of dredging. He adds: “Abia
State has what it takes to attract investors of diverse types, yet we have not been able to take advantage of that considering our enormous resources. We were at a point called the Japan of Africa, but we keep going down in performance ranking by the day.
“The challenges are enormous in terms of reversing this trend on a growth level that will connect with who we are known to be. We did not come here by chance or fluke and if we are not to be downgraded, we must brace up for the challenges of the future.”
Ibe knows what the challenges of the future of Abia are, given the fact he is one stakeholder who has been on the ground working for the state from inception. In 2019, he threw his hat into the ring and was asked to make haste slowly given the Abia Charter of Equity on zoning among the three senatorial zones.
The Abia North candidate believes his time has come. When asked what was his take on the key governorship candidates in the state-Dr. Alex Otti of Labour Party, Professor Uche Ikonne of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and Ikechi Emenike of the All-Progressives Congress (APC), Ibe acknowledges the names mentioned are big masquerades, stakeholders in the Abia project. Regardless, he adds, “none of these names has added value to Abia the way I have done, neither to the infrastructure, nor to anything I know of; they only come to struggle to be in the forefront of leading Abia, to reap where they have sown so little, preparing to rIp the state like others have done. Some people come to take away from the lean resources of the state but not me.”
Ibe says he is the only one with a proven record of having invested in the state, of having employed people in the state and keeps employing people and adding value to the state. “Where were they when all this was happening? What did they do with their money? Now, they all want to govern Abia. Again, let me add: si ce n’est pas du Panadol, cen’est pas du Panadol, which is to say: if it is not Panadol, it is not Panadol. For me it is the end of discussion as far as being the Governor of Abia State is concerned. I wish them well, but they know too well themselves that there is no comparison between them and I.
“Once my name is mentioned from the area of competence, on investment in the state, on having the perquisite knowledge or ideas on development, I remain their non-pareil. I respect their diverse kinds of training, upbringing, and experience but they should know that in comparison, I am quite up there.”
We need graduates who would become manufacturers and inventors, skilled and brilliant personnel taking charge of all the departments of human endeavour. Until we can groom and position the drivers of our next flight to the global village of ideas, we have not delivered.
There is work to do.
At this stage everybody agrees that competence must be the new normal.
Abians want somebody they can hold accountable, someone who is ready to make a covenant with them with regard to deliverables, a leader with innovative ideas in the art of governance, not one who plays to the gallery of ethnic jingoism, of ethnic politics.
I connect with Abians everywhere whether by way of assistance or employment. The connection is enormous. I have friends in Abia North; it is my community, the same way I have in the whole of Obingwa and Ngwa in Aba. I have a relationship that cuts across the state with the children and parents of Abia State. Many of them connect with Gregory University and Skill G, and all my corporate outfits home and abroad.
They have at various times enjoyed and currently enjoy 20 percent of my scholarship programme.
The infrastructure decadence in Aba exemplifies the issues in the ongoing narrative. Every Abian, every citizen of the Southeast, all Nigerians and foreigners who were privileged to dwell or work in Aba, must be concerned that Aba is now a shadow of its glorious past.
Ibe does not spare incumbent and outgoing Abia State governor Okezie Ikpeazu for non-performance. Under him, he says, Aba has further gone down the drain; it has gone into a state of decomposition. He explains: “If you look at Aba, you will see that it has gone tremendously down, and a lot of people have moved out of the
commercial city. There was a time the city had a security challenge, such that many people ran away; now the situation is worse; there are diverse challenges bothering on poor infrastructure; people are leaving in their droves including corporate organisations. The annual ravaging flood has hardly spared the city.”
The state government, he observes, was supposed to collaborate with the World Bank in helping Aba have a good drainage system. With less than seven months to go, the Ikpeazu Administration has nothing to offer Aba people in that direction. The project has been dead on arrival.
“The healthcare institutions are as good as dead; the government is owing workers huge amounts of their salaries, and each month adds to the previous month; it is also not paying pensioners. The Bible says a worker deserves his wage. The opposite is the case in Abia State. Somebody somewhere should be held accountable.”
In the whole of Abia State, says Ibe, there is no MRI, there is no Card Scan. “The former government made all this possible but today, all this is gone under the nose of the Ikpeazu administration. Abia State with five million people, has no MRI; for God’s sake this should never be discussed. There are a lot of people in Abia State that need dialysis, I wonder where they go for it.” Notwithstanding, he adds, “the government that we want to bring in place will address all those issues.”
According to the governorship candidate, his blueprint was released much earlier in the day; expectedly others began to rewrite theirs using the facts domiciled in his blueprint. He had to withdraw it.” I knew that people would start manipulating it, but I still went ahead to release it. My blueprint is my covenant with Abia State. I have completed the blueprint and from there I derived my manifesto, I am sure of every line of what I have done. If you wake me up from sleep, I will tell you about the environmental issues in Abia and how I want to solve them. I have the answer to every human and governance problem in Abia State.”
“For me the private sector in Abia is the largest employer of labour after government, I am doing my best to develop a teaching hospital of 1000 beds. It will also be a tertiary health institution that will support all other health institutions already in existence in the state. I am training doctors today; I am happy the way I am preparing people.
“Let me give you another example; the state university will soon be 40 years old;” it was only two years ago I made frantic efforts to help it open a Department of Engineering, otherwise the authorities were content running such courses as Regional Planning, Optometry, Social
and Management Studies courses, Humanities and then the state is
totally lacking in its assistance of the institution.”