By Chinyemike Torti
An inquest into the unravelling and decline of opposition politics in Abia, reveals the declivity of the momentum, and fortunes of APGA- a party whose founding fathers, fed egregiously on enclave politics, nepotism and ethno-tribal chauvinism. These were in the main rookie politicians, bereft of the ability to organize themselves and, intellectually barren to forge critical platforms for electoral politics. Their head honcho, the erstwhile money changer at a commercial bank that carved a niche for himself in the heroic book of gubernatorial failures in 2015 seems to be poised for another disastrous outing. We hear from political analysts, that he is entertaining himself with the fantasy of being sworn in 2019.
It’s a delusion that is dead on arrival, because the platform he contested last has disintegrated as the forces of gravity has sent them tumbling to earth. Apart from the fact that APGA is bereft of development footprints in Abia, you begin to wonder what narrative they have got offer, when you juxtapose their bare presence, with the giant strides of Dr Okezie Ikpeazu who on being sworn in, hit the ground running, pioneering THE CATERPILLAR revolution -an audacious, vigorous engagement to endow Ndi Abia with top of the range, sustainable well paved roads.
As soon as he was sworn in, his trajectory for development which rested on the five schema of agriculture, education, infrastructure, trade, and commerce as well as oil and gas roared off in full steam. On his first working day, Monday, June 1, 2015, he flagged off seven roads within the Aba metropolis. By the next day, Tuesday, June 2, 2015, he reverted to Umuahia where 3 roads, were flagged off.
As we speak, over 60 roads in the three Senatorial Zones of Abia State have been completed; 30 of which have been commissioned and opened for use. Translating to an average of 2 roads per month, which is an exceptional feat in the annals of the State. Okezie Ikpeazu’s CATERPILLAR revolution ushered in its wake the rigid pavement cement technology which he pioneered in Nigeria. The implication of this is that most of the roads built, will last for a minimum of 30 years before they require rehabilitation.
Within the period under review, 3 bridges have also been completed which have ensured access to hitherto locked-in communities and created a new lease of life for those living in the corridor where the roads and bridges are located. For the sake of clarity, the successfully completed roads include: Kamalu Street, Ukaegbu Road, Umuola Road, Ehere Road, Umuocham Road, MCC/Umuojima Road, Oomne Drive, Owerri Road, Echefu Street, ENUC Road, Hospital Road, Jubilee Road, St. Michaels Road, Azikiwe Road, East Road, Park Road, School Road, Pond Road, Okwunka Road, Cameroun Road, Queens Road Owerrinta Road, Kaduna Street, Abam Road, Awolowo Street, Umuwaya Road, Road II, Federal Low-Cost Housing Estate, Niger Road, Uwalaka Street, Spur to Factory Road, Reconstruction of Okon-Aku Main Bridge in Ohafia, Reconstruction of Imo-NdiNkpa Bridge, Umunneochi LGA.
All these sterling achievements are visibly located in the public domain. All the contractors are time tested, blue chip companies which include ARAB CONTRACTORS handling the dualization of Umuahia –Ubakala road.
In the area of medicare programs, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, has gone beyond the call of duty by releasing funds for the total rehabilitation, reconstruction and upgrading of all the Schools of Nursing in Abia State. Consequently, the School of Midwifery Abiriba and the Schools of Nursing at Aba, Umuahia and Amachara were upgraded leading to their accreditation by the Midwifery and Nursing Council of Nigeria. Admission into these institutions have since resumed.
Okezie’s administration went into partnership with the MTN Foundation to fund the reduction of maternal and infant mortality and morbidity in the state. Under this arrangement, the maternal wards of 4 General Hospitals were equipped and upgraded. They are Abia State Specialist and Diagnostic Centre, Umuahia, Abia State University Teaching Hospital, Aba, General Hospital Okpuala Ngwa and Cottage Hospital, Owaza. The infrastructural upgrade at the Abia State University Teaching Hospital, and Maternal and Child Health Complex at the Hospital have been completed.
As the chief salesman and patron-saint of Made-in-Aba-Goods, Governor Ikpeazu has repositioned Abia in the global matrix of production, finance and markets. Just as his monuments in the areas of commerce et al, have been made manifest in the construction of 165,000-capacity poultry processing plant at Umuosu, two units ditto for Abia North and South have been erected. 300 young Abia farmers benefited from N2.5m per person grant as part of Farmpreneur project of World Bank (FADAMA). In academics Abia state has trumped the rest of the country by staying on top of the pack in WAEC and NECO examinations for three consecutive years. This achievement was a product of conscious reengineering in the educational subsector. Sampler: 32 schools across the three geopolitical zones were modernized and rejuvenated and provision of new water boreholes.
School fees at Abia State University, Abia Polytechnic and College of Education Arochukwu were slashed. Aba glass factory is on the verge of roaring into life again. As a boon for Dr. Okezie’s proactive disposition, the Federal Government has lent support for MSMEs at Aba as illustrated with thousands of orders from the Nigerian military for Aba-made shoes and uniforms in the region of N3billion.
Under Dr Okezie’s watch, Abia collaborated with Ford Foundation on strategies to access the overseas markets for Made-In-Aba brands pro bono. He empowered 1,000 Abians through the Government Enterprise Empowerment Programme (GEEP), that provides up to N100, 000 each to selected Abians. He in the same vein, supported the South-East Entrepreneurship Development Centre with a N100m take-off grant to help young entrepreneurs.
The Chinese and Asiatic countries have entered into a technical partnership and personnel exchange program with Abia state to boost the capacity of technicians, artisans and SME’s in line with global best practices.
All these mileage Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, notched up in spite of being distracted for two years with wild cat law suits at the election tribunals.
The above is just a snap shot capture of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu’s two and half years, action driven manifest dividends of democracy delivery.
Chinyemike Torti is a management consultant and public policy analyst