The Deputy Speaker, Abia State House of Assembly, Dr. Cosmos Ndukwe, commends Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Victor Ikpeazu, for embarking on road infrastructural revolution in the state, as well as championing the ‘Made-in-Aba’ campaign, writes MIKE UBANI.
Given the long period it took the courts to affirm the election in 2015, of Dr. Okezie Victor Ikpeazu, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as governor of Abia State, not a few reasoned that he might not be disposed to fulfilling his electioneering campaign promises within his first four-year tenure.
For the governor, the situation was made a bit dicey given the many distractions to his administration orchestrated by the opposition political parties in the State.
Beyond all these, the relatively lean finances of the State, some people felt, would constitute a barrier to the full realization of the governor’s promises to Abia people.
However, three years on the saddle, Dr. Cosmos Ndukwe, member representing Bende North State Constituency, and Deputy Speaker, Abia State House of Assembly, says he is convinced that Gov. Ikpeazu, has performed beyond the expectations of the people.
In an interview with The AUTHORITY, he gave the governor thumbs up for embarking on what he described as ‘road infrastructural revolution’ in the state, saying that almost all the communities and cities in the State, especially Aba, the State’s commercial hub, have benefitted from this exercise.
Speaking on the new face of the roads in Aba, the deputy speaker said: “The governor started by desilting and dredging the Aba River and few people understood what he was up to. But it later became clear that the Ikpeazu administration was widening the river so as to receive the storm water that had in the past flooded the roads, and contributed to their early collapse so after they were constructed.
“If you come to Aba today, you will not find flood water on the newly constructed roads in the city, and that would assist in prolonging the life span of these roads.
“In fact, all the roads the Ikpeazu administration has built so far are still intact, because you can no longer find flood water on the roads as was the case before the administration came into office.”
He said that in Aba municipal area comprising Aba North, Aba South, Osisioma, Obingwa, Ugwunagbo, Isialangwa North and South, the Ikpeazu administration has completed work on several roads, including but not limited to Kamalu Road, Ukaegbu Road, Umuola Road, Umuocham Road, Umule Road, and Ommene Drive.
According to him, other roads completed are Jubilee Road, Ehi Road, Hospital Road, Ube Street, Adazi Street, George’s Street, Echefu Road, Enugu Road, St. Michael’s Road, Azikiwe Road, Pound Road, Owerrinta Road, Park Road, School Road, East Road and Okwunauka Road.
He defended the Ikpeazu administration for spending a large chunk of the State’s finances on sprucing up the roads in Aba, explaining that the essence is to attract investors to the city, and by extension, boost the economy of the State.
He said: “Once you develop Aba, you end up attracting investors to the city, and that will enhance the revenue of the state. You can now use such money to develop other parts of the state.”
It was against this background, according to the lawmaker that the Ikpeazu administration embarked on the campaign to promote ‘Made-in-Aba’ goods, especially shoes and shirts.
Incidentally, Governor Ikpeazu, spoke on the gains of the ‘Made-in-Aba’ campaign during his May 29 broadcast to Abia people, to celebrate the third anniversary of his administration.
“Our ‘Made-In-Aba’ campaign has opened new doors of opportunities for producers in Aba.
“The campaign has so far attracted over N3b in direct orders into Aba, while ensuring the employment of about 1million new employees and apprentices in the over 300,000 markets around the state.
“You are all aware of the steps we took to ensure that capacity is improved in our flagship shoemaking sector by sending 30 shoemakers from around the state to China to learn the art of automated shoemaking.
“We have ordered the equipments that the shoe makers use in China, and they are en-route. Before the end of the year, we will commence large-scale production at the Abia Shoe Factory at Aba…. We are opening up the economy of Aba and Abia State on a scale never witnessed before,” said Governor Ikpeazu.
Since the advent of the present democratic dispensation in 1999, many State Houses of Assembly had had running battles with their executives, a development that had naturally hampered the smooth delivery of democracy dividends in those States.
In fact, The AUTHORITY recalls that at some time between 1999 and 2003, there was no love lost between the former Abia State governor, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, and the state legislators.
The frosty relationship degenerated to a level that the state executive allegedly suborned students of the state-owned Abia State University (ABSU), to invade the Assembly complex, and in the process, wounded some lawmakers, and carted away the Mace, the symbol of the legislature.
But according to Dr. Ndukwe, the current 6th Abia State House of Assembly has so far, enjoyed cordial relationship with Governor Ikpeazu, and by extension, the state executive.
He does not foresee a bitter relationship with the governor in the future, since according to him, a mutual respect exists between the state lawmakers and the state executive council.
He described Governor Ikpeazu as one who respects the “bounds and limits of his powers,” and one who accommodate suggestions of members of the House on how to move the State to a desirable end.
The members of Abia State House of Assembly, are drawn from three political parties – the ruling PDP, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), and the All Progressives Congress (APC), but that notwithstanding, the governor, according to the deputy speaker, encourages every legislator to come up with a constituency project that would be financed by the state government.
According to him, “every legislator is encouraged by the executive to think about the next generation, and not the next election.”
The deputy speaker dismissed insinuations that the State legislature is a ‘rubber stamp’ House – meaning a legislature that concurs to every decision of the State executive.
He maintained that both the executive and legislature respect each other, making it possible for the two arms of government to work harmoniously towards that growth and development of the State.
The deputy speaker said that “with the cooperation of Dr. Ikpeazu, the 6th Abia House has legislated on 57 bills and 18 motions, including but not limited to a law to drive ease of doing business in Abia; the elimination of regulations that make tax a burden and not a pleasant civic duty.”
The House, according to him, has also streamlined laws on Local Governments and Chieftaincy Affairs, to checkmate proliferation of autonomous communities; legislative framework for a proactive fire service in Abia to laws establishing State Archive, bill for banning of open grazing of cattle among others.
“The speed, accuracy and usefulness of these laws have their roots in commensurate support from a governor who respects the rights of others,” he said.
Asked to assess the country’s democratic journey in the last 19 years, the deputy speaker said that the country has gone through 19 years of civilian administration, rather than 19 years of democratic rule.
“If you say 19 years of civil rule, I will say yes, but if you say 19 years of democracy, I will say no.” intoned Dr. Ndukwe.
He described the country’s ‘democracy’ as bereft of the tenets of democracy which includes transparency and accountability to the people by those who run the affairs of the country at various levels, respect for the opinion of the people, freedom of expression, equity, justice, the rule of law, and the right of the people to choose their leaders without hindrance.
He described the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) as the handiwork of the military, and suggested the adoption of the outcome of the 2014 National Conference, especially the suggestion on devolution of powers to the States and local governments, as basis for making Nigeria a peaceful, progressive, and prosperous country.
“There is so much concentration of power at the centre, and all these killings, insurgency, instability, and poverty would be reduced considerably if you give the States and local governments more powers to run their affairs, he said.
The deputy speaker, who hails from Item in Bende LGA of the State, said the Ikpeazu administration would construct a ring road at Item, and also build the ‘rubber road’ once work is completed on some of the roads presently being handled by the government.
Meanwhile, he said the administration has started re-surfacing the Alayi-Item-Nkporo road to make it motorable.
“Our people have not been forgotten. I have spoken to the governor several times about our roads, and he assured me that once he completes work on some of the roads he is presently handling, he will face our own roads, he said.