You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2021 01 20Article 409088

Opinions of Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Columnist: The Nation

Abia under Ikpeazu is back to winning ways

It may not be politically correct to join issues with every wishy-washy allegations emanating from cyberbullies, E-rats and running dogs of the derelict opposition party in Abia, because such a response tends to dignify pedestrian and beer parlour gossips with a veneer of respectability.

However, when windbags, rant and rave, in a manner to muddle issues, amongst stakeholders in the Abia project, it is very necessary to steer back the discourse to an even keel.

We must ensure that rabble-rousers do not overheat the polity, by interjecting and correcting, bogus peddlers of inveterate falsehood who unleash a barrage of lies, distortions and misinformation video photoshopped pictures of scenery, sights and sounds of years preceding the election and inauguration of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu.

In some instances, you are assailed with shots of derelict structures of 2007, 2009 and 2012 – which coincided with the years of wilderness when Aba declined from the sublime to the ridiculous. Recall that Enyimba City, the epicentre of Igbo entrepreneurial excellence suffered from criminal neglect. All these huffing and puffing of Aba roads, in 2020 been death traps, only exists in the imagination of those professional fault finders. If they had possessed the capacity for critical thinking, maybe it would have dawned on them, that the topography and geography of Enyimba city are susceptible to ravages of nature.

Aba geographically sits atop the fringe of the Nigerian wetlands district. Which basically are areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water, with a depth of which at low tides does not exceed 6 meters. It was on account of these, that a former state chief executive in the eighties was pejoratively labelled as ‘weeping governor’ when he requested for federal assistance over Ndiegoro.

For decades beginning from the end of the civil war, the master plan for Aba was obeyed more in the breach, as developers, sundry traders built houses, shops on top of drainages and sidewalks. Motor parks, mechanic garages, workshops, garbage heaps dotted every open space to the extent the city was morphing into an environmental nightmare. Unlike previous administrations, that tackled the problem in an incremental and ad hoc manner, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu is sanitizing the city with a bottoms-up approach. Shacks and obstructions to the sewage grid had to be evacuated and these include the school road gutter.

Ohafia and other population centres were not better. So when some unwary members of the public lap on to salacious tales about neglected roads, they easily forget that you could barely reel out the number of motorways in pre-Ikpeazu times. Because roads are all strategic to the development of Aba, Ikpeazu’s muscular and near evangelical zeal has been made manifest in this pursuit with the distinctive signage of caterpillar revolution.

In one fell swoop, Governor Ikpeazu embarked on a massive, erection, formatting and construction activities spread over 90 roads, in Aba and other parts of the state. Time and space constraints will not permit a full disclosure because Ikpeazunomics is not all about roads alone. The recent hoopla of Ngwa road, by certain conversational terrorists, did not take into cognizance the challenges of the paucity of funds, and prudence. Abia is work in progress as you can see, from the reconstruction on-going. Just last week the Abiriba-Nkporo highway which had been on the drawing board since the sixties was constructed and commissioned by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu. The flood mitigation project at Aba is ongoing.

At the risk of repetition, it must be reiterated that Ikpeazunomics encapsulates the developmental paradigm of converting our comparative advantages to competitive advantages which ensures that the economy of Abia rests on strong pillars of trade, commerce, small and medium scale enterprises, agriculture, tourism, manufacturing.

The centrality of Aba constitutes one of the core components of Ikpeazunomics. If you look at Aba, for example, it is at the concourse of about seven other cities in the South-East and South-South. It is about 30 minutes drive to Ikot Ekpene, Port Harcourt, Owerri and Umuahia among others. This middle of the road, pivotal positioning acts as a pull to a corporate mosaic of businesses, and persons making it the heartthrob of Nigeria’s entrepreneurial distinction.

Realising that SME’s competitiveness comes with trade support systems, training, and provision of clusters, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu has put in place and attracted public-private sector initiatives, institutional and corporate capacity building, shared structures and technology, and improved access to transport and logistics.

For instance, the Department for International Development (DFID), has been providing technical support while the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) is partnering in areas of industrial cluster development.

The Habitat collaborates with Ikpeazu’s urban renewal drive by providing mapping, planning, technical support for the development of a new city master plan. Ford Foundation has established a robust relationship with the Abia State Government leading to its sponsorship of the Aba Urban Development Summit.

What’s the takeaway from all these? The upshot is that we stakeholders should, look at the bigger picture of the development hub, intervention projects and programmes of Ikpeazunomics which include and not limited to the splendid human development outreaches in the leather, garment industries. As we speak, the automated shoe factory in Aba churns out military-grade boots being patronised by paramilitary organisations.

Still last week, the EEDC/GEOMETRIC feud which Governor Okezie facilitated, its conciliation and arbitration were resolved by the Bureau for Public Enterprises {BPE} The direct spin-off the uninterruptible supply of electricity to Aba and outlying conurbation.

As we speak, 25 blue-chip investors have responded positively to the Ikpeazu revolution in Abia, And we are still counting. From all indications, Abia State under the watch of an awesome, visionary, eclectic Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, is back to winning ways as a veritable investment destination, whose potentials have been integrated into the global matrix and value chain of production, goods, services, trade and commerce.

As a consummate and thoroughbred statesman, the governor has always extended an olive branch to and welcomed the opposition, including, faultfinders, moaners, grumblers for an inclusive and anti-exclusionary ideal government that will move Abia forward. According to Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, everyone is welcomed, nothing is unimportant, and no one is insubstantial. The pivotal role of the opposition party, pressure and interest groups is a Magna Carta enshrined in all constitutional democracies.

Chinyemike Torti is an International Trade Consultant, Publisher, Public Policy Analyst and World Bank Institute Alumni

Join our Newsletter