By Ikechukwu Iroha.
Do not expect the Presidency to criticize the Governor of Abia State Okezie Ikpeazu Ph.d or openly deny him support on the basis of party politics.
While APC leaders in Abia State were junketing about, telling lies, criticizing Ikpeazu’s policies, The Vice Prof. Yemi Osinbajo saw in him a man that has the understanding of the problems of his people as well as passion to bring solutions.
Ikpeazu can identify with anybody as long as it will bring something tangible to Abia State.
It was Ikpeazu’s drive for made in Aba that got the attention of the Vice President when the effort of the Governor was already on CNN sponsored solely by an Abian to drive the narrative of the “I can do spirit” of our people on areas where we have competitive and comparative advantage over other states.
Vice President fully identified with the project, launched the MSME clinic in recognition of Aba as the manufacturing hub of Nigeria.
Ikpeazu took a step further by presenting to the Vice President our power challenge at Ariaria market and that Aba can only function effectively once the electricity issue is sorted out.. Already, Military, NYSC, ICPC and other agencies of the Federal Government had queued to identify with the innovations in Abia State. They reached to Dr. Ikpeazu who had exposed the entrepreneurs by wearing their garments to National and State functions as well as organizing exhibitions in Abuja, NewYork and other various city centers on how booths and uniforms could be made in Aba. We all know the story of how patronage for made in Aba has increased with global leaders from developed countries reaching out to Ikpeazu to tap from his knowledge.
Gov. Ikpeazu brought Osibanjo to Ariaria and had interactions with stakeholders which later led to a follow up plans for the electrification projects. For the first time, 2018 budget presentation had a specific mention of Aba and the Federal Government’s plan to consolidate on the efforts of Ikpeazu for the Aba traders.
It was in one of those outings that Prof Osibanjo said that “Each time I visit Abia, I see something new, something different and something innovative. I am proud of Governor Ikpeazu and the passion he brings to governance. Perhaps, the greatest thing he has done, in my view, is the wonderful collaboration he engineers between the federal government and Abia State”.
Prof. Osinbajo became our regular visitor, our development partner and our good friend. It was in the one of the meeting that the deal was struck that the state Government will work with the agency in charge of rural electrification to power centres of production in Aba starting with the Ariaria International Market.
This was followed up with a visit by the team from Rural Electrification Agency led by the Managing Director Mrs Damilola Ogunbiyi to the Governor with the engineering company Total Energy Ltd.
At the Aba Chamber of Commerce, I joined the team to a stakeholders meeting before we moved to Ariaria international market alongside Barr.Sam Hart, Mr Chinenye Nwogu and other journalists. The interaction was fruitful as we can see today.
I was closely interacting with Dr.Tochukwu, one of the aides of the Vice President on power, who I later saw off at the Owerri airport after the meeting at Ariaria . Tochi said ” Your Governor is a good man, each time he comes to see the VP, it must be about Aba, Ariaria, power, markets, promotions. Our boss enjoys having him around. He is so brilliant” I smiled. I was so proud of my position as an aide to the man described as a mobile encyclopedia.
Today, we have a power plant that will power the entire market.
When FG launched the free schools feeding programme for pupils in primary 1-3, it was only in Abia State that the State government took it to another level by providing resources that cater for Primary 4-6 covering the entire primary school pupils. It was domiciled with Wife of the Governor’s office and the intervention from Abia State got commendations from the Federal Government. Just last month, Prof. Osinbajo praised the efforts of the State when Mr Chinenye Nwogu presented figures and statistics on how the programme increased school enrolment in Abia and created hundreds of thousands of employment by empowering private cooks in the State who feed the various primary schools.
It was Ikpeazu’s effort that has almost resuscitated Golden Guinea. When that happens as we expect their first bottle after closure for over 15 years, APC in Abia State will start to claim what they were never a part of. It was Prof.Osibanjo that came to the rescue when Dr. Ikpeazu took the problems of Golden Guinea to him as someone who has vowed to make sure moribund industries are resuscitated. Bank of Industry was directed to provide funds to the Golden Guinea after various processes were certified by the company and the Governor who stood as an arrow head. The good news is that Golden Guinea secured the facility running into billions and had since deployed the fund by replacing the bad machines with modern technologies, renovate offices, awaiting reopening and production. Abians will be employed in their numbers.
African Development Bank (AFDB) has started the process and bidding towards $100m funding of contractors for 500km road projects in Abia starting from this quarter.
When oppositions wrote to AFDB and Federal Ministry of finance to stop the facility from getting to Abia State, they were afraid that 500km of roads done under Ikpeazu will bring commendations. They were ignored by FG and AFDB and were told in specifics that the plan is to be commended. Major cities were developed with such rare opening.
Abia under Ikpeazu through payment of counterpart fund running into billions to various institutions has started reaping the benefits. Today, Newmap is completing a 20km road in Umuahia, erosion control running into billions has been completed at various sites including Umuagu/Isingwu in Umuahia.
Recall also that Presidency eulogized Dr.Ikpeazu for his idea on Enyimba Economic City which has already gone beyond documentary stage to implementation Stage. Federal Government had approved also the Free trade zone licence for the City after satisfying all the requirements including paying $600k for the licence. Federal government has also made commitments to support what is termed the biggest Economic network in the entire Southeast. Such idea could only come from an achiever Dr. Ikpeazu.
Power generation for the entire Abia has also been tackled with Ruyi group from China investing heavily into Geometric power project after various deliberations between the Ruyi group and Ikpeazu was sealed successfully.
Ikpeazu has continued to attract accolades. Recently, he travelled to Egypt on the invitation of Afreximbank alongside the Vice President Prof Osinbajo. The global bank also financed some entrepreneurs discovered through the efforts of the made in Aba drive by Ikpeazu to participate in the foreign exhibition. Abia will become the first State to commission the first ever automated shoe making factory within the first quarter. That is also an idea nurtured and financed by Ikpeazu to improve on the lives of Abians.
Last year, Federal Government through the Office of the Vice President began the annual national MSME awards to Individuals, bodies, agencies and States that have impacted the growth of MSME sector. During that event Governor Ikpeazu’s MSME efforts received serious accolades and an award as the Best Governor in MSME. The award given by the Vice President is an obvious endorsement by the APC led federal government of the leadership capacity of OVI
The truth is, the Presidency going by their close collaboration with Ikpeazu has not seen any match to the visionary leader. Could that be why Presidency distanced themselves from the APC rally? It may not be far from the truth.
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