- By Governor Okezie Ikpeazu
I welcome you all to the beginning of a New Year. I give thanks to the Almighty God who has enabled us to witness this new epoch. A new year is always an opportunity to recalibrate and plan for a new vista of opportunities.
I note that this will be my last New Year Broadcast to Ndi Abia as your Governor. I am eternally grateful and I thank you all once again for bestowing such rare privilege on me to serve you as Governor for 8 years.
I am happy with the reports so far that Christmas has been very peaceful in Abia State. I am proud of the legacy of peace and harmony that we have entrenched in this State. We will not make comparisons but the truth is that it is not all our friends that were able to travel to their respective states this year for a variety of reasons. In Abia State, the streets are busy and public places are swamped with an unprecedented influx of our people from all over.
The peace and tranquility in Abia State is not a fluke or a by-the-way occurrence. It is the product of a deliberate State policy. Policy of justice and equity to all tendencies.
Policy of accommodation and civility. Policy of mutual love and understanding. Policy of political tolerance and accommodation. Policy of nobody’s ambition is worth the peace of Abia State.
After almost 8 years, I make bold to state that my greatest achievement as Governor is the fostering of an atmosphere of peace and unity in Abia State which has enabled tremendous developments across sectors.
Abia is easily the most peaceful State in the South East and one of the most peaceful states in the whole Federation and we are immensely proud of that unbroken record. Peace is a condition-precedent for any other form of development in a State and without peace, no other conversation will thrive.
I thank all the stakeholders, especially our security agencies and their personnel, who have played enormous roles to keep the peace in Abia State. I thank Abians across every strata for being peaceful and law abiding. We will work until our last day in office to continue to maintain the peace in the state.
Above all, we are grateful to God as a people.
As is inevitable, our second 4 year tenure will wind to an end on May 29 this year when I shall be handing over to the next elected Governor of Abia State. I however hasten to remind us all that Government is a continuum. It is a relay where you pass the baton to the next racer after you complete your own circle. I shall be completing my circle on May 29, 2023 and will –God keeping us alive – hand over to my successor.
I am proud of the State I will be handing over to my successor.
I state unequivocally that I will be handing over an Abia State far better than the one I met across diverse parameters.
I state without reservation that our administration has made the most investment in critical infrastructure since the creation of Abia State. From roads to hospitals, schools to public buildings and other critical segments, we have definitely made indelible marks.
Our administration is bequeathing the first fly-over in Abia State at Osisioma.
Our administration has built the highest number of roads in Abia State since inception. To date, we have completed more than 160 roads and counting.
Our administration was the first to install traffic lights and street lights in Aba since the creation of Abia State
Our administration was the first to pay critical attention to the MSME Sector in the State which has greatly improved the economy of the State. Indeed, we launched the first SME Microfinance Bank in Abia State.
Abia State under my watch, is the State with the 3rd least incidence of multidimensional poverty in Nigeria coming first in 3 key global indicators and emerging the best performing state in the South East and South South
Abia State, under my watch, built the most roads to ventilate our markets and commercial centres in Aba and Umuahia thus improving the economy of the State
Our administration has renovated the highest number of schools in Abia State since creation of the State
Our administration will complete the first of its kind, Permanent Government House Complex in Abia State before we leave office.
Our Administration will complete the JAAC Building in Abia State
Our administration completed the International Conference Centre now renamed the Ochendo International Conference Centre which we inherited from my predecessor.
Our administration upgraded the Enyimba International Stadium to World-Class Standard with CAF accreditations
Our administration opened the first Mother and Child Specialist Hospital in Abia State specifically devoted to maternal and infant care thus confronting head-on, maternal and infant mortality in Abia State
Our administration started and completed the Investment House Complex housing the Board of Internal Revenue and our One-Stop-Shop for Investment
Our Administration emerged top-ranked 5 States in Nigeria in Ease of Doing Business
Under our watch, Abia State has emerged the undisputed headquarters of MSME in West Africa with diverse activities and accolades in that sector from all quarters.
It was under our administration that the automation of shoe and garment production was launched and moribund industries like the Golden Guinea Breweries revived.
Our administration sponsored students on international scholarship as well as trained diverse artisans abroad on the latest technology in their craft.
We did not only launch the first of its kind Education 4 Employment Scheme, we prioritized technical and vocational education in Abia State and also upgraded 3 major technical schools in Abia State to support vocational education.
Through deliberate actions, we have added more than 4 million Tenera Palm seedlings to continue with the agricultural revolution started by our father and former Premier Dr. M.I. Okpara. We have also established other innovative agro-allied programs.
Ndi Abia Ndi Nwem, I owe it to you to also admit that we did not get it right in every sector. One of the areas we struggled with was the management of our pensions. We have however come to the end of the tunnel and there is light. We have signed up to the contributory pensions scheme which now means that going forward, licensed ension Fund Administrators will be responsible for the payment of pensions to our retired workers without undue Government interference to ensure a seamless process.
As the Chief Executive on whose table the buck stops, I take responsibility for the issues surrounding our pension administration and apologize to our pensioners who are owed various backlogs. We will continue to work to resolve it until we leave office.
As for salaries, I make bold to state that we are up to date with the payment of salaries to our core civil servants which is the direct responsibility of the State Government. Where we have challenges are with some parastatals, extra-ministerial departments and institutions who are unable to manage their affairs even with Government subvention. I give assurance that again, we will work to ensure the evolution of a workable model to address these issues before we leave Government.
We have also struggled with funding in the course of our administration as well as a few global challenges like COVID-19 which practically shut down activities for onwards of a year. But in the midst of all the challenges, we have still been able to provide the most infrastructure of any Government since the creation of Abia State. We are proud of our achievements and we have no doubt that posterity will be kind to us.
I am aware that we will be going into the general elections in February and March to vote for various offices. As Governor, I am father to all and will ensure that we provide a level-playing field for all politicians to conduct their activities within the bounds of the law. I will also continue to reiterate my call to all political actors not to overheat the polity and engage in actions inimical to the peace of the State.
Let me at this juncture inform Ndi Aba that the Peoples Democratic Party remains your best vehicle for sustainable development. I therefore implore you to vote for candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party at all levels in the coming elections. PDP still remains the party to beat in Abia State and Abia is undisputably a PDP State. With Professor Eleazar Uche Ikonne at the helm of affairs, I have no doubt that Abia is in safe hands and I look forward to handing over to him on May 29, 2023.
In any case, the candidates of the other political parties were also members of the Peoples Democratic Party until recently. Abians know better than to give a serious job to renegade apprentices when the Master is still very much in service.
Beloved Abians, my original post-Governorship plan was to return back to the classroom after my tenure and pursue my passion for academic impartation. In furtherance of this cause, even while serving you diligently as Governor, I have found time to author and co-author a number of Academic Journals and books in my field of Biochemistry.
However, from my vantage position as Governor, I have seen the limitations of a Governor within the Nigerian Federal set-up and how a strong Federal Government support is required for meaningful progress to be made by States.
I know the handicaps I faced especially in Aba because I did not get critical federal Government support for some of the major problems of Abia State because those who ought to have helped us attract Federal Government attention were engaged in an endless war of attrition with the same Federal Government that should have helped us.
It is for this reason that I have accepted the call of my people of Abia South Senatorial Zone to go and represent them at the Senate. It is my desire to assist my successor to galvanize critical support for Aba and Abia State.
Aba is a Special Economic Zone for Nigeria requiring Special Federal Government intervention and it is my desire to work with the Federal Government as the Senator representing Aba to attract those critical interventions necessary for the exponential growth of the city and the State in general.
This is why I am contesting and I have no doubt that I will win because I enjoy your unquantifiable support.
Beloved Abians, as we begin a new year, I implore you to look on the new year with hope. Hope for all-round progress in all your endeavours, hope for a better tomorrow. I give you the assurance that Abia State is firmly on course on the right path. We will continue to make progress and every new year shall be better than the last.
I am optimistic for the new year because we have a number of projects we will be rounding up on before the end of our tenure. We will endeavour to complete work on the New Government House Complex and the JAAC Complex in Umuahia.
Work has resumed for the completion of Faulks Road. We will also complete our intervention on Uratta Road and the Ngwa Road axis. Let me also assure residents of Port-Harcourt Road that we will not abandon them as already, we have completed the huge drainages on both sides of the road and we will shortly move into the next phase of the project.
I pledge to you today that we will remain on duty, delivering projects and changing the lives of Ndi Abia until the morning of May 29, 2022.
I wish to therefore thank you all for your unending support these past seven and half years safe in the confidence that you will continue to extend that support to me until I leave office in 6 months time.
I thank my beloved wife and immediate family for their sacrifice of not seeing enough of me due to the exigencies of duty. I thank my friends who have stood by me and not allowed my office to get in the way of our friendship. I thank everyone who has in one way or another, made sacrifices for the successes of our administration.
I thank my predecessors who laid the foundations upon which our administration is building and the fathers and mothers of Abia State who fought for the creation of our State.
During my valedictory broadcast to the State on May 28, 2023, I shall extend a comprehensive gratitude to all concerned. At this point, suffice it to say that my heart is truly thankful to everyone who has supported us on this journey.
I have no doubt about it. 2023 shall be a good year for Ndi Abia. We are God’s Own State. God will continue to keep us and preserve us and bless our endeavours.
Welcome to 2023 and I wish you all a truly rewarding year.
Udo diri unu.
Okezie Victor Ikpeazu, Ph.D
Governor, Abia State, January 1, 2023