The immediate past Governor of Abia State, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu has expressed deep delight at the final approval given by the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) Infrastructural Loan Facility for Abia State.
Few days ago, the Board of Directors of the Bank gave final approval for the sum of 115 Million Dollars to support major infrastructural development projects across the commercial hub of Aba and the capital, Umuahia, together with their environs under the Abia State Integrated Infrastructure Project.
The projects will cover “rehabilitation of roads, erosion control infrastructure and preparation of solid waste management facilities”.
Former Governor Ikpeazu notes with delight that this approval stamps an indelible imprimatur on the tireless efforts of his administration which spanned almost 7 years of thorough preparations, high level negotiations, consistent shuttles of economic diplomacy, and sustained engagements between his administration and the Africa Development Bank leadership.
In March 2020, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu as Governor, led a delegation of officials of the State Government to a meeting with the highest leadership of the African Development Bank at its Headquarters in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire where the final presentation for the loan was personally made by the Governor. This meeting was the culmination of several others held over many years and after series of inspection visits by officials of the Bank.
Members of the State Government delegation to that meeting included Elder Barrister Bob Chiedozie Ogu, the then Commissioner for Works, Dr Aham Ukoh, then Commissioner for Finance, Professor Ikechi Mgbeoji, then Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Chinenye Nwaogu, then Focal Person for Social Investments, Hon. Ibe Nwoke, then Executive Chairman of Obingwa LGA, Mr Emeka Ononiwu, a Consultant and Sir Onyebuchi Ememanka, Chief Press Secretary to the Governor.
At the meeting, Governor Ikpeazu informed them that the State had fully complied with all requirements set by the Bank for the loan and urged the Bank to grant her final approval for the Abia State Integrated Infrastructure Project adding that critical projects like Port Harcourt Road and other adjoining roads in Aba will be the major focus of the loan”.
The President of the Africa Development Bank, Nigeria’s Dr. Akinwumi Adesina told the Governor that day that “the Bank is satisfied with the clarity of the vision of the Governor and assured that the Bank will definitely partner with the State Government in this direction.
He, amongst other issues, stated specifically that the approval process for the Abia State Integrated Infrastructure Project has reached advanced stages, adding that the Project will soon be presented to the Board of Directors of the Bank for necessary action”.
The approved sum of 115 Million Dollars is part of the total capital outlay for the Abia State Integrated Infrastructure Project which total cost is estimated at a total sum of 263.80 Million Dollars, out of which the Africa Development Bank will contribute the sum of 100 Million Dollars, the Canada- African Development Bank Fund will provide 15 Million Dollars while the Islamic Development Bank is expected to weigh in with the sum of 125 Million Dollars.
The Abia State Government will provide a counterpart fund of 23.80 Million Dollars which will principally be used to pay compensation to persons whose legitimate properties are to be affected by the projects.
Under the project which is expected to be completed in 2029, a total road network of 248.46 kilometers of road will be rehabilitated to asphaltic concrete standards. Out of this, 58.03 kilometers will be in the Umuahia region while 190. 43 kilometers are in the Aba region.
Erosion sites in Aba and Umuahia regions will be reinstated as well as preparatory studies for the involvement of the private sector in waste management. The project will also cover capacity building, project management and development of social infrastructure such as rehabilitation of schools and the provision of sanitation facilities in schools, community markets and hospitals.
The project will create 3,000 temporary jobs (30% of which will be for women) at the construction stage and about 1000 permanent jobs during the operational stage, 50% of which will be specifically for youths who will be trained in contract management by the Abia State Youth Road Maintenance Corps set up by the Ikpeazu administration made up of young engineers from across the 17 Local Government Areas of the State.
According to Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, “While we worked on this facility, I understood clearly that the final approval will come after I leave office. I wasn’t bothered about that because since governance is a continuum, whoever will take over from me will implement it for the good of the people of Abia State. I must add that while working towards this loan, we faced several hurdles set up by some politicians in Abia State, some of whom wrote letters to the National Assembly asking them not to approve the loan.
Ironically, some of these people are the ones in government today and who will superintend over the management of the projects they desperately sought to frustrate”.
Continuing, the former Governor added that “even without getting the loan, we started work on Port Harcourt road and successfully completed the drainage system on both sides of the road, end to end. What is left now is for the present administration to build on the foundations we have laid on Port Harcourt Road and deal with it within the shortest possible time”.
The Governor expressed his gratitude to members of his team who worked tirelessly with him on this.The former Commissioner of Finance, Mr Obinna Oriaku who started the process with him early in his administration and made presentations to the National Assembly on the loan.
Elder Barrister Bob Ogu, former Commissioner for Works who started as a Consultant for the Project before eventually joining his cabinet, and several others who played key roles in the journey which has become a reality today.
In his words, Dr Ikpeazu said “I am grateful to God that this has finally become a reality. Securing the funding for the Abia State Integrated Infrastructure Project was one of my most cherished objectives as Governor. That the final approval came one month after I left office is immaterial. The ball is now in the court of the present administration in the State”.
The former Governor is also grateful to the Board of Directors and Management of the African Development Bank led by Dr Akinwumi Adesina for their professionalism and forthrightness throughout this long journey.