• Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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Abia @ 29: The place of Ikpeazu in history


In 29 years of Abia existence as a state, different leaders have come and gone. While some came as Military administrators, others came as democratically elected governors. Undoubtedly, these men did their best. How good their bests are will be a discussion for another day.

Fast forward to 2015, through a keenly contested election, Dr Okezie Victor Ikpeazu came on board. From inception, he premised his mission on a clear-cut realistic agenda that will enable its actualisation. In fairness, Ikpeazu has covered reasonable milestones given obvious encumbrances. He can still do more though. Yes, he will!

How would Abians remember Dr. Okezie Victor Ikpeazu? What place, in Abia history, will Governor Ikpeazu occupy?

Firstly, as a man full of grace and unprecedented favour, like the biblical David, Ikpeazu remains a man after Gods heart irrespective of his human frailties. His many victories and his divine deliverance are clear testament to that fact.

Dr. Ikpeazu was the least likely, to emerge, candidate for the position of a governor prior to the 2015 election. There were top contestants for the position, however, providence located him. In the electoral contests that later ensued, Dr. Ikpeazu floored his opponents in spite of their seemingly robust socio-political contacts.

It will be captured in history that Governor Ikpeazu, especially, in his first term, had more court cases than any other governorship nominee. He won over 11 cases in his first term alone. Those were obvious distractions that history has noted. The good news remains that he was never deterred.

The victory of Ikpeazu, in 2015 and 2019 respectively, placed him, in history, as the ever first Governor of Abia State from the Ngwa extraction.

To the peaceful, there shall be peace. Abia has witnessed peace and security since 2015. Who is surprised to hear that? Like the governor recently mentioned, there has not been any record of bank robbery, in Abia State, since he became governor. That isn’t an ordinary achievement considering the critical place of security as development enabler and the height of insecurity in the recent past.

Equally on peace, Ikpeazu made it pointedly clear that he has zero percent penchant for vendetta and needless “war”. From the onset, he embraced everyone and forgave all. He believes so much in the words, “mercy and forgiveness,” to the extent that he once preached a sermon about mercy and forgiveness in the church.

Ikpeazu believes so much in peaceful coexistence. As such, all efforts, by political marauders to instigate a fight, against his real and imaginary enemies, have proved futile. He has deliberately, though, strategically, resisted confrontation with anyone, even, in the midst of obvious provocation. He once said, to my hearing, that the greatest problem of man is unforgiveness. According to him, though we all pray for forgiveness we are however, reluctant to forgive our offenders.

History will therefore, remember Governor Ikpeazu as one whose milk of human kindness transcends beyond petty human considerations.

History will also remember him as one governor whose tenure enjoyed peace and relative tranquility. An Ambassador of peace you may call him.

Abia State between 1999 -2015 witnessed unfortunate political gangsterism. The rancour, diatribe, in-fighting and malice arising from incessant impeachments and counter attacks were so profound that factions were created, even within the party, between the Abuja-based politicians and the home-based politicians. Resulting from the rancor, some politicians were branded Abuja politicians.

For 16 years, Abia State was infamous as one state that churned out six deputy governors within a short period of time. The fight was not only for the Executives, even, the legislators were not left out. Speakers were replaced at will.

The peace enjoyed today is not an indicator of absence of misunderstanding but an evidence of a leader with humility, tolerance and deep understanding of the dynamics of power as well as the basic tenets of human relationship. Definitely, history shall remember him.

Ikpeazu’s philosophy about life typifies an in-depth understanding that to “Jaw jaw” is preferable to “war war”. He recognises the fact that democratic dividends can only thrive in an atmosphere of peace and unity, whereas infighting negates progress and remains inimical to development. Disunity is therefore, diversionary and a fertile ground for retrogression. Those values are indeed not common with ordinary men!

Presently, there are no visible intra party conflicts. There are no Abuja factional politicians! In fact, even across party lines, there is peace and understanding! It is common to see an APC chieftain attend a PDP function with ease and commendable sense of comradeship. If peace and unity are enablers for development and progress then, one can confidently say that, Ikpeazu “sabi the work” and therefore, should be accorded a place in history.

The dearth of infrastructure in Abia State, has been of great concern to well-meaning Abians. It leaves an uncanny feeling. When Orji Kalu came, he made some marks especially in sports development and little in infrastructure. Theodore Orji, his successor, also tried his best, at least, he has some signature edifice, like the Secretariat and others, to his credit.

On the other hand, Governor Ikpeazu has evenly impacted, positively, almost all the sectors of the economy: From Education to infrastructure, Agriculture, health, trade, Commerce and more. No doubt, the people are expectedly asking for more. It is their right to ask, anyway.

By the way I never heard of the Rigid Pavement Cement technology until Ikpeazu adopted it, albeit its attendant cost variables.

Ikpeazu was unlucky. He inherited huge socio-political deficits. Both the assets and liabilities of his predecessors were his to manage. Resulting from that, the general despondency, when he took over, was rife. It was not surprising that his emergence triggered a lot of rage and resentment. Till today some persons have remained cynical about the sincerity of Ikpeazu’s administration to leave a positive mark.
His magnanimity to tolerate and forgive unprovoked, but insidious, tantrums is a quality that posterity will certainly remember.

Regardless of the distractions that bedevilled Ikpeazu’s Government, especially in his first tenure, the governor brought to the table the historic five-pillar development agenda plus some enablers.

He considered Education, Agriculture, Infrastructure, trade and Commerce as well as Oil and Gas as key development set paces of his administration. He will therefore, come in history as the first governor with a clear blueprint that succinctly captures the peculiarities of Abia Politico- economic trajectory. He has a vivid interpretation of the obscured yearnings of an average Abian: her passion for trade and Commerce, Agriculture and Industry.

His deep introspection saw to the scaling of, Education, Agriculture, SME vis-a vis capacity development as priorities for development. No sooner he took the reins of governance, than he created a Ministry that takes charge of the affairs of emerging entrepreneurs (SMEs). He called it the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprise Development (MSMED). Gladly, the ministry has been able to interpret his dreams to a great extent. Now, the SME bank is conceived, in addition to some critical incentives, as needful exigencies for the business of governance to thrive.

Capacity development has therefore, occupied an enviable space in the Ikpeazu’s social contract with Abians. His passion for Commerce and Industry stems from the backdrop that an average Abian is endowed with basic skill, either in trade, Commerce or in craftsmanship. It was therefore, a burden, well relieved, to superintend the transformation of hitherto obscured endowments into a veritable means of livelihood.

He has indeed gone a long way to accomplishing his dreams for SME development. For instance, he has trained over 10,000 youths in different set skills both in Nigeria and overseas. Worthy of mention are the 30 artisans he sponsored to China for training on Shoe making, the several trainings by E4E and many others. Today some of them have bagged one national award or another. Just recently, an automated shoe factory was built and equipped to enable those trained and others to have a place to practise and commercialise their skills.

He has equally championed the promotion of made in Aba products. Today some products from Aba, like the well-designed clothing, safety shoes and so much more, have been exported outside the shores of Abia State and Nigeria. The confidence of an average Aba entrepreneur is reinforced. Thanks to the interventions of Governor Ikpeazu.

The Enyimba Economic city is another ambitious, though gigantic, project initiated by Ikpeazu that history can’t flip through. Although the project has not been achieved 100% its actuation, it represents the visions and intellectual depth of the “Scholar in Government.” The project is not only timeless, it also captures the industrial destination of a 21st century man. It is more than an Industrial hub. It is an Industrial haven! When completed, Enyimba economic city, which seats on 9,803 hectares of land, will have the potential to create over 700,000 jobs.

Contrary to the unsolicited projections of nay Sayers, EEC will definitely come through. It is a long-term sustainable venture, so Ikpeazu may not be the one to complete it but his inputs, so far, shall form the basic framework for future activities.

Without yielding to an urge to repeat the array of infrastructural investments made so far in Abia State, I will however, spare a mention to the seemingly intractable Ife Obara debacle that resisted every previous effort to bring lasting cure to. Today the Osusu, Ama Ogbonna axis of Aba as well as the Faulks roads have succumbed to the superior technological prowess of Ikpeazu and his team.

Someone may think that I will skip the ongoing Osisioma project sorry I won’t. The flyover is a signature project of this administration that must be completed. When completed, it will stick, in history, as the first flyover to be constructed in Abia State. Though the completion has lingered for reasons the Government has repeatedly explained, but one should, regardless, salute the courage of the Governor to have, even, initiated such an ambitious project considering Abia peculiarities.

Will the limitations of space allow me, I would have mentioned the Osikapa Abia rice revolution, the Tenares Palm discoveries, the Poultry clusters, the Tele-health care facility and other germane economic milestones that were never thought of, never imagined and never ever seen in Abia State.
Ikpeazu is a pace setter and a trail blazer.

Onyenma is of Agudo Services Limited 54 Aba Road Port Harcourt Mobile Line:234-0-703-491-8035 234-0-803-310-5084 Office:234-84-793869 Email:agudo [email protected] WEB SITE:www.agudoservices.com