DR. Okezie Victor Ikpeazu is the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) standard bearer for the April 11 gubernatorial election in Abia State. Ikpeazu was the Chairman of Obingwa Local Government Area of the state and former General Manager, Abia State Passengers Integrated Management System (ASPIMS). He was also the Chairman of the Governing Council of Abia State College of Health Technology, Aba.
He hails from Umuobiakwa in Isialaukwu Mbato Autonomous Community. The PDP candidate has a Ph.D in biochemistry pharmacology from the University of Calabar and was the immediate past Deputy General Manager of the Abia State Environmental Protection Agency (ASEPA), Aba Zone before he resigned to contest for governor. He speaks, in this interview, on his gubernatorial bid.
The general elections have been postponed till next month and April. How comfortable are you with the shift?
The postponement is part of what you see in an event that has national value. The reasons that INEC gave for the postponement are ones that one should accommodate. If you say you are comfortable in your corner of Nigeria and your brothers, especially in the North-east, are in pains, then there is problem. I think one of the reasons for the postponement is the plan to accommodate all in the polls. Patriotic views encourage patience and the postponement will give more Nigerians the opportunity to participate in the elections.
Besides that, patience is one virtue we require to drive the nation.
Those who are impatient might try to truncate or undermine the process but for us in the PDP, we think that it is a welcome development and we are very patient and prepared to give everything necessary to ensure that democracy survives in the country.
You have traversed the 17 local government areas of Abia State campaigning and soliciting for votes. How was the response and how do you see your chances?
I have campaigned at least six times in every local government area, that is 17 times six and I had to deliver over 250 speeches to all kinds of groups and gatherings. Yesterday, I was at Cemetery Market where I had to address over 7,000 people and the market was shut down and I had to walk round the market to assess their challenges.
Also yesterday, I was at Owerri, Aba, Ndiegoro, part of Aba where majority of Abians and non Abians live. In all these, we saw enthusiasm and zeal which give us courage and we are confident the PDP will win the elections but we want the margin to be wide.
As the PDP candidate, do you think the performance of your party in the state in the past years can give you a lift and enhance your chances of winning the election?
Yes. Every passing administration comes under two perspectives. Some people will say this government has done very well and others would say it has not done well and probably the third group that may be passive.
But majority of Abians belong to the school of thought that believes the government has done very well. I can cite so many things to show that the PDP government in the state has done very well, touched the lives of the people.
Every infrastructure you want to erect in a volatile environment is bound to fail. Abia has three senatorial zones and two of the zones have had a shot at the governorship and the one that is left out, incidentally, is also where there seems to be some infrastructural deficit. That is the reason the cycle should be completed and for me coming from Abia South where the PDP zoned
their governorship slot, I want to be governor of Abia, not governor of Abia South.
However, I also think that because of the strategic nature of some of the cities in Abia South, especially, Aba, that we can drive Aba to be the pivot upon which the socio-economic revolution of Abia could be moved ahead. If we get Aba right, we’ve gotten Abia right. Because what you get from Aba in terms of internally generated revenue (IGR) could also be used for the development of other parts of Abia, from Umunneochi to Arochukwu to Isikwuato. Secondly, before the emergence of Governor T.A. Orji, the governors before him all lived in rented apartment. This is the first governor that felt it was time for the state to have a befitting Government House.
Before, workers were scattered at different buildings in the state but today we have a twin secretariat. He has also put in place an International Conference Centre, and undertook many other strides in other sectors that are there for people to see.
It is right to say that resources will no longer be deployed in all these projects already executed and that is why we preach consolidation.
I hope to take governance to the next level, run on a very strong economic agenda that will focus on five pillars.
The first pillar would be the people, competence and capacity of Abia people. We believe that Abians have the best crop of people anywhere in the world. We have excelled in all parts of the world and in every field including, medicine, engineering, trade and commerce, manufacturing, production; we are the best in leather works, best in garments.
We are looking for an era where Abia goods made in Aba will occupy a place of pride in the big shops of New York, London and Paris. I believe we can do it by ourselves because we have the capacity. There is hope for prospect and improvement in all sectors of the state.
You talked about Aba, but there seems to be collapse of infrastructure in Aba. How do you tackle the decay?
The best way to answer this question is to make it clear that Aba is not synonymous with Abia. People quickly mention Aba without mentioning Umuahia. You can drive round Umuahia or one hour without encountering any pothole on the roads; somebody did it and should be given the credit. You can see that Umuahia is currently wearing the look of a befitting state capital.
If the present government has not worked on Umuahia, a new administration would be faced with the challenge of developing the state capital and the commercial city of Aba.
But I am bold to say that because I come from Aba, the city must certainly wear a new look.
Nobody can be more committed to the re-engineering of Aba than myself, a son of the soil, we are desperate to use this opportunity is transform Aba.
My master plan for Aba is to, first of all, underline the decay in the city. The problem is simply, the infrastructural stock in Aba, in terms of roads, drainages, has been static for many years whereas the population of Aba has grown rapidly. That means the population will over bear on the roads and other infrastructure.