By Chioma OBINNA
Ike Ibe is a distinguished lawyer and former Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly in 1993. He is also form trade representative of Imo State to the United States. As the electorate in Imo state warm up to participate actively in the 2011 governorship election Ibe who is known for touching base with the poor, the physically challenged and the rural poor in this interview unveiled his plans for the people of Imo State. The governorship hopeful says would ensure better platform for future leaders in the state if voted int power.
What are your plans for Imo people if elected into power?
I believe in active and versatile private sector participation as a vehicle for economic development. Any government must provide a stable, conducive, and enabling environment to promote a flourishing private sector. Productivity will always increase in an environment where there is minimum distraction (power problems, communication hitches, crime and multiple taxation), equal participation, equity distribution, and unalloyed support for innovation and creativity.
Therefore, the task of developing our state cannot be left for the government alone. Rather, it is for men and women with innovative ideas, the private sector, civil society, and hard-working academicians. My government will recognize that and work with such people to ensure that everyone benefits from a strong economy.
Today, Imo people are known as civil servants, there are no much industrial presence both private and government in the state how do you ensure a sustainable economic development in the state?
The engine that drives development everywhere is stable energy and power supply. While the nation is at crossroads in its quest to improve power supply, we will make every effort to set up our own independent power supply that will have little or no dependence on the federal programmes. With our abundant petroleum, gas, and aqua supply, there is no excuse to fail in this regard. Alternative sources will be explored including wind and solar. Every community I have visited in America, Britain, France, Germany, Canada etc all have their own unique communal power sources as opposed to every individual house in Nigeria owning generators with attendant pollution and environmental related sicknesses. Even African countries like Botswana that have smaller populations than Imo state have over the years relied on solar energy. Constant energy means a lot in the lives of people and improves the capacities of people, businesses and economies. There is no mystery about energy and power supply, just the will to do the right thing and do it right. My government will attack this like a monster and we will defeat the monstrous problem.
Again, I met with the World Bank Group’s Small and Medium Enterprise Department in Washington in 2002 to muster support for Imo state small scale industrialists. That effort was born out of my belief that if a state wants to achieve economic sustainability it must reduce over-dependence on and over-consumption of foreign finished products by its people.
What is your agenda for improving teacher’s welfare?
I strongly believe that teaching is an honourable, and perhaps the most important profession. In developed economies, no one toys with teachers’ welfare, our governments shouldn’t either. Teachers must be motivated and encouraged to maximize their efforts. Teachers should not only be paid on time, but also receive various work incentives including regular salary reviews, proper work tools and scenic environment, decent accommodations, training and development opportunities.
Any agenda for Research and Development Programme (R&D) in Imo if elected as governor in 2011?
I have a vision to develop an integrated scientific and social basis for decision-making on sustainability issues; develop tools and methods that promote sustainability. The state must restore the quality of higher education through encouraging and empowering professors, lecturers, and doctoral candidates towards active participation and involvement in innovations, science, technology, research and development (R&D).
There will be a ‘Research Grant Facility’ funded by the state and private sector for lecturers and doctoral candidates in our state institutions to tap into. This program will engage a diverse group of doctoral, master’s, and undergraduate students in an education/research training program to understand, explore, and develop ideas and models relevant to our state.