BY MARK MBAM JNR.
One of the major challenges of Abia State since its creation in 1991 is the inadequate measures of the previous administrations to establish a strong economic base that would crystallize into the development of all the sectors of the state. The state, with an estimated population of two million people, is endowed with over- whelming economic potentials spanning across all sectors of human endeavour. Notable among these potentials are Abia’s rich agricultural products such as palm oil, rubber, cocoa, etc.
In the area of industrialization, the state prides itself in textile and leather manufacturing products.
Although much has not been done by the past and present administrations in the state to tap the agricultural potentials, credit must be given to the Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, administration, in its determination to harness the economic potentials.
One of such efforts is the administration’s entrance into Aba, the Enyimba city, with the purpose of enthroning the Aba made products into the global market. Indeed, testimonies abound that Aba shoes and clothes are fast gaining recognition in local and international markets, in the sense that traders in Aba are beginning to export their products.
Economic development programme of any government cannot be achieved without an effective civil service. Succinctly, the role of the civil service in the implementation of government policies and programmes can therefore be referred to as the driving tool of government policies. The civil
service provides institutional memory, informed advice and continuity in governance such that for any government to come out with any acceptable public policy, professional advice of its civil servants is imperative.
One can, therefore, summarize that the idea of economic revolution in Abia and it’s achievements so far in this regard may not be unconnected with Ikpeazu’s wisdom, as a leader who constantly interacts with civil servants to harness the professionalism and other core values of the civil service.
In this regard, the upholding of professional values and standard may be seen to be instrumental to the success so far recorded in Abia despite the political and economic challenges.
To Ikpeazu, “if wishes were horses, beggars will ride”. That is to say that if all the monies were available in the coffers of the state, there would be no night as all the twenty four hours available daily would be deployed in the efforts to develop the state.
However, no true leader would give an excuse for non-performance on the altar of lean economic resources for what it implies is that such a leader has either failed to prudently utilize available resources or that he lacks capable lieutenants in the service to successfully implement his policies.
In realizing this, the governor believes in the words of Michael Jordan that “obstacles don’t have to stop you; if you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up, figure out how to climb it, go through it or work around it”.
In figuring how to climb the walls of economic challenges, the Ikpeazu administration noted that the best way to serve Abia people diligently is to enthrone prudent management of it’s lean resources. And to achieve this, men of integrity and honour must be assembled. Hence, the governor appointed men of integrity into his economic team as commissioners, special advisers, and assistants in the economic related positions. In the area of the civil service, the dexterity, professionalism, and expertise deployed by the Permanent Secretaries and Directors of various ministries are also very vital in the success story.
Apart from the efforts of these officers in governance, the totality of the functions of government is hinged on income and expenditure. Therefore, for any government to succeed in it’s programmes, it must put in place a financial system characterized by prudence, transparency and accountability.
The simple argument therefore is that since majority of Abians acknowledge the giants strides of the Ikpeazu administration on economic recovery, it behoves natural justice to award the administration with the pride of accountability. The likes of the Accountant General of the state, who also doubles as the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Sir Gabriel Onyendilefu, may not be left out in this accountability success story.
Onyendilefu’s experience is no doubt connected to his academic qualifications in accounting and, having risen from the position of a clerical assistant, passed through executive officers cadre in accounts, became the Director of Finance before assuming office as Permanent Secretary and Accountant General of Abia State, he has garnered a lot of experience in this regard.
His re-appointment by the Ikpeazu administration as the Accountant General of the state may not be unconnected with his diligent service as a civil servant.
What Abians expect from the current administration will be nothing less than a new success story. This is because of the belief in the wisdom of the governor and his sense of judgement. But for Onyedilefu, Ikpeazu, while justifying his appointment as Permanent Secretary said , “We all know Sir Gabriel Onyedilefu, a renowned accountant in the civil service, his stint as the Accountant General and prudent manager of resources earned the state special recognition from the National Assembly and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)”.
Elders, youths, women, and indeed the generality of the people of Abia decry the prevailing syndrome of “the carthage must be removed”.
They argue that collective support to the Ikpeazu administration will earn Abia a pride of place in the comity of Nigerian states. They posit that the culture of litigations and counter litigations rearing it’s ugly head in the politics of Abia was never the culture of the people of the state but an importation from the blues and should be the cartage to be removed, for Abia is one.