By Jude Ndukwe
From Monday, July 23 – Friday, July 27, 2018, Abia State will witness a beehive of activities as she hosts the 3rd National Council on Niger Delta, at the State’s prestigious International Conference Centre, Umuahia.
During this period, government officials and many other stakeholders from the federal and the nine states of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers, that make up the Niger Delta, would converge on Umuahia bringing with it added dividends to the good people of the State.
While the first and second editions of the National Council on Niger Delta held in Cross River and Ondo States respectively, it is heartwarming that the Niger Delta, a foremost and most critical region in the socio-economic and political advancement of Nigeria, has found Abia a most comfortable, friendly and worthy place to play host to its Council for its third gathering.
The reason for the choice of Abia as host of this edition of Council is certainly not far from the fact that the Executive Governor of the State, Dr Okezie Victor Ikpeazu, has walked the talk and lived out the vision and mission of our fathers who deemed it necessary to create a
Ministry of Niger Delta and all its affiliated agencies for the progress of the resource region.
With Abia State adjudged the most peaceful State in Nigeria, under Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, having frontally confronted and reduced to its barest minimum such incidents as kidnapping, armed robbery, rape, murder, gangsterism, cultism and other violent crimes that had left Abians in perpetual fear and made the State lose golden opportunities of hosting economically and socially beneficial events as this in the past, the days of glory are now here with us.
It is therefore not a surprise that having done this by consistently and substantially supporting security agencies and strategically working in synergy with them, Abia State has hosted such other national bodies as the, National Council on Health, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Nigeria Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) etc and increased volume and value of Foreign Direct and local investments, marking the restoration of confidence in the State by both investors and Nigerians generally.
Apart from security, other issues that will form the fulcrum of discussion at the Council meeting are infrastructural development, environmental management, human capital development and agriculture.
The infrastructural gains which Abia has made since the governor assumed power on May 29, 2015, is unprecedented in the history of the State. With over 67 roads of high quality and international standards completed (mostly with street lights and functional drainage systems) and 82 others at different advanced levels of completion across the state, within just 36 months, Governor Ikpeazu has rightly earned for himself the title of “Caterpillar Revolutionary” given to him by the appreciative people of the State. The good thing is that this revolution has also been witnessed in other sectors like health and education where Abia students have taken 1st position in WASCE for three consecutive years since Ikpeazu took over in 2015.
Despite the challenges posed by indiscriminate disposal of waste by some people, the Ikpeazu administration has continued to tackle environmental issues head-on. The Abia State Environmental Protection Agency (ASEPA), has been strengthened with the acquisition of additional trucks for its work while enlightenment campaigns have continued to gradually bring the people at par with the governor’s vision of a clean and green Abia State.
The governor’s achievements in human capital development are well known. Apart from what he is doing with institutions of learning including primary, secondary and tertiary schools in the State, the government of Dr Okezie Ikpeazu sponsored 30 “Made in Aba” shoemakers and other leather workers to China to learn the automated processes of shoemaking with the aim of cascading their acquired knowledge to others back home. This, no doubt, is pushing the Made in Aba products higher in the scale of preference of high net worth and global patrons of shoes and other leather fashion wears and accessories.
Perhaps another key area of development that not only empowers Abians but also secures their future and that of the State is agriculture where the governor has so far distributed a whopping 2 million high yielding tenera species of palm seedlings to farmers out of the 7.5 million he has targeted to distribute before the end of the third quarter of 2019.
This is in line with the vision of the 3rd Council on Niger Delta which has “Agric-Preneurship development as a sustainable Empowerment Strategy in the Niger Delta” as one of its key papers during the event.
From the foregoing, it is clear that Dr Okezie Ikpeazu has largely and satisfactorily fulfilled the vision of the Niger Delta in the aggressive implementation of his administration’s people-friendly policies and projects that has not only restored pride but also hope to Abians, an action that will continue to attract such bodies to the State with all its attendant benefits to all, from the artisans to the petty traders, from the taxi, bus and keke operators to the hospitality business operators, from souvenir makers to shoes, clothings, male & female bag makers to food vendors etc.
Abians are ready to show to the Niger Delta community in particular and Nigerians in general through the hosting of this important event, their ever friendly and hospitable nature, rich culture, and the fact that the Abia of today, under Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, has since made enormous progress in every area of life including those ones which space and time would not allow to be enumerated here.
As the delegates arrive, they are greatly advised that they should avail themselves the golden opportunity of freely going anywhere in the State and enmesh themselves unrestrainedly in the splendor and conviviality of the New Abia.