BY Charles Kumolu, Deputy Editor, Sunday Vanguard
TILL date, policy inconsistency remains one of the biggest flaws in governance in Nigeria. For self-serving reasons, it has become part of the practices employed in political leadership. It is so entrenched in the system to the extent of being taken as an acceptable norm.
With a corresponding effect on growth and development, policy failures account for the non-viability of most states in the country. Different levels of government end up not achieving goals or objectives, arising from certain policy defaults.
This is a sad reality that has become a permanent fixture across many states of the federation. It is made worse by political leaders’ predilection for white elephant projects. The implications of the situation are obviously not lost on Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, who from day one, made no pretence about his desire to disrupt the pattern.
Desire to disrupt
With a policy thrust that signalled a departure from previous approaches to governance, the administration made remarkable impacts in its first term. In key areas of governance like infrastructure, healthcare, rural development, security, education, urban renewal, agriculture, and accountability, Ikpeazu made a huge difference. The evidence of his stewardship in these areas is spread across the 17 Local Government Areas, LGAs, in the state. For instance, he built the Abia Investment House in Umuahia, and constructed Umuola Road, Ebere Road, Ukaegbu Road, Ovom Street, Ochefu Road, Weeks Street, Owerenta Street, Owerri Road, Kamalu Road, Umuatako road, Umule road, Umuehilegbu road, Umuocham Road, Dr. Chima Nwafo Road, Omeni Drive, Adventist Close, Ugwunagbo Road, Ekwereazu Ngwa-Nto Edino Road, Owoahiafo-Onicha Ngwa Road, Umunkpeyi-Umuehim Road, Umuocheala Road, Egbelu Mbutu Road, and Abiriba Ring Road among others.
Made in Aba
Remarkable success was achieved in his determination to make Abia economically self-reliant. Among the critical measures taken was the renewal of Aba, the state’s commercial never centre.
Practical steps were taken in this regard as roads that were hitherto abandoned received proper attention. Worthy of mention are Faulks Road, Port Harcourt Road, Ukaegbu Road, Ehere Road, Umuola Road. Another aspect of the Abia story under Ikpeazu is the “Made in Aba” project which is geared towards supporting indigenous producers.
The governor is latching on the city’s capacity and ingenuity to produce most items locally.
To actualise the goal, the state government sent artisans to China to undergo intensive training in automated shoemaking technology as part of the government’s programme to enhance the quality of shoes made in Aba.
The state has commenced the installation of equipment for Abia State Automated Shoe Factory in Aba. The automated shoe factory would roll out its first set of shoes in the first quarter of 2020.
When completed, the youths would form the nucleus of the workforce in the factory. Ikpeazu’s commitment to this task could be mistaken for an obsession but it not.
The governor is simply demonstrating his determination to maximise the potentialities of the state.
Explaining the enthusiasm for “Made in Aba” he said: “Aba is an existing brand and we decided to just run with an existing brand rather than creating something entirely new.”
The state is exploring opportunities in the federal government’s Executive Order No.3 which underscores the need to patronise Made-In-Nigeria as a priority.
In the health sector, four secondary health centres have been renovated across the state with resident doctors to ensure efficiency and prompt attention to emergency situations, with four others expected to be ready soon.
Similarly, a specialist hospital for mother and child care to be managed by Abia medical practitioners in the diaspora would be functional in Umuahia soon. This would address maternal and child mortality issues in the state. The reward for Ikpeazu’s stewardship is his resounding victory at the March 9, 2019, governorship election.
Knowing Abia and Abians for their keen interest in how they are governed, Ikpeazu’s victory was more of a testimonial for a job well done in his first term.
Ikpeazu scored 261,127 votes to win the poll. He defeated Uche Ogah of the All Progressives Congress, APC, who polled 99,574 votes.
Trailing Ogah was Alex Oti of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, who scored 64,366 votes.
His victory at the election petition tribunal and Supreme Court were confirmations of his impactful leadership. As a second-term governor, he has not abandoned the zeal and pace that defined his first tenure. Upon assumption office, Ikpeazu pledged to complete 22 road projects in his first 100 days in office.
Consequently, he embarked on several life touching projects including the 30 road projects across the state. Ikpeazu approved the release of N6 billion for the completion of ongoing road projects. The sum of N1 billion was released for the completion of Osisioma Flyover Project.
Funds were also provided for Arab Contractors for the completion of the Aba Road project in Umuahia. The project would be executed in two phases. His “Operation one Local Government, 10kilometre Road Initiative” and “One Ward, One Project,’ programme are being expanded to ensure even rural development.