Saturday, August 27, 2016 8:36 am
By Okezie Ikpeazu
My good people of Abia State.
It is with a heart of immense gratitude to God almighty that I address you all today on the occasion of the 25thanniversary of the creation of our state.
Without a doubt, 25 years is a milestone. At 25, it is time for us to take stock and review where we are coming from while setting a clear agenda for where we are going to. Our founding fathers had lofty aspirations for Abia State upon creation. While we have not fulfilled all of their aspirations, we have made remarkable progress.
I have no doubt that the founding fathers of Abia State would be glad to know that today, a man from the Ukwa Ngwa axis of Abia State is the Governor of Abia State in keeping with their aspiration for just and equitable distribution of political power in Abia State. I consider it a major milestone because by this singular action, every Abian from all the quarters of the State can confidently aspire to the leadership of this state in the full knowledge that they enjoy the full rights and benefits of an egalitarian state united by a shared history and confidently marching towards a shared future.
Beloved Abians, as we celebrate our 25th anniversary, I would love to dedicate this anniversary to a call for unity and healing in our land.
I am aware that as a result of the circumstances of electoral politics in Abia State, we experienced some bitterness and acrimony. A lot of people felt aggrieved and till date, some wounds of pain are still open. I am therefore taking responsibility as the Governor of Abia State and the custodian of the mantle of this state to urge all who were aggrieved for one reason or another to let go of their pain and let the past remain in the past. By the same token, I wish to call on all those who are fanning the embers of disunity and playing the drums of hate to immediately cease and desist.
Abia state belongs to all of us. We pull together, we succeed together, we stand for each other and we take the glory together.
I therefore urge us all to, as a mark of respect to the founding fathers of this state, sheath our swords and come together for the greater good of Abia State. Abia state has illustrious sons and daughters who have excelled admirably in their various chosen fields. Now is the time to pull those expertise, resources and passion together for the good of our state. I make this call solemnly in the belief that all will hear and heed my call.
We are all aware of the difficult economic realities facing our country today. As a component state in Nigeria, these harsh economic realities have affected the finances of Abia State and greatly hampered our ability to fully meet our obligations. The circumstances not-withstanding, we are proud of the great strides we have achieved so far.
From road construction to our interventions in health, education, housing, agriculture, environment and other critical sectors, this administration has defied the negative economic indices to march resolutely forward.
Today, as part of activities marking our 25th Anniversary, we have completed the construction of the Abia Revenue House, the Corporate Headquarters of the Abia State Board of Internal Revenue and our One Stop Investment Centre which will house the mechanism to fast-track ‘Doing Business in Abia State’. The foundation stone for this edifice was laid barely a year ago and today, the project is a reality. It is a signpost of what we will do in the years to come.
For the 2nd year in a row, Abia State came first in the May/June West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination conducted by WAEC. Students from Abia State scored straight As and made the state proud.
It has always been my assurance that Abia State has all it takes to succeed under any circumstance. My confidence stems from the indomitable spirit of our people, the resilient blood that runs in our veins and the resolute determination of our administration to succeed even in the face of stiff challenges.
We are mindful of the fact that before the discovery of oil in Nigeria, agriculture was the main-stay of our people. We are aware that some of the most enduring legacies our founding fathers left for us is the belief that we can always get our sustenance from the land around us. We are now moving into a phase of deliberate embrace of the advantages that we have ranging from our arable lands to the traditional know-how of our people when it comes to agriculture.
Our administration has prioritized agriculture which is one of the 5 pillars we hinged our developmental plans on. We have set aside funds to acquire equipments and machinery needed to embark on massive cultivation of the crops in which we have comparative advantage. We are massively acquiring new species of cassava and oil palm that guarantee us greater yields and higher resistance to diseases and other harvest-decreasing agents. I therefore call on Abians to key into this vision and join hands with this administration as we seek to increase the opportunities available to our people.
My dear people of Abia State, I wish to also use this occasion to address a concern that has been raised about our seeming concentration of road construction projects in Aba.
So far, our administration is on 60 active road construction sites out of which we have completed about 35 roads. 22 of those roads we have completed are in Aba raising concerns that we are concentrating development in Aba. Permit me to provide some perspective on this issue.
Aba is undeniably the commercial and entrepreneurial capital of South Eastern Nigeria. With this reality, it then follows that Aba is very important to the economy of Abia State. This is both in terms of the taxes that can accrue to the Abia State Government from all the commercial activities that go on in Aba and the attendant impact on the Gross Domestic Product of the State.
It is therefore on this premise that our administration has concentrated development in Aba with the understanding that a vibrant Aba economy has the potential of meeting the needs of the entire Abia state. If we get Aba to its full capacity, Abia State will be a buoyant state.
It is however imperative to point out that developments in Aba do not in any way translate to the abandonment of development in other parts of Abia state. The Abiriba-Nkporo Road, the NdiOji-NdiOkereke-Ozu-Abam Road, the Abiriba Ring Road, Bende-Arochukwu Road, Mkpa-Enugu Express Road, the Eke-Obuzo-Ngodo Road, the Eluama-Amibo-Acha road, the Amibo-Otamkpa Road, the Okon-Aku Bridge and the Imo-Ndimkpa Bridge are all massive infrastructure projects completed and on-going in Abia North Senatorial Zone. We equally have a number of ongoing and completed roads spread in all the Local Government Areas of Abia Central Senatorial Zone. I wish to assure all sections of our state of a balanced attention in terms of infrastructural and social amenities.
Our strategy for the rapid socio-economic renaissance of Abia State recognizes the fact that massive agricultural activities and mining industry can thrive in Abia North Senatorial Zone, Agro-based incentives, health tourism and mining will remain the major contribution from Abia Central while the foregoing narrative supports major commercial and small/medium scale enterprises to remain the emphasis in Abia South.
Therefore, all our effort in road rehabilitation, electricity, health, education and security are all geared towards creating a sub-structure upon which these businesses will sprout.
Beloved Abians, Government is touched by the plight of our citizens who reside in areas where construction has slowed down due to the rains especially Ibere Street, Port Harcourt Road, Aba-Owerri Road, Faulks Road, etc all in Aba in addition to Aba Road and Agbama Ring Road in Umuahia. Mindful of the plight of the users of these roads, Government has ordered all contractors to return to site immediately and to ensure that all drainage works are completed within this rainy season. Therefore, Setraco Nigeria Plc will remain on Faulks Road, Aba while Arab Contractors should remobilize to Aba Road, Umuahia as soon as possible.
In response to the many distractions that this government has faced, we have decided to adjust our priorities to include:
1. Renewed Resolve to complete most of the on-going projects before the end of the year.
2. Ground-breaking ceremony of the Osisioma Interchange by October 2016.
3. Our desire to build a new Enyimba Industrial City is still on course.
4. 100% cultivation and application of all our existing farm estates which were hitherto under-cultivated.
5. Maintenance of zero tolerance for touting & illegal revenue collection.
Let me seize this opportunity to assure all our people that the mandate, which they freely gave to us in 2015 remains sacrosanct and safe, under Gods watch.
As custodians of this sacred ‘Equity’ mandate, we shall remain loyal and faithful to the supremacy, authority and ultimate will of God almighty. There shall be no other God beside the God of Shedrack, Meshack and Abadnego in our land which our founding fathers rightfully named God’s Own State.
Dear Abians, at this juncture, I implore us to spare a moment and pray for the repose of the souls of our founding fathers who have gone to be with the Lord. In the same vein, let us also pray for those of them who are still with us that God will continue to imbue them with strength and good health that they will continue to serve as a beacon to us all. We may have gone through the crucibles in our 25-year history but I have no doubt that our future as Abians is far greater than our past. We will do all within our powers to ensure that Abia State is not only the first in alphabetical order in the comity of states but indeed, the first in all positive ramifications.
Permit me to also pay special tribute to all Abians who are making Abia State proud in various fields of endeavour. From Politics to Business, Sports and the Arts, the Academia to Philanthropy and indeed, all other endeavours of life, we say we are proud of you. May you soar even higher.
At 25, if we look around us, we definitely have a lot to be proud of. I therefore implore us all to join me as we give thanks to God for his grace upon this state in the past 25 years.
I congratulate you all and my prayer is that the good Lord will continue to bless you and bless Abia State.
I thank you all for listening and I say happy 25th anniversary.
BEING A STATE BROADCAST BY DR. OKEZIE IKPEAZU, GOVERNOR OF ABIA STATE ON THE OCCASION OF THE 25TH ANNIVERSSARY OF THE CREATION OF ABIA STATE ON SATURDAY, AUGUST 27, 2016