Abia Today: Strength Amidst Challenges

By Nnaji Obed Asiegbu Obedng

Theme: What should have caused a low morale and dampen the spirit of a leader has rather come to be an inspirational obsession for Governor Ikpeazu. His passion for serviceto Abia People has remained unshaken and unwavering and will remain so.

The regime of projects and road constructions has continued unabated despite the distractions of the Appeal Court Ruling. For the Governor, his covenant with the Abia people remains constant. So this period has been largely a time of consolidation of the gains attained in the first 200 days and a time of opening up of new frontiers.

Just yesterday, the Governor inaugurated the committee for the Inland Dry Port at Ntigha, Isiala Ngwa North, and last week he flagged off the construction of four roads in Aba – six-kilometer Ohazu-Ibere-Ozumba Ring Road which terminates at 72 Port Harcourt Road and the Umuokahia Road, and will soon match on to Bende Local Government where three roads have been earmarked for construction. The newly flagged-off roads in Aba will also be constructed with cement technology.

So it has been a regime of work and projects in the midst of what should have been a huge distraction or a psychological setback for other people. What should have been a threat arerather a motivation and a source of inspiration for Governor Ikpeazu. He is being fired on by a seeming challenge. He is in full control of his environment, displaying doggedness and showing courage in the face of an obvious threat. He is inspiring everyone and this is the hallmark of a leader.

A roll-call
1. Road Construction
We are on 47 active sites and 2 bridges are under construction in the state today. Three of such roads were commissioned in Aba by the former President Olusegun Obasanjo. These roads cut across the 3 geopolitical zones of the state.

There are plans between the state and its neighbour, Akwa Ibom to jointly rehabilitate the shared federal Roads.

Abia State is also pioneering the use of cement technology or what experts call rigid pavement technology in road construction which means we have to cast with concrete over a mass of iron before asphalting the road. The idea is to extend the lifespan of the roads, to ensure durability so we don’t come back to them very soon.

We have completed the construction of a brand new bridge at Okonu Afia, Ohafia and done a realighnment of a the bridge at Umunneochie. And we are erecting solar light at the both sides of the bridges.

2. Zero Tolerance to Potholes
Abia is running a programme we call Zero tolerance to potholes. By this, the old roads are constantly being asphalted and resurfaced. This programme is being executed by the state road management agency and it is taking place simultaneously in the two cities of Umuahia and Aba.

Under this project, 5 roads have been asphalted in Umuahia and completely resurfaced St Micheals Road , Park Road, Kent, Ube and many others all in Aba city.

3. Establishment of Trade Centers
Abia is establishing trade centres where the old professions are to be revived. This will be supervised and handled by some Mexicans and Philipinos. The idea is for them to begin to teach Abia children the rudiments of the old craft works like capentry, masonry, House Wring so that we can produce our own household items without going abroad to import them.

To teach such handiwork as carpentry, plumbing, electrical, Tiling etc. The idea is to help the artisans add some professionalism and education to their trade. We expect that the trade centres will create jobs and empower people with skills

4. Friends of Abia Schools Adoption Initiative (FASAI)

1. The Governor used the occasion of his 51th birthday to launch this pet project to mobilize funds to renovate the worst primary schools in the 17 Local Government Areas of the State.

2. Calling on friends to help him give a facelift to primary schools in serious state of dilapidation

3. The aim is to turn around the fortunes of such schools to give the pupils real sense of belonging. Change the environment of the schools.

4. Calling on well to do Abians to assist him own pupils of the schools and make the world a better place for them, through sponsorship and infrastructural development of the schools.

5. Under this also, the Governor decided to maintain direct contact with the headmasters of the primary schools to enable him oversee the academic standard of pupils in the state.

6. The idea also is to revert the trend of drift to private schools.

7. Noted that most of us were products of public schools

5. Aba Industrial Clusters.
Government is concluding plans to launch the construction work on the Abia Industrial Clusters starting with Aba.

The Govt is currently procuring equipments needed for the clusters and for the appropriate equipment that can match our standard of technological development.

The aim is to mechanize and automate the process of leather-making and othe artisanship works in Abia State.

The Aba Industrial Cluster would involve 40,000 shoemakers who are capable of producing 1000 shoes daily.

6. Skill Acquisition Programme
Government has resuscitated three moribund technical schools in the state to run the skills acquisition programme. Others will follow soon.

Our goal is to develop the trade sector in Abia so that the State could make all the shoes for school children, the military and the paramilitary in Nigeria instead of us having to import them. Other countries, particularly African countries will be buying shoes and belts from Aba.

7. Education
Started work on the construction of the permanent site of Abia Polytechnic at Osisioma area of Aba.

8. Foreign Partnership
- Planned collaboration with the state of Georgia in agriculture

- Especially in the area of Green House farming and poultry because Georgia State is the poultry headquarters of the world.

- We will soon unveil our initiative in terms of poultry farming in which the American technology and expertise will be brought to bear in Abia State.

- This will have positive effect in the economy and the productive capacity of our agricultural sector

9. Market Development
Establishment of the Abia State Markets Dev. Committee (ASMDC)

A Special Purpose Initiative to restore sanity to all markets in the state.

There is an ongoing War Against Street Trading in Aba and relocation of Traders to new sites.

New markets to be provided with modern conveniences, covered roofs, Police Post, Motor Parks, Fire Service Posts, among others to bring them to international standards

9. NDE Programme
The Govt gave adequate support for the development of the NDE ICT SKILL Acquisition Centre at Osieke in Ugwunagbo LGA of the state. The Governor also followed up by promising to place the first 125 intakes into the scheme on N25,000 monthly stipend. The centre has commenced full traning of youths on different skills.

10. Feeding of 30,000 Pupils Weekly Programme/ Stomach Infrastructure

Under its Universal Basic Education Provisions, the Abia State Government has launched a pilot arrangement to feed 30,000 primary school pupils three times in a week in 10 local council Areas. Pupils are to be feed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

11. Revitalization of 52 Water Schemes and Installation of Streetlights along roads in Umuahia, Aba and Ohafia.

12. Powering of the new government house and new workers secretariat premises with solar energy.

13. Launch of First Lady’s Pet Project, the Vicar Hope Foundation. Under which she attending to the needs of the handicapped persons in our community. She built and opened 7 bungalows for 6 indigent widows and one blind man from Osisioma.

14. Inauguration of the EXCO. We now have full compliments of commissioners. The state EXCO has been dully inaugurated and they are all up and running.

15. Establishment of agencies – (1) Traffic Management Agency. Captures the personality of the new government. We have atleast 200 youngmen working in this agency right now. A replay of LASTMA in Lagos. A collaboration between the state and the Federal Roads Safety Corp. (2 ) There is also the Public Infrastructure Management Agency. A strategy to make sure that touts and those who abuse Government Infrastructure are checkmated. Those who go to remove batteries of the solar lights, steal the armoured cables with which the street lights are being empowered are combated by this agency. Also checkmate the cases of abandoned projects.

16. Salaries and Pensions
We are happy to announce that despite our constraints in the fact that the federal allocation was postponed, the Governor was able to pay workers before Christmas as he promised. Currently, the backlog of salary arrears and pension arrears which the Governor inherited has been cleared.

And the government moved into the new yearfresh and free from any burden of salary complaints

Godwin Adindu
Chief Press Secretary to the Abia Governor