The Challenges That Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu Would Have To Address As Governor Of Abia State
In the history of the Jews, one learns that time, perseverance and resoluteness can always combine effectively to heal wounds of many decades. After many years of persecution, it was only on November 29, 1947 that the United Nations’ General Assembly passed a resolution for the establishment of a Jewish state of Israel within Palestine. That resolution was known as Resolution 181 of the United Nations.
Though both British government that had a colonial mandate on Palestine and Arab countries were vehemently opposed to the establishment of the Jewish state of Israel, God had to use the forthrightness, diplomatic wizardry and Military confidence of President Harry Truman of the United States of America to make the aspiration of the Jews for a return to their promised land that flows with milk and honey a fait accompli.
The experience of the Jews tells us that no matter how painful a situation might be, no conspiracy, marginalization, deprivation or hardship lasts forever. In the true holiness of God, nature would always guarantee a reprieve for the oppressed.
Like the Jews of the middle- East of Asia, the people of Ukwa and Ngwa had witnessed and become victims ofdeliberate marginalization, degradation and frustration since Nigeria’s One Hundred and One years of imperialist establishment. Despite being the most highly populated sub-ethnic group within the Igbo Nation and the most economically endowed zone within the South- Eastern boundaries of Nigeria, the travails and woes of the people of Old Aba Division have been unparalleled in the annals of the history of Nigeria, the defunct Eastern Region, the Thirty-Month-Old Biafran Republic that was synonymous with a pogrom agenda against the people of the then Abaprovince, defunct East- Central State, Old Imo State and Abia State. Not minding that the people are the most accommodating, hospitable and reliable in matters of collective agenda and subordination to leadership, the people of old Aba Division have beenthe most hated, maligned, degraded, unappreciated and under-rated.
As God would have it, every socio-econo-political suppression has its climax and once any anti- human agenda gets to its peak, God intervenes and reverses the order. Even from within the rank and file of the oppressive jingoists, a replica of the American President, Harry Truman, who came to the rescue of the Jews, could be divinely raised.
For a jinx of one hundred and one years to have been broken, the people of Ukwa and Ngwa, apart from being eternally faithful and thankful to God, would always remember and appreciate Governor Theodore Ahamefule Orji, being the Abia equivalence of Harry Truman, who became a divine catalyst in the liberation struggle of the people of Ukwa and Ngwa. If Chief T.A. Orji had hearkened to the voice of his kith and kin of the old Bende geo-political divide, a group that has already governed Abia State consecutively for Sixteen years despite not being as numerous in population as the people of Ukwa and Ngwa and not being equal in the number of registration areas and Local government areas with the latter, he would not have consented to the voice of equity that mildly demanded that power shifted to the Old Aba Division.
To the glory of God, whatever has a beginning definitely would have an end. The many years of political marginalization, economic deprivation and social degradation of the Old Aba Division have been crowned with a meritorious emergence of a quintessential academic, a scholar of note, a consummate administrator and a man whose words, body language and deeds are encompassed in humility of incomparable order; Dr. Okezie Chibuikem Ikpeazu, as first Executive Governor of Abia State of the Old Aba Divisional extraction.
It is, however, very important to note that Dr. OkezieIkpeazu is coming as governor when, not only AbiaState but Nigeria as a whole is at the nadir of economic squalor and collapse. A governor that is coming in at a moment when governments are finding it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to pay their public servants, pensioners, political appointees, address questions of escalating infrastructural decay, cope with the problems of daily increasing youth unemployment,with its attendant youth restiveness and bring themselves to terms with sky-rocketing wave of poverty amongst the Nigerian Citizenry, mainly due to corruption and poor governance, is, indeed, uncompromisingly required to gird up his loins. As at present, the fact is obvious that the economy of Nigeria has nose-dived to a near-zero level due to predictable fluctuations in the global oil sector.
Co-incidentally, both the federal and state governments in Nigeria were recklessly oblivious that a time would come when the oil and gas sectors of the national economy would receive devastating knocks. The people at the helm of affairs abysmally failed to plan for the rainy day and imprudently depended on easy and seamless revenue from the oil and gas sectors of the economy. They were not visionary to use their share of the cheap fund to develop alternative sources of wealth generation. Today, every government in Nigeria is like a mansion covered with darkness in the brightness of a sunny day. This unfortunate development arose only due to profligacy, embezzlement and outright corruption within the leadership echelon.
On assumption of office as a governor on May 29, 2015, Dr. Ikpeazu would have to be very meticulous, prudent and extra vigilant in addressing the herculean task of governance. The first thing he fundamentally has to do is to make a clear choice between strict adherence to the norms and principles of good governance and playing to the gallery. For him to achieve the desired goals of transparent governance, he must be able to call a spade by its name and not merely an instrument of digging.
To start with, taking into consideration the present economic reality in Nigeria in general and Abia State in particular, the Dr. Ikpeazu Administration may have to carefully select the agenda his administration would have to pursue. A five-point agenda may be apt and structurally achievable by the administration. The five areas the administration may have to focus on are; (1) security (2) Infrastructural recovery of Aba (3) Education (4) Agriculture and (5) Integrated structural economic transformation of the state, with improved power supply.
Abia state, if properly co-ordinated and managed, has all it takes to be among the very economically vibrant states within the global economy. On assumption ofoffice, it is advised that the governor would approachthe capital market for a bond of thirty billion naira. With this bond, especially if prudently deployed and utilized, his administration would be able to recover the commercial nerve of Abia State, which is Aba, in terms of infrastructure. The truth of the matter is that if Aba could be infrastructurally recovered, the problem of revenue accruable to the state would be meaningfully minimized. It had been said severally on different fora that an infrastructurally-enhanced Aba is capable of generating, at least, three billion naira every two months, as long as the revenue machinery is anchored on transparency and accountability.
Pragmatic agriculture must, of necessity, be given a boost. In this case, mechanised agriculture, which encompasses tractorization, should be encouraged. The people of the state should be made to appreciate that co-operative undertakings are the key to economic development. It is expected that the government of Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu would establish effective synergy with the chambers of commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture in the state to bring about an industrial revolution of inexorable magnitude in Abia State, like what has happened and is still happening in China and the Asian Tigers.
In selecting the persons that would work in his administration, considerations need be given to individuals with vision, mission, unstained record of integrity and transparency, knowledge, undiluted loyalty and frankness in assessing issues. They should not be persons with inclination to materialism at the expense of performance and overall credibility.Experience has shown that some government appointees, when given money to execute government projects either handle them higgledy-piggledy or even fail to execute the project at all.
Again, it would be advised that the in-coming government observes budgetary discipline in the management of her finances. In this case, emphasis has to be placed on capital budget. For any state to grow, it should be able to run minimal ratio of sixty percent capital and thirty percent recurrent budget.
In order to stimulate economic developments in the grass-roots, it is imperative that the local government councils have to be allowed to leave up to their constitutional responsibilities.
Finally, the governor-elect is advised to look at his election as a call to service. From the record already available, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu has not been associated with material insatiability in the course of his public engagement, so far, in the state. He is expected to always appreciate the simple fact that many public officials, who converted their positions to sources oflooting of the people’s treasury now fail elections evenin the polling units where they cast their votes. This, therefore, gives credence to the saying that a good name is better than gold. This also implies that if Dr Okezie Ikpeazu prudently and transparently manages the common wealth of Abia people in his first four years, his second tenure would be a mere formality and the person he would wish to succeed him would not be confronted with animosity and odium of exceptional magnitude.
Chief (Sir) Don Ubani