“Communication is the food of intimacy and friends’ Anonymous.
TODAY’S discourse is on Abia State and it would revolve around governance issues. It is not about a verdict on the administration of my in-law and friend, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, who has been at the helm of affairs of the state for almost 12 months. My assessment of the Abia State government would come very likely before the end of May, which would mark a one-year point for political chief executives sworn into office at same time last year. Governance is both a difficult and a simple task. This is no contradiction and I will explain. Ordinarily governance is a very tedious engagement and it can be very upsetting for the not well equipped and worst for those manipulated into positions and responsibilities far above their level of competence. On the other hand it can be soft meat for the capable, for the person whose mind is tutored and who has taken time to prepare himself for the challenges ahead. A leader would also excel exceedingly if other stakeholders see reason to make their observations, vision and experience available to whoever is in the position of power and authority per time.
Many citizens earnestly desire to make contributions to the administration of their states and communities, but they can’t find the avenue because the poor and ordinary man of yesterday, who bulldozes his way into power and authority believes he owes the people nothing; they compound the situation by adopting the image of kings and emperors; they become special people that the lowly ones want to kill at the slightest opportunity; so what is the response? Our kings on the block close the space, cordon themselves with miscreants who they pass for bodyguards; they change their phone lines and adopt this snobbish attitude when they attend public functions. By so doing they succeed in creating a make believe world that is far from the real world and that is the point where most of our leaders begin to miss their way.
Ikpeazu as a person is a good man and I can vouch for that and that would continue to be, if the virus often associated with power has not changed him. Many times I have had cause to reach him on phone or tex; he did respond and I think that is one good thing going for the new administration in the state. I still believe the governor remains a decent man and his decision to meet with traditional rulers from my area penultimate week is indicative that he desires to give attention to that local government that harbors the only functional oil wells for which Abia State is regarded as an oil producing state and for which it gets hundreds of millions of naira as derivation funds from the Federation Account. One of the issues plaguing this long neglected area is the issue of roads. Nearly all the major road arteries are in very deplorable state and it is inconceivable to leaders in the area that our brother governor could be doing 65 roads and not one was chosen from Ukwa-West. The governor from reports lamented about the poor state of Owaza- Obehie-Azumini road which we know has been taken over by the Ministry for the Niger Delta but he stopped short of saying what the state government could do to make the Federal Government to order its contractors to mobilize to site and commence work on the Obehie to Okeikpe axis which for now is the worst portion of the road that is part of the Niger Delta highway to Calabar. Where this would not happen soon, it would not be out of place given the contribution of the area to the wealth of Abia State for the Abia State government to undertake to level the portion that is just about 3km and prime it just to enable the indigenes of the area have access in and out of their community especially in this raining season.
Obuaku City Project is one that has been in the heart of the people of the area and the state government for a long time. We are glad that our governor has resurrected the matter and even gone ahead to constitute a committee headed by the distinguished Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Eme Okoro. The Okoro committee is saddled with the task of developing Obuaku Medical Tourism City and many do not know whether the concept is the same as Obuaku City or something else. If it is, it is important we have an Asa indigene acceptable to the people on the committee, possibly from the area of land acquisition and then there is the issue of compensation to the original land owners. There is also the issue of a seaport or jetty for Ukwa-West area, the two projects have within them economic capacity to impact the standard of living of the entire people of Abia State and even beyond. More importantly, both can be realized through private initiative with only serious supervision by the government. The same could apply to Ogwe Golden Chicken Industry, a similar venture established by the late Dr. Sam Mbakwe in Avutu, when he was governor of the old Imo State. Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha has revived the Avutu project, which has now employed workers.
When the Acting Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) came to Abia recently, our governor treated her with kid gloves. One had expected the governor to confront her with a profile of projects for Abia, amounts spent and extent of work done, and of course informing us the stakeholders to interface with her. Imo, Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa did so and it was good for the people. It is our expectation that NDDC should be made to explain its services to our state and particularly to the oil producing local government of Ukwa-West. The law establishing ASOPADEC needs restructuring, with due respect to the current chairman who is a fine gentle man and committed patriot, it is the desire of my people that the position be a permanent reserve of those who produce the oil and suffer direct pollution arising from the exploration activities.
A threat in a boundary community is invariably a threat to the other neighbours; the state of insecurity in Rivers State may not be of the magnitude reported but it is true that young men use small arms and kill people. It could spill over into Abia through the two local governments of Ukwa-East and Ukwa-West. To that extent it has been the expectation that government would have commenced the mobilization of the people to check infiltration.
We are also not happy that our people don’t get employed into academic and administrative positions in the three tertiary institutions in the state. This appeal is because we have seen in Ikpeazu a governor ready to work and particularly to correct injustices whenever identified, these are some of it and I have no doubt that we shall see more action from a governor, who I can see is determined to write his name in gold. There are other statewide governance issues I intend to take up with the governor when we meet and I can assure Abians this would be soon. Okezie deserves our help and those with ability should volunteer.