By Njoku Saintjerry A
Abia, like any other state, has had its fair share of underdevelopment and bungling of leadership without any kind of developmental blueprint. Should such a shameful experience be repeated, every Abia State indigene will be culpable
The state of affairs in acclaimed ‘God’s Own State’ is disheartening. Governance has remained at its lowest ebb while the economy, public institutions and residents of Nigeria’s acclaimed industrial capital suffers abysmal downturn of events since the 2015 emergence of the present administration led by a proxy governor working solely for the interest of godfathers awfully disconnected from the harsh realities and frustration of its people.
To learn that one of the presiding godfathers, a former governor of the state, lives outside the state for the sake of environmental discomfort in his home state while the present governor of the state, Okezie Ikpeazu lives outside the state capital, perhaps for similar reasons, is enough evidence to take leadership of government of Abia as unserious people foisted over the administration of a serious commercial region. The state ought to have been under the management of competent hands versed in wealth creation- economists, technocrats, business people who understand the dynamics of wealth-cycle, growth and sustenance of regional economy that attracts investment and human capacity development.
Whether it is China as a country, Vietnam, India or even Rwanda as a small unit compared to giant economies as China, fact is; the bees will swarm where the honey is.
Some previous and present administrations of governance in Abia State have continuously succeeded in driving away investment, industry and worse off, destroyed the SME base the city of Aba is famous for, while business people growl under environmental ruin of the erstwhile vibrant commercial spot.
At the onset of the Okezie Ikpeazu administration, he was privileged to set up what looked like a team of economic eggheads. Led by one Austin Ufomba, they set off to work. Unfortunately there was no blueprint and they searched and found out a 1978 economic blueprint of the defunct Imo State comprising today’s Abia, Ebonyi and Imo designed by government of late Dr. Sam Mbakwe. Every other search proved futile as that was the nearest to anything developmental plan of Abia.
From billboard adverts of half executed road jobs, to billboard display of repainted classroom blocks, media celebration of a shoe factory that ended on the billboard to various abandoned infrastructure projects. Recently the people of the state mounted a heated taunting of a one-kilometre overhead bridge that was taking donkey years to accomplish. Most worrisome was the site of the bridge that served as gateway into the capital city of commerce in the South East.
Credit goes to residents of Aba and every other Abia state indigene for voicing out in anger and frustration, condemning such shameful display of incompetence by a sitting governor. When the governor could not contain the bashing anymore, he had to hurriedly complete the one-kilometre bridge taking almost seven years to accomplish.
Next was the brazen withholding of wages belonging to the hardworking civil servants of Abia State spreading to virtually every institution of government perhaps to subject them to a level of dependence that will force them to succumb to every whims and obnoxious decision of leadership of the proxy government. They then released a tiny fraction of the wages and the people are bound to celebrate the governor and even give him honorary awards, reducing the people of Abia State to the very low level of humanity and shame.
Abia, like any other failed state, has had its fair share of underdevelopment and bungling of leadership without any kind of developmental blueprint. Should such a shameful experience be repeated, every Abia State indigene will be culpable as the Okezie Ikpeazu administration makes frantic efforts to replicate himself in diverse images under several party platforms.
Coming from the masses, the suffering workers of Abia State is Labour Party, devoid of any voodoo manipulation and independent of political hawks perching at the dry branch of every tree looking out for prey, lackeys and stooges to be ‘anointed’ as the next governor, to replicate the likes of Okezie Ikpeazu and extend the backwardness and suffering of the Abia State workers, public institutions including schools and health institutions, which have remained shut indefinitely.
But come to think of it, where did Dr. Alex Otti fall in, in the making of a new Abia of everyone’s dream? In a speech he gave at a reception organised by the Elite Ngwa Club – Lagos, the Labour Party gubernatorial candidate for Abia State, a man who has remained focused, consistent in his desires to see a better Abia worthy of its name as the Industrial capital of Nigeria, gave an insight into an economic blueprint whose absence has left Abia completely disoriented in the hands of lackeys and stooges ‘appointed’ to represent the interest of their sponsors while Abia continues to lag behind at every index of development.
In his statement, the best way to get the economy working is to implement policies and programmes that would provide opportunities for the citizens to maintain an economic status of wealth creation through regular paying of wages for every form of services provided, most especially the civil servants. This will keep the economy of the region in a positive progression when citizens are adequately compensated for their time in every gainful engagement and serious provision of basic environmental infrastructure.
The Labour Party governorship candidate without the usual embellishment of words common among average Nigerian politicians drew a brief highlight into what he described as a glimpse of his Economic blueprint of Abia, covering his plans for the oil and water-rich areas of Ukwa East and Ukwa West, the implementation of his plans for the commercial centres of Aba North and South, Osisioma axis and the detailed plans of making Abia financially self-sustaining, leveraging on the untapped solid mineral resources in the Abia North region. The revival of the political and administrative base of Umuahia North and South and an accelerated socio-economic programme that are people-oriented rather than the white elephant projects that are always abandoned at the detriment of the citizenry.
•Njoku SaintJerry A is the Abia State Publicity Secretary of Labour Party