By Iyke Ogbonnaya
The Deputy Governor, Abia State, Rt. Hon. Ude Oko Chukwu, Ph.D, is a towering and fitting symbol of the widely held consensus that “private sector orientation and exposure will always, to a great extent, overshadow the behavioural outputs of its beneficiaries, irrespective of the environment where duty calls.”
I am persuaded to reason in that regard, having studied the background of Abia Deputy Governor covertly, which unveiled a stunning and awe-inspiring revelation bordering on a meteoric rise in accountancy, chartering in the line of duty, to bullishly run an accounting firm and ultimately becoming a doctorate degree holder in finance.
The public and political enclave of Abia State is evidently the beneficiary of the Deputy Governor’s private sector experience, following from his result-oriented and pragmatic flair as a loyal and dependable ally of Governor Okezie Victor Ikpeazu, Ph.D.
I have to observe that his charismatic devotion to work and availability to duty even at the 11th hour during which he has clinically tidied up unscheduled events, which usually erupt like a volcano, have consistently distinguished him, while comparatively widening his milage when juxtaposed with his other less busy colleagues. This high sense of responsibility to duty rationalises the governor’s confidence in him and has been demonstrated through constant extension of other critical state functions to the Deputy Governor for execution.
As bonded gladiators and servant leaders who were divinely paired, Gov. Ikpeazu, in league with the Deputy, Ude Oko Chukwu, have selflessly become pathfinders, which has beyond constitutional call of duty made the Deputy Governor’s office more eventful.
Given the precarious and fragile economic outlook prevalent in Nigeria, the governor rightly responded by detailing the deputy, an accounting apostle, to financially keep the state wet.
Leveraging the instrumentality of a revenue council being superintended by the deputy governor, Abia has not dwelt deeply in financial woods. Practical implementation of the council’s recommendations and sealing of revenue leakage yielded the hike of internally generated revenue previously hovering in the neighbourhood of N400 million monthly to N1 billion and above monthly. A newsworthy development, which motivated the governor’s ‘can-do’ new target of N4 billion monthly. “Where there is a will, they say, there will always be a way.”
The new revenue regime in Abia State has significantly reduced the crude and unorthodox approach of hounding taxpayers, touting and brigandage in revenue generation.
A retrospective incursion into what seemed like a jinxed and interactable inauguration of Abia dry port conceived on the template of public-private partnership dates back to 2006. However, the fanfare, which followed its proposed establishment, has since evaporated into a feeling of despair, especially from our import-oriented businessmen and women, who had expected its quick realisation.
I can emphatically note that hope has been rekindled, arising from the governor’s recent and bold mandate being conscientiously implemented by the deputy governor. All basic and mandatory protocols bordering on compensation to landowners have been complied with, while contractors are being mobilized to site for perimeter fencing and critical site services.
With the completion of geotechnical investigation of the soil content at Ntigha (designated site of the Abia dry port) Eastgate, the project driver is set to secure government’s nod for erection of site plan, viz, architectural, mechanical, electrical drawings and bill of quantity. Billed to be delivered in record time, the project will strategically launch the state into the league of dry port destinations for the much-expected ease in container clearance.
The destiny-decimating effect of hard and illicit drugs currently ravaging our society has given a frightening rise to multiplicity of tragedies. It has cancerously taken a grip on many vibrant sociological age strata’s of our society.
To stem the tide arising from the horrific effect of drugs in our once-serendipitous society, the deputy governor is chairing the Abia State Drug Abuse Control Committee, which is collaboratively attaining breakthroughs with the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency.
The committee’s tenacious devotion to duty has seen to the inclusion of drug education in the secondary school curriculum and pilot teachers, whose curriculum will centre around that topic, are being engaged to hit the ground running.
Players in the hospitality industry have had quality and result-yielding interface with the workaholic deputy governor’s committee, which culminated in the strategically placed signage of “No use of drugs” in hotels and relevant public places.
A landmark achievement in drug control worthy of note and spanning the creation of the agency is the recent celebrated exhibition and destruction of over 11 tonnes of drugs carried out by the committee in league with the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency.
Drawing from constitutional latitude, the deputy governor and chairman, Abia State Cocoa Transformation Committee, has been blazing the trail. His ceaseless injection of the relevant ideas has significantly contributed in the enviable position Abia is currently occupying.
It was at the deputy governor’s instance that the state powered the hosting of “Cocoa Roundtable Conference” towards the expiration of 2020. The meeting facilitated the collapse of unhealthy rivalries and provided the much expected vista for cross-fertilization of ideas among cocoa growers.
Precisely on the 17th of June 2021, the Deputy Governor flagged-off the distribution of new hybrid of cocoa seedlings to cocoa farmers in the State.
At the last count, over ten thousand seedlings of the minimal disease and pest prove seedlings have been distributed.
The Deputy Governor’s celebrated disposition to ‘Jaw-jaw’ and interface with neighbouring States rather than ‘war-war’ has ideologically stood him out in his adjudication of boundary matters. His diplomatic recipe in approaching inter and intra boundary disputes has strategically calmed frayed nerves and engendered conviviality in the existence of boundary communities.
It was masterfully deployed in managing the unwarranted provocation meted on Isu community in Arochukwu Local Government Area by the people of Biase in Cross River State. This show of understanding has significantly helped in managing boundary disputes in areas like Ikwuano and Akirika-Obu all bounded with communities in Akwa-Ibom State while delineation has been initiated in areas where mutual understanding on boundary lines has been established.
Rt. Hon. Sir Ude Oko Chukwu, (Ph.D), a well established office man, is undoubtedly well schooled in the complementary role of a Deputy Governor and has maximally utilized same in reducing the burden of governance for his boss, Okezie Victor Ikpeazu (Ph.D).
• Iyke Ogbonnaya, a Public Affairs Analyst wrote in from Umuahia.