MY GOOD PEOPLE OF ABIA STATE,
It is with thanksgiving that I address you today on the occasion of the 31st anniversary of the creation of Abia State.
I note that this will be my last Abia Day Broadcast to you as your elected Governor as by this time next year, you will be hearing from my successor whom God will select for you.
We have been together on this journey for the last 7 years and counting. We have weathered storms and celebrated triumphs. One thing I am not in doubt of is the fact that we have taken Abia State further than we met it 7 years ago.
Our works speak for us. We have delivered many pioneering and indelible landmark infrastructural projects across various sectors of Abia State. These projects will serve as monuments to the work we did during our time long after we have left the stage.
We have over 150 roads which our administration has commenced and delivered in the course of our tenure. We are strongly advancing work on another 48 roads and we have a target to finish them before we hand over to the next administration by May 29, 2023.
One aspect of these projects I am proud of is their strategic significance and economic importance. A project like the Osisioma Interchange has forever changed the traffic narrative at that junction.
Users of that road in recent years will recall how they were often condemned to spend hours in traffic due to the lockdown on the road at peak periods. Today, that episode is in the past as there is now guaranteed seamless flow of traffic along the axis in addition to the aesthetic uplift of the general environment.
The adjoining Aba Owerri Road which also hitherto used to be a nightmare has been rebuilt and expanded with relevant road furnishings installed.
Roads abutting the Aba Owerri road have also been opened up to ventilate the city of Aba.
We have a solid Abayi Umueze-ABSUTH road built with our signature rigid pavement technology that is a beauty. The perennial swamp along that axis leading to recurrent road failure has been decisively resolved. Kamalu , MCC and Eziukwu roads are all our signature projects. Down Okpu Umuobo road, we are completing and bringing back the old road that leads to Mgboko Obingwa LGA Secretariat from where motorists can join the new Obikabia – Obikabia Road and emerge at the Enugu – Port Harcourt Expressway.
Our work in other areas of Aba are equally heartwarming for their strategic importance. Osusu, Imaculate, Milverton, Azikiwe, Ukaegbu, Ehere, Umuola, Ebenma, Egege, Opobo, Okigwe, Chima Nwafor Road and other roads we have built around the city are all of immeasurable importance to the continued economic vibrancy of Aba. We have advanced work on the Ngwa Road axis where we have constructed 6 internal roads so far. We are hard at work on Omuma, Obohia, Ohanku, Uratta and Port Harcourt roads which we will complete before we leave office.
Today, for the first time in over 30 years, our major markets in Aba are now accessible by road. The Eziukwu Cemetery road leading to the popular Cemetery Market which had long been forgotten is now fully rebuilt and back to life and it is easy now to connect that market from Aba-Owerri road seamlessly. Same goes for the Ngwa Road Market and the Ariaria International Market.
The Osokwa-Aro-Umueje road, Ururuka Road, Umuojima Road, Okpulu Umuobo – Mgboko Road, Agalaba Ring Road, Umuobiakwa Owo-Ahiafor Road and the Obikabia-Obikabia Road signify our resolve to ventilate rural areas with access to our economic hubs and spread the expansion of our urban areas and reduce pressure on them while stemming rural-urban migration.
While I acknowledge that a lot of roads still remain undone in Aba, we must not forget where we were coming from. We must not forget that at the inception of our administration, there was no single motorable entrance into Aba. This had untold consequences on commercial activities in the city. Today, multiple options abound for ingress and egress in Aba.
Ndi Abia Ndi Nwem, I am proud to announce to you that we have also done substantial work in other parts of Abia State. The Isi Court – Aba road in Umuahia road remains a signature project of this administration and has given the state capital a new vista. The extension from Isi Court to Ubakala Expressway is also coming apace and will soon be ready for commissioning. Still around that axis, we have done the Mgbarakuma road and work has advanced on the Ubakala Ring Road and Umuopara Ring Road.
The idea behind these projects of course is to expand our State Capital, Umuahia and ensure commensurate infrastructure in adjoining communities so that we can ease the stress on infrastructure in the main city itself like it is done in most large cities.
We have also delivered Trinity College Road while constructing internal roads at Low Cost Housing Estate which is in addition to roads we did at Agbama Housing Estate.
Ukaegbu Estate and environs in Umuahia is wearing an entirely new look courtesy of the signature brand new roads we built within the estate while the Ossah-Amato-Umuda Isingwu road, Umuagu and environs associated erosion remediation works as well as Umuakwu Nsulu erosion remediation works, speaks to our resolve to safeguard our environment from the menace of erosion and watershed damage.
Further down North, we have built the Abiriba-Nkporo Road which has opened up that axis to agrarian activities in addition to the Ugwuezi Road in Abiriba. The Okon-Aku Bridge we did at Ohafia still stands today as testament to our resolve to link rural communities. We will soon revisit the Eluama Otamkpa Road in Isuikwuato to deal with challenges associated with the road as well as Nkpa Road in Bende LGA. Our roads in Umunneochi LGA are also there to speak for us.
In the Health sector, we recently commissioned the Anne-Marie Jackson Children’s Specialist Hospital in Umuahia which is a novel project in the South East region. The Hospital, fully equipped with modern medical equipment, is of international standard. I commend the Diaspora Team of patriotic Abians who oversaw the setting up of the hospital and recommend their efforts to other Abians resident abroad to also come and join hands to develop their state.
Also in the Health Sector, an ultra modern 150-bed Hospital with kidney and heart specialist center is being constructed at the old site of the Aba General Hospital even as we are set to commission an ultra-modern Diagnostic Laboratory for Abia North located at Isuikwuato General Hospital.
It is for this reason that during the last Diaspora Day, I handed a Certificate of Occupancy of a parcel of land to the Executive Secretary of the Abia State Diaspora Commission, Dr. Mrs. Ngozi Ogbonna-Erondu, to be used as a Diaspora Village to encourage Abians who are desirous of owning property in Abia State to have an easy route. We commend our disaporans and we appreciate their sacrifice. In our administration, they will continue to find worthy partners in progress.
Dear Abians, I can tell you with some confidence that we have laid a solid foundation for our State upon which our successors will build.
Today, we have in place, a long-term development plan, a futuristic document which outlines clearly our development pathway for the next 30 years.
We, working together with UN-HABITAT, now have a standard and workable masterplan for Aba, Umuahia and Ohafia.
We also have an industrial policy which we worked with UNIDO to produce for our state.
These policy documents were not there before now. Undoubtedly, these will impact positively on our system of governance. When we add these to the massive investment we have made in the area of capacity building for young Abians
Development of Shoe and Garment Factories
Training of our Shoemakers in China
Scholarship for our students enabling them to study abroad
Promotion of our locally-made products and many other interventions, it becomes evident that our state is ready for the challenges of tomorrow leveraging our innate qualities and God-given attributes.
In the area of basic education, we have built over 600 new classroom blocks across the state with 4 model schools and 3 federal colleges. Our primary school enrolment-figures have moved from an initial 150,000 in 2015 to about 700,000 today.
We have remained on the list of top performance in WAEC Exams in the country and we are currently no 2 on the list of states with the least number of out-of-school children in the country.
Beloved Abians, while I am excited about the works we have done in the infrastructural sector, what I would consider to be our most enduring achievement in the course of our administration would be the enduring atmosphere of peace and harmony we have entrenched in the state since we came on board.
Our administration has ensured that even at great provocation, we have remained calm and promoted peace and mutual coexistence among socio-political tendencies within the state.
There can never be meaningful development in an atmosphere of rancor and strife. I have managed to remain at peace with every strata in the State. We do not have quarrels with predecessors in Abia State.
We do not have Executive-Legislative cold war or rancor amongst arms of Government or across political divides. We do not have Abuja factions sabotaging Government efforts and internal party divides. We even work harmoniously with Abians holding Federal Appointments despite belonging to different political parties.
Even in the thick of succession electioneering which we are now, we have managed to maintain peace and harmony in Abia State. Not for lack of provocation, but because we understand that the value of peace is unquantifiable. We will continue to work to maintain the peace in our state until the end of our tenure.
This should of course not be misinterpreted or misconstrued for weakness or laxity. It is simply a disposition for the larger good of the state. It is however not inexhaustible. Any attempt to test the will of this administration and disrupt the peace in this state will be met with decisive force. The peace and harmony of this state is paramount to us and we will ensure its preservation.
My Beloved Abians, it is on this basis that I call on you to ensure that even as we all participate in the ongoing electioneering process, we remember that we have no other place to call home than Abia State. We will not set our own home ablaze to spite our brethren. I therefore call on all political actors to have this at the back of their mind as they go about their political activities. Nobody’s ambition is worth the disruption of the peace of Abia State and we will work with security agencies to enforce that.
While mentioning some of the modest achievements we have recorded in the course of our administration, I must not fail to acknowledge some of the challenges we have faced especially in the area of security and management of our payroll, wage-bill, pensions and other emoluments. I would like to assure Ndi Abia and all those affected by these challenges that we are working with all concerned to resolve the associated issues expeditiously. I continue to implore the support and corporation of all stakeholders involved going forward.
Let me at this juncture pay special tribute to all our founding fathers both departed and still with us. I pay special homage to the Abia State Advisory Council for their tireless efforts in guiding us on the path of sustainable development and reminding us of the ethos upon which our state was founded.
I rededicate my abiding commitment to serving Abia State to the best of my God-given ability. I count it a privilege to have been chosen out of over 5 million Abians to Govern this state. This has been the honour of my life and I will never stop expressing my sincere gratitude and appreciation to Ndi Abia.
This is the last anniversary celebration before we head into general elections and a lot is at stake. I call on Abians to come out en-masse and participate in the electioneering process next year at all levels. The citizen still remains the strongest link in the chain of leadership enthronement and I urge you to judiciously exercise your civic responsibilities.
Once again, I caution that all political activities should be carried out in an atmosphere of peace and unity and with respect to the tranquility and cohesion of the state. Security agencies have been put on high alert to ensure that no individual or group threatens or jeopardizes the peace and unity of this state in the name of politicking and electioneering.
May I therefore call on Abians to continually uphold those in authority in prayers for the peace of the land and wisdom to discharge our duties. Of our own will, we can do nothing but with your prayers and through the grace of God, we will keep putting in our best to serve you diligently.
I therefore invite you to join me as we toast to 31 years of the creation of Abia State. For God to continually uphold our State. For the fulfillment of our God-given potentials and for peaceful electioneering processes next year.
ONYE NWEM GOZIE UNU
God bless our founding fathers, God bless Abia State
Happy 31st Anniversary Umu Nnem.
Okezie Ikpeazu, PhD
Governor of Abia State.