PHOTOS: Hoodlums Burn Buhari/APC Campaign Vehicle In Enugu

A campaign car belonging to the All Progressive Congress (APC) House of Assembly candidate running for Nkanu East State Constituency in Enugu State was set ablaze yesterday by hoodlums in the city of Enugu.

The candidate, Honourable Benjamin Nvute who spoke with newsmen in Enugu said the car which is a fully branded APC campaign car bore advertorial of President Muhammadu Buhari, Senator Ayogu Eze, Prince Lawrence Ezeh and himself and had been a major campaign vehicle in Nkanu East LGA of the state before the incident.

Nvute narrated how he had left the said car at a mechanic workshop around New Heaven Junction, with official documents and campaign materials inside, only for him to come to the place to discover that everything had been burnt to ashes.

“I bought my campaign vehicle for repair over the weekend and called the mechanic on 27/12/2018 at about 7am to find when he will be at the workshop only to be told that he was called at night that my campaign vehicle is on fire and all effort by fire service proved abortive. In the same workshop, a Lexus 350 with gearbox problem, no two front tyres but on support was packed with other vehicles yet the Buhari support car was singled out and set ablaze”.

The incident is one of many in Enugu, where campaign billboards of APC candidates have been torn severally by unknown people. Political commentators are worried about the development, which might make the usually peaceful city of Enugu into a volatile one as campaigns unfold in the state.

My First Assignment At Senate Is Access Roads Across Enugu East Senatorial Zone -PRINCE LAWRENCE EZEH

9d4f1dbd-dfb1-4a85-9ff5-a20922885c03Engineer Lawrence Ezeh, the Prince of Mburubu is running for the office of the senate to represent Enugu East Senatorial Zone, in Enugu State. Having embarked on several projects in Nkanu land to alleviate the sufferings of his people, neglected by the government, Ezeh got his ticket to senate by popular mandate.

Despite opposition to his ambition by the PDP led Enugu State Government, Ezeh’s chances are very bright as he is a darling of the people across the zone.

In this interview featured at Urban Radio FM, Enugu, he bares his mind on what he intends to do when he gets to the senate, and clarifies on why he had to jump ship with the PDP to emerge the candidate of the APC.

Excerpts:

People feel that you are not a stable politician. You jumped ship with your party because it didn’t favor you. How do you react to this?

When you talk about about people who are unstable, you should be talking about politicians who are unstable. But when out of sheer conspiracy, a set of people try to kill the dreams of your entire people, then obviously we should not be talking about being unstable here. I believe that the people of Enugu East Senatorial zone desire a change on the floor of the senate. They have had some people who did well, and those who did virtually nothing. And they have seen me as a very vibrant young man who have done a lot for the people of Enugu East senatorial zone without any form of government power. They are convinced that I am going to do more when put in the position of authority. I also know that I have the backing of these people. You need to understand that politics is a game of numbers, and these numbers is not the number of biscuits or sweets, but the number of the people. And i have got this number, the entirety of my people are aligned behind me. They are waiting to vote for me.

I have said this before, put the politicians aside, those who are looking for their meal tickets, who will tell you that even if PDP says we should vote for goat, we will do it. Its a party thing. the typo who see party as a meal ticket, and not for the betterment of the lots of their people.

So they see it as their own personal business  to put food on their table. Besides them are the ordinary other people whop believe that what they need are people like me who are young and vibrant enough to do better. They believe in me, and looking at all those people, and someone says its a party thing, for goodness sake, I don’t  see anything unstable about that.

So you are saying that what happened was injustice?

Yes, 100 percent injustice.

But some people think you didn’t do enough engagements with the people to deserve the ticket at the primaries

The entire delegates were aligned behind me. It took a whole lot of coercing, threats, a whole lot of things to be able to couple them to vote for a candidate who for once never came to any of them to canvass for votes. The man never for once approached an singe delegate, never approached any party stakeholder, and up till today, he has never come out open to tell anyone that he is running for senate. That is the political experiment they want to use our people to play, which is already falling like a pack of cards.

In the 6 local governments of your senatorial zone, what do you think is the major needs of your people?

Let me take it local government by local governments, and since chatty begins at home, let me begin from Nkanu East. If you take the route from Agbani to Ugbawka, to Nara to Mburubu and to Nomeh, its a death trap. If you also take it from Nara to Nkerefi, its also a death trap. they need roads. If you also take it from Agbani down to Amagunze and Ihuokpara, if not for the federal government ongoing project that President Muhammadu Buhari gave to the people of Nkanu East and West running to the boundaries of Ebonyi state, there is no other ongoing project from the state government. So when you veer off at the Three Corners, from there to Ihuokpara is also a death trap. So, the first major thing the people of Nkanu East needs at the moment is access roads, good access roads. If you just give us that, you have just give us like 50 percent of what we need. This is because it will help our women to convey their farm produce to the cities to sell.

In my place, when people die, nobody considers going to bury them until after rainy season. This is because there is no road. You take the corpse here you get stuck in the mud along with the corpse. This has been on since before 1999 till now, and since 1999, several other governments keep coming and making bogus promises and tell stories.

We heard you built roads in some areas. is that true?

Yes, the roads I built are internal roads in my community. If you also come to Nkanu West, besides this major road that is going there to Amagunze, being handled by the federal government, there is no other meaningful road project there. The Akpugo axis which they say the state government is doing, how ca you see a road that is 16 kilometers and you just do a singe kilometre in between?

TRANSGENERATIONAL LEADERSHIP: THE OKEZIE IKPEAZU EXAMPLE, by Sam Hart

“The era of listing roads and other infrastructure as achievements of a Governor is gone. These are basic things that leaders with access to State funds are required to do and it should not be celebrated. I do not want to be remembered for the roads I built and I have built 70 so far and will yet build more. I want to be remembered as the Governor who opened Abia State up to rapid industrial development as I believe that it is the only way we can leave a truly lasting legacy for generations to come”.

The above quote is an excerpt from Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu’s remarks during his interactive session with Abians resident in Cairo, Egypt as part of his schedule in Cairo where he was a listed Keynote Speaker at one of the Sessions at the Intra-African Trade Fair hosted by the African Export-Import Bank which held in Cairo, Egypt from December 11 to 17th, 2018.

That Governor Ikpeazu was in Cairo was indicative of his leadership credentials. He was selected to be a Speaker at an event that had Presidents and Heads of International Agencies in attendance. His invitation and slot to speak was in recognition of his pioneering role in promoting Trade and Investment in Africa. It was a celebration and endorsement of his new status as the drum-major for promotion of local goods – a status which has earned him global accolade and set him apart as a leader with a difference.

A week prior to the Cairo outing, Governor Ikpeazu was at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, as guest of President Muhammadu Buhari where the definitive Agreement for the Enyimba Economic City was signed. At that event, he was lauded by President Buhari for his foresight and doggedness in pursuing the project to fruition.

The Enyimba Economic City is an examplar of the power of vision and determined leadership.

A project of gargantuan proportions that would scare mere mortals into trepidation yet from the onset, Governor Ikpeazu took up the gauntlet and went round the world marketing it. From China to America, Rwanda to Gambia, London to Abuja, the Governor was all over the place putting the entire weight of his office and reputation behind the project and winning believers wherever he went like the Apostles of old. Today, the Ruyi Group of China, one of the largest conglomerates in the world who are world leaders in Garment Production and Power Generation are anchor-tenants at the Enyimba Economic City.

Governor Ikpeazu was in China wooing the group on four different occasions and when President Buhari went to China to sign off on Investment Agreements between Nigeria and China, the Chairman of the Ruyi Group, which has also agreed to invest in other parts of Nigeria, stated that it was the doggedness and determination of Governor Ikpeazu that convinced him to sign off on the agreement to invest Billions of Dollars into Nigeria.

A champion of the drive to promote local goods, Governor Ikpeazu also used the same midas touch to place Aba firmly on the map of global business reckoning. Today, Aba producers, who were hitherto operating at sub-local level, are global players. The Governor sent 30 Aba shoemakers to China (all of them traveling abroad for the first time in their lives) to learn automated shoe manufacturing but more importantly as he shared then and which has become obvious, to open them up to global possibilities and for the world to take note that Aba producers are no longer local champions.

He did not stop with China. He also hosted a Made In Aba fashion show in Abuja and in New York, USA. The world took note. Today, hardly any serious global fashion exhibition takes place without an invitation to Aba producers. The real catch is that the Government does not have to sponsor them anymore. Governor Ikpeazu showed the world that they can travel and now, National and global entities are sponsoring Aba producers for the world to see and for them to travel and exhibit their products.

In Cairo at the Intra-African Trade Fair, four Aba Producers are showcasing their products all-expense paid by different organisations. Would they have been reckoned with if Governor Ikpeazu had not exposed them and their amazing capabilities to the world?

Few months ago, it was at events in South Africa and Rwanda and recently, another event in Gambia where Aba Producers were hosted by the President of Gambia who wanted them to produce accessories for the Gambian Security Forces.

Back home in Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari in his 2018 Budget Speech, Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo with his SME Clinics and Federal Agencies have all embraced Aba. The enabling environments are being created for the thriving of Aba businesses. Uninterrupted Power is being provided at Ariaria International Market. The Bank of Industry has kept N400M aside for Aba as support grant which they are accessing. Everyone is keen to give Aba a lifting hand.

Note that Governor Ikpeazu is not even a Member of the ruling party at the centre but he has charted an apolitical course where the elevation of his people is concerned. He will not be bogged down by politics in pursuit of the good of his people. He will do business with whoever needs to be wooed to bring development to Abia State. That is leadership.

A full automated shoe production line has been acquired and installation is ongoing. Aba will in a short while, consolidate its status as the prime destination for shoes production in West and Central Africa. Orders are on standby and producers, who hitherto went abroad to produce their designs are pre-booking production time at the factory as soon as it comes on stream.

A popular saying goes ‘show me where to stand and I will move the world’. All Aba producers needed was to be shown where to stand. Governor Ikpeazu with his transgenerational leadership philosophy provided a platform for them and hoisted them up and the world has taken note.

Aba can no longer be ignored. No longer are they fake goods merchants and replicators. They have been given the confidence to stamp their name on their products and proudly own their creations. Governor Ikpeazu from day one as Governor till date has been wearing only items of clothing produced in Aba and people have had no choice than to follow suit.

In Umuahia, Governor Ikpeazu in characteristic fashion, took up the gauntlet to ensure that Golden Guinea Breweries Plc, the largest employer of private labour in the City, comes back to life after over 10 years of lying moribund. He took the proposal of the new owners of the brewery to the Vice President and obtained approval for government lenders to support the funding of the enterprise. With that Presidential approval, the Nigerian Export-Import Bank extended a huge loan facility to the brewery and all equipments have been purchased, installed and tested. The famous Golden Guinea Beer brand has been test-brewed at the new line and all systems are go. Recruitment is currently on-going at the brewery pursuant to imminent re-opening. All it needed was dogged, determined, foresighted leadership and when it mattered most, Governor Ikpeazu stepped up to the plate.

Leadership is not just about roads and bridges. That is a given like Governor Ikpeazu said. Leadership is the ability to sit down and see far. To give your followers a place to stand and chart their own cause. To lay foundations for an Iroko Tree who’s immediate growth you may not witness but which will grow to provide shelter, food and a resting place for different species long after you may have left the scene.

Politicians plan for the next election. Leaders plan for the next generation. The seeds Governor Ikpeazu is sowing today in Abia State may not all fully manifest in the course of his tenures. But he is putting his all into it, averse to vain-glory but resolute in his determination that his people must enjoy economic emancipation.

May God continue to guide and protect him.

hartng@gmail.com

WHY WE REMOVED LAGOS COORDINATOR-ATIKULATED AGENDA

THE NATIONAL Office of Atikulated Agenda 2019 hereby wish to inform the General Public that the erstwhile Coordinator of the organization in Lagos State, Bishop Victor David Enweruzor has been sacked and no more represents the organization.

Enweruzor unfortunately, has been going about different social media groups making false claims as to why he was abruptly sacked from his position, despite the fact that Atikulated Agenda 2019 has as much as possible, tried to keep the matter off the public glare to avoid embarrassing him. However, these clarifications have become necessary due to his lies and false claims:

1. Bishop Enweruzor claimed that he brought two groups- Shining Rock and… to join Atikulated Agenda 2019, and gave himself credit for the inauguration of these groups across the country.
The truth is that these two groups were introduced to Atikulated Agenda by the South West Regional Coordinator. He also financed the inauguration, air tickets and hotel bills of Bishop Enweruzor to Abuja, along with four other members for a number of days in the FCT.

2. Bishop Enweruzor has been in the habit of extortion of funds from members of Atikulated Agenda in Lagos, and would demand that money be given to him whenever he goes for meetings or inaugurations. This is not the operational method of our noble group. If members choose to give financial support to a Coordinator or official, that’s fine, but he DEMANDS for it;
3. Enweruzor began to lambast the Director General, Chief Emeka Kalu and the regional coordinator after the hosting of a regional rally of the group. Why? The regional rally was organized by the Regional Coordinator, but Enweruzor wanted to take glory for it, and insisted that he organized it. He was infuriated because the National Office gave a little financial support to the Regional Coordinator for the rally instead of himself.
4. He then began to instigate SOME members of the Lagos State chapter to INSULT and HARASS the DG, Regional Coordinator and other National Officers of Atikulated Agenda 2019 in the Lagos State Whatsapp forum.
5. All the National Officers who requested that the matter be left for the State and National directors to discuss OUTSIDE the forum were either insulted or harassed. For two days, the DG made fervent appeals to the State Coordinator and members to stop embarrassing Atikulated Agenda in the public space all to no avail. Worse still, Victor Enweruzor refused to call them to order.
6. Finally on Tuesday, 11th December, the National Secretary banned members from discussing the matter further, stating that the matter must be left for the Group’s leaders to address. In less than 10 minutes, he, the DG and other National Officers of the group were expelled from the Whatsapp group.
7. Promptly, the DG sacked the State Coordinator and disbanded the Lagos chapter, setting up a committee to reorganize the chapter.
8. Victor Enweruzor began to call the DG and other national officials to beg for review of the decision, but unknown to them, he had other plans. Under 24 hours, a story appeared on the social media, and was captured on Opera News where he led the disbanded group to join another support group.
9. Aside this, he has been going about castigating this group and telling so many lies about us, hence this explanation became necessary.
10. The General Public should take note, and be aware that he is no more a part of the Atikulated Agenda 2019, whose membership spans the 36 states, and in over 50 countries across the world. Whoever is working with Bishop Victor Enweruzor does so at his or her own risk.

Signed,
Alhaji Kabir Sabe K Sauri,
National Publicity Secretary, Atikulated Agenda 2019.

INTERVIEW: My Senatorial Race Is All-Nkanu Agenda -Prince Lawrence Ezeh

Prince Lawrence Ezeh is the Senatorial candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) for the Enugu East Senatorial Zone.

In the this interview, Prince Ezeh, who is better known as the Prince of Mburubu explains why he is the best candidate for the pairing at the moment, and why he is convinced he will win.

Excerpts :

Who is the Prince of Mburubu, and what is your political experience that is needed in the legislative business?

When you say the Prince of Mburubu, you are talking about a very humble young man just like the name attached to it, who hails from Mburubu community in Nkanu East Local Government of Enugu State. I have also heard in some political spheres the issue of what I have garnered as experience in the politics. When one talks about political experience, its not just about the political office a man has held, because I have heard a lot of people make insinuations, especially from the government angle that I have not held political positions.

But please, I want us to understand that politics is not just limited to party politics. its also not limited to the positions that you have occupied. Every human being is a political animal. For you to rise from your little cradle stages in life and get to the public sphere, obvious you have been able to go through a whole lot of politicking. When you look at power as only in the context of politics, you are wrong. Politics is just an element of power. There is economic power. When you meet those in the banking sector and those that are in the oil and gas industry where we operate, a lot of horse trading go in there. These things are politics, and these are the things that also help to expose you to the public. so, to bring us to the ladder where we are today, we have been able to go through fire. No gold shines without going through fire. I didn’t just come up to the public sphere from nowhere. It was gradual and we started growing, and this growth, you go through different strata of politics. this politics I mentioned must not be within the context of political positions you have held.

I have been in politics since 1999, and have been part of those sponsoring the PDP financially. Because of my businesses, I have never really shown interest in running for office. I showed that interest in 2010/11 because there was a lot of clamor to run for the office of the local government chairman. At some point, the then administration of Sullivan Chime said i should just hold on, after some time I should go. I wasn’t really craving for those positions because I wanted to be a local government chairman. I was looking for a platform to be able to showcase to the world the stuff that I am made of, to show the kind of vision I have for my people. But in the usual PDP style and the way they manage their processes, they said I have to wait, another person has to go. at some point I said that if I continue to wait before clinching a political position, it might take ages with the way they are going about it.

So I went in and started projects implementation for my people with my personal resources. For the experiences we talk about, except for those who are occupying the positions of the governor of the state who obviously inherited a backlog of employees from the employment bureau, none of them can match the number of people I have under my employ. i have over 250 people that I pay monthly.

In which areas have you excelled as a business man that gave you the wealth of experience you talk about?

I started from mere souvenir jobs, handling souvenirs for politicians and companies, making cards and wall clocks and others. From there gradually, we were able to raise some resources to be able to gradually get an office. From there, we were able to get in to the oil and gas. In the oil and gas industry, we got into the provision of industrial gases for companies. gradually from there, we progressed and today we provide a whole lot of logistic support for the oil and gas industry, we provide some other engineering services, from insulation to cathodic protection, and all that. These are parts of what the energy aspect of my company do. our office is located in the highbrow Olu Obasanjo Way, Port Harcourt and our fabrication yard which is over 60 plots of land, and the plants are located in the industrial area of Port Harcourt, the Trans Amadi area.

When we got to a certain level in the oil and gas, we decided to diversify into the oil and gas industry. when we got into the construction industry, we started gradually by working for others and hiring other peoples equipment, and today as we speak, we have a very expansive equipment yard that houses our own equipment. As we speak now, we are not only in the oil and gas, but more into the construction industry. We have projects here and there that are ongoing. So when I say I have over 250 people under my employment, I am not saying it for the love of words. its something you need to see. I have also picked a lot of young men off the streets even in Enugu here who are working for me right now. These are the basic reasons why a lot of people feel that I am the right man for this job. They believe that if I can be able to get young men off the streets, trained and empowered, then if I have access to political positions, I will do better.

I know before now you were in the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, please can you throw some light into what led to your sudden change to the All Progressives Congress, APC?

Like I have said before, the sudden change was quite simple. I have an aspiration that goes beyond party platform. This yearning is actually coming from my people, and when I say my people, I speak more of the Nkanu East and the entire Enugu East Senatorial zone. We need effective representation on the floor of the Senate. After the era of Chief Ken Nnamani on the floor of the House, we have had very abysmally poor representation on the floor of the Senate. So, my people now felt that we need a total change from what it is now to where we actually need to be. Where we need to be now is to get us to where we can comparatively compete very favorably on the floor with other senators in terms of attraction of social amenities to our people and in terms of ensuring that our voices are effectively heard on the floor of the Senate, because apart from the time of Ken Nnamani, from the time of Chimaroke Nnamani on the floor of the Senate, which for the entire of the legislative season he succeeded only in raising his hand once, and never raised a voice, so obviously our voice were caged on the floor of the Senate.

Senator Gil Nnaji also came in after him, and same thing also was going on. Never a time will you watch the NTA popular programme called ‘The Gavel’, where you can be able to watch your senators and be proud of them airing their views and airing the views that they are representing the interest of your people. So our people felt that its high time we sent someone who could be able to get our voices heard again, and they found that person in me. So my aspiration is more like an Nkanu-driven agenda, so it wasn’t really about me but has always been about our people. At some point when the PDP decided to take a very funny decision to recycle old hands, the we saw quite well that the whole essence of that our struggle was going to end in futility. So we saw truly speaking, that the present-day government is not interested in quality. They are not interested in our people, because if they are interested in our people, we see no reason why the governor of Enugu State will be running for two positions at the same time. As I speak to you, he is running for the governorship position and at the same time running for the Enugu East senatorial position. So if you ask me who I am in the race with, I will tell you I am in the race with the governor, not Chimaroke.

Why did you say that?

Its quite simple. You have always heard Chimaroke’s name being mentioned in this race, have you seen him? The answer is no. The state government managed all the processes of the screening in PDP during the screening period. in fact, they even started by procuring the party form for him. Chimaroke is not in Nigeria. If you truly want to know whether the state government has a hand in what I am saying, go down the lane and look at how the processes of the screening was managed. Who actually took Chimaroke’s documentation for screening? Chimaroke was not here, he is still over there. So he never took part in the screening. So after the screening, the agents of state government also made sure that large sums of money was distributed on the grounds of the primaries to ensure that Chimaroke emerges, and party faithful were called to Government House to ensue that Chimaroke was returned.

Chimaroke never saw the delegates for one day, he never met any party faithful, he was never in any local government. We went round, carried out all our campaigns, carried out every process to sensitize the people to vote for us not until agents of the government decided otherwise.

So tell me why some delegates somewhere will decide to vote for Chimaroke Nnamani who never for once went to make his intentions known to any of them running for office, leaving behind those of us who have toiled day and night to win them to our sides and were highly disposed to vote for us. Go round and speak with PDP faithful in Enugu State and they will tell you clearly that it was purely the business of the state government.

Having studied the area you will manage as a senator, what convinces you that you are going to win?

What convinces me is quite simple. Election is a game of number, and number is the people. Just go around Enugu metropolis and try to interview the people and ask them who they are going to vote for, when it comes to Enugu East Senatorial zone. They will not tell you its any other person other than me. I have launched people at the background to go and run a check, a survey. I didn’t just feel, politics is not about what you feel. I am a strategist, I don’t just speak. carry out a survey, except there are other forms of manipulations the PDP wants to do to get the people, but if it is actually casting of votes by the people, this elections is as good as won by me. I have that confidence.

You talked about perceived manipulations that could arise from the polls. Have you made any arrangement for this, having looked at our past of electoral processes that are mired by manipulations?

Its not whether I have made arrangements, the question is, are there manipulations? because when I said it, I don’t mean during elections. The PDP has started the manipulations now. Now they are going to secondary schools and asking the students to bring in their PVCs, and are also getting to the teachers and are telling them, ‘if you don’t get your PVCs, you will not get your salary’.

We read about these things every day, so when you read these things everyday, what you do in your own capacity is to make sure that these things are blocked. When these came up, we made sure we brought it to the public glare by ensuring that they went online, and that they are published in the dailies.

I must assure you that the rigging will not be business as usual. Some keep asking why did I go into APC, and all that? My brother, its only APC that can protect my votes. people are ready to vote for me to represent them, because they are tired of voting these old people who obviously will get to Abuja and shut the for and will never give access to anybody, nobody has access to them anymore. They are wiling to vote for a younger person who is vey accessible to everyone. I cannot, after knowing that people are willing, committed, and are waiting to vote for me, PDP will come and tell you don’t worry, its a party decision. decision my foot. I have to go to a party that I know is capable of giving me the mandate, and protecting my votes. I know these votes will come, and when these votes come, they will help me to protect them.

How will they protect it for me? The APC will ensure that the security of my votes will not be compromised, and that the security agencies will not compromise during the elections. They will also ensure that INEC will not compromise during the elections. We are already aware of the arrangements on ground to rig, and the boasts of the PDP of the huge amount of money it has put on ground to buy up everything, buy up INEC, buy security. We are waiting for them to buy all. But we known that the Federal government will not allow anybody to compromise INEC or compromise the security. These two are taken care of, and nobody will be able to rig the elections.

Are you saying that you are sure that INEC will conduct a free election?

Free, fair and credible elections.

Its a known fact that in the history of Enugu State, no other party has ever won elections apart from the PDP. Are you saying that you are setting a precedence by being the first outside the PDP to break that jinx?

It’s as good as saying that yes, in the history of Enugu state, there has never been a time that there is a competitive elections in Enugu State. Yes nobody has ever been able to win elections because there has never been any form of competitive political contest in Enugu State. Reason is because even when you are on ground, even when you have the capacity to win election, even when the people eventually vote for you, you will obviously not win because we had a PDP-controlled federal government and a PDP-controlled state government. So, the state will always connive with the federal to rig elections. So this case of the current elections, there is going to be a whole lot of surprises that will spring up.

Our people make a lot of mistakes. The politicians in the populace don’t constitute more than 15-20 per cent. So the rest 80 percent non partisan populace don’t like politicians, they don’t like politics. Above all, they believe that they are all dubious, and are people who don’t tell the truth. This is because the PDP has dragged us for so many years, telling us the so many things they will do for us, but they end up doing none. But when the elections come, these people want to ventilate their anger through their votes. But those votes are never brought to fore because many things happen. You see elections going on and people are drinking at beer parlors waiting for results to arrive. So when the results come, they now begin to do all manipulations, and some funny resukts will be announced.

Expect serious surprises this time around, because the people are determined to vote out PDP, just watch what will happen in Enugu State. The people are determined to vote out PDP because they are not performing.

Do you think the APC will be able to work in unity in the coming elections, since their are aggrieved members of the party from the primaries?

The party is very much ready to win elections in the state. Some of these divisions are creations of the state government which they now push across to the party. The state government wants to make sure that the APC in the state is divided so as to make sure that they don’t have a common front to win elections. as much as I know, I haven’t seen any other position that is not contested by two or more people, other than that of the governor.

But you have two party chairmen in Enugu state…

No, one party chairman is what APC has. These things are make-believe, like I told you. When you sit down and you have for instance, Oshiomhole as the national chairman of the party, the national chairman obviously would work with all the state chairmen of the party. We just had primaries in all the tastes. We just had candidates names that were submitted to INEC in all the states. We had a whole lot of activities that also took place before and after the primaries. Between you and myself, are you saying that the candidates that won primaries, that their names were submitted to INEC? The answer is yes. The next question is, through who? Thats why I told you that these things are just cooked up by the state government. We had primaries and names were submitted and after names were submitted, we went through the right processes, through the right persons. When you have a divided house, there will be two conventions, and they will bring in two different lists. It happened in PDP last time. they will be struggling and either the group with upper hand is used or their will be harmonization. But in this case, there is no such thing.

Whatever transpired between Ben Nwoye and Okey Ogbodo happened before I became a member of the party. I also don’t want to drag myself into what transpired then. But as far as I know,I and other candidates submitted all our documents through Dr Ben Nwoye.

The Attack on President Buhari by Abia APC is Despicable and Misguided

Our attention has been drawn to media publications to the effect that the Secretary of Uche Ogah/Orji Uzor Kalu faction of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abia State, Mr Perfect Okorie, is attacking President Muhammad Buhari and Minister of Trade & Investment, Mr Okechukwu Enelamah, over the definitive agreements entered into between the Federal Government and Abia State Government on the Enyimba Economic City.

While it is not our intention to defend Mr President’s capacity to review, approve and enter into agreements presented to him, it is important to place on record that the review of Enyimba Economic City Project was done over a period of two years by relevant federal government agencies and international investors who found merit in the project and copiously recommended it as meeting the best global standards for similar projects.

It is also instructive to note that long before the final definitive agreement with the federal government, the private sector promoters of the Enyimba Economic City had satisfied local and international conditions for the project to take off, including payment of license fee of $600,000, payment for the design of the city in Singapore at a cost of $1m as well as endorsement of local agreements with host communities of the project in the concerned local government areas of the state.

Enyimba Economic City is the single biggest investment project in the south east region of Nigeria since the end of the civil war and Abians, especially members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), are proud that the project was conceptualised and pursued to this level by the PDP government of Abia State led by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu who is the Chief Vision Bearer and Promoter of the revolutionary project.

That the factional APC candidate in Abia State, Mr Uche Ogah, sponsored the unfortunate scathing attacks on President Buhari, instead of applauding the positive collaboration between the APC-led Federal Government and the state government, shows the extent that members of APC in the state hold the president in disdain. According to them, the president is vulnerable to being scammed and was indeed scammed.

The statement that “Ikpeazu can deceive President Buhari, not Abians who know the truth and cannot be hoodwinked” is an unfortunate and despicable commentary on the extent this band of political voyagers who are apparently running away from corruption trials hold the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Federal Republic of Nigeria. We will rather leave the Presidency to address this attack on the leadership ability of Mr President even while recommending that Abians take note and do the needful by voting for PDP candidates in 2019.

Contrary to the statement of the Abia APC faction, there are no abandoned projects in Abia State as the Governor who has to date delivered more than 67 completed road projects is still actively working on 94 other ongoing ones including Faulks (Ariaria) Road, Aba Road, Umuahia, Osisioma Flyover and others. A visit to the project sites will confirm that contractors are on site delivering projects that will last for decades after the Ikpeazu administration’s 8 years tenure, unlike the fabled “Taiwan roads” constructed by the Orji Uzor Kalu administration which never survived one rainy season.

We wish to use this medium to also alert Mr President on the harm members of his party, APC, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and Contractors of NDDC are doing to his image through poor execution of Niger Delta Development Commission(NDDC) road projects cornered by them and their proxies in the name of “attracting NDDC projects” to our dear State.

Mr President may do well to note that not even one of the so called NDDC road projects in Abia State survived 2018 rainy season as they have all failed and are now urgently requiring fresh rehabilitation. Nothing could be more deceptive than taking money from NDDC for projects earmarked for the state only to execute terribly poor road projects in the name of President Buhari and his party.

At no time did Governor Ikpeazu pledge to abandon PDP for APC and such thoughts must have been a figment of the imagination of those who do not understand the need for a state Governor to work with the federal government and its agencies even if across party lines to deliver dividends of democracy to the people. We therefore have no apologies to offer to those who place partisan politics before development and attempt to sacrifice the people’s prosperity on the altar of parochial sentiments.

The PDP in Abia State is proud of the good relationship between its leader, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu and the current federal government which has positively yielded dividends for the people of the state. Those who have chosen to mischievously twist the essence of this relationship to mean any other thing and suit their selfish and narrow agenda must have been dwelling in political fool’s paradise.

We look forward to the coming visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to perform the groundbreaking ceremony for this project which is sure to deliver a minimum of 650,000 new jobs and support the rapid economic development of Abia State, South East region and Nigeria in general.

We sincerely appreciate the support of President Buhari, Minister Enelamah and others who have always supported this revolutionary initiative.

That the members of the shambolic Abia APC chose to attack President Buhari and the visionary Enyimba Economic City Project is yet another evidence that they do not mean well for the people of the state and must be resoundingly rejected in 2019.

Sir Don Ubani

State Publicity Secretary

PDP, Abia State

11/12/18

ABSU Versus Abiapoly: Tale of Two Abia Parastatals

State parastatals are by law, at least, semi autonomous with powers to generate revenue from their operations and use the revenue to run their affairs without remitting any portion to state government account. Parastatals’ salary structures are usually different from that of other civil servants in the state as they determine, to a large extent, what they can pay as wages according to the specific wage structure within their Labour group.

As at today, 10th December, 2018, staff of Abia State University (ABSU), Uturu, are already receiving their November 2018 wages while staff of Abia State Polytechnic (Abiapoly) are currently protesting months of unpaid wages.

Given that both are parastatals of Abia State, you might ask why this is so.

It’s simple!

In the past, core state civil servants working with Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) lobbied to be transferred to parastatals like Abiapoly with more attractive wage structure and regularity of wage payments. Opportunity for all kinds of deals were also available.

In 2015, after Governor Ikpeazu’s administration was inaugurated, he engaged the management, local Labour union and other stakeholders of Abiapoly to find out how his administration could help the institution improve its operation and end the era of frequently embarking on strikes which usually impacted academic activities negatively.

Following that engagement, it was discovered that the institution owed about N2bn loan obtained at commercial interest rate. The institution had more bank accounts than the number of licensed commercial banks in Nigeria.

The stakeholders of Abiapoly passionately appealed to Governor Ikpeazu to help the institution exit the debilitating loan whose interest they were servicing monthly with millions of naira, and promised that if the burden of the loan was relieved of them they would be able to operate with the revenue they make from students as well as establish other income yielding ventures to enable them operate smoothly.

Governor Ikpeazu paid off the N2b facility without hesitation and has continued to support the institution with N90m monthly subventions which are not necessarily to be applied to wage payment.

Assuming the Governor had chosen to ignore their pleas but continued paying only the statutory monthly subventions, you can divide N2 billion by N90m to see how many months of subventions that would have amounted to and then add more than 30 months of N90m subventions already paid to date. Meanwhile the institution continued to receive school fees from students of about N53,000 per session.

Abiapoly’s wage bill in 2015 hovered around N170m monthly with the student population declining from a high of 26,000 to current less than 12,000.

I will explain later, why, in my view, the student population is declining.

On the flip side, Governor Ikpeazu met an ABSU that had some backlog of unpaid salary but today the institution is up to date with payment of workers’ salary, the student population is increasing and they now have a new campus outside Uturu with their local and international rating improving astronomically.

Aside from the current general strike called by Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), staff of ABSU have not embarked on any local strike or protest since Governor Ikpeazu came on board. Academic activities was never disrupted in the past 42 months.

Given that the major revenue source for tertiary academic institutions is student school fees, why is the student population at Abiapoly dropping?

The answer can only be found within the school. Information available to me indicate that lecturers of the school concurrently teach at a private Polytechnic in Aba, in addition to their existing work at Abiapoly, and in exchange for the PP (private practice) they receive monthly payments of between N30,000 and N50,000 for teaching exactly the same thing they teach at Abiapoly and receive monthly salary of N200,000 to N500,000 in addition to pensions and other allowances.

With low overhead, the proprietor of the private Polytechnic is able to reduce students school fees below the level of Abiapoly in addition to guaranteeing zero strikes and protests. The effect is that students now prefer the private Polytechnic for reasons of low fees and academic calendar stability. The private institution is now advanced in the construction of its permanent site located around the Owerrinta education cluster.

I will never support any worker being owed his monthly wages but when I see a leaking pocket I will also not advise anyone to put his money there. When Abiapoly workers protest non payment of wages many react emotionally and shout “Abia State government” without even bothering to look at the extant law setting up the institution to see who exactly has direct responsibility to pay the workers.

Permit me to repeat this: Abia State Government is not statutorily responsible for the payment of the monthly salary of parastatals’ workers as those institutions are permitted to make revenue and use same to pay their workers. Mismanagement of local institutions and over bloated wage bills are responsible for failure of some parastatals to pay workers regularly.

The management team of financially distressed parastatals should help sow up the leaking pockets, prioritize workers’ wellbeing and ensure that they only have the workers they need with requisite qualifications and then take necessary measures to improve revenue inflow.

As a responsible government, the Ikpeazu-led administration will continue to help the ailing parastatals in the hope that they will also help themselves by doing the right thing. We will continue to pay subventions and make other extraordinary provisions to support the institutions because Abians are working there and they also deserve their wages.

It should be noted that all Abia State Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA) that the state government is directly responsible for the payment of their monthly wages are UP TO DATE as they are already receiving November 2018 wages. Abia State Government workers are also the BEST PAID in the south east region of Nigeria and that is why most non Abians want to work in Abia State civil service. This administration also resisted advice to slash wages, as others did, because we believe that our workers deserve the best.

While the monthly wage bill of Abia State is currently around N2.7b that of a Sister state is N900m, including pension. Our monthly pension bill alone is more than N425m.

The Ikpeazu administration recognizes that regular payment of workers in our parastatals is one of the challenges we are yet to totally solve.

We will solve the problem.

Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State (BCA) used to have challenges with regular salary payment as a parastatal, but the state government took over the payment of the workers and today BCA workers are up to date with salaries and their pensioners are NOT OWED even a month’s pension.

There are industry issues that make it impossible for the state government to take over parastatals like Abiapoly, receive their revenue and pay their workers directly. Institutions like Abiapoly operate under certain national regulatory framework that enabled them to be licensed in the first place as largely autonomous entities.

Interestingly, Abiapoly workers earn higher wages than workers in other state polytechnics in the South East. In fact, some of their lecturers earn higher than Professors at Abia State University and I heard recently that they have a department with 2 students but 4-6 lecturers.

Abiapoly and other parastatals can help themselves through internal reformation of their operations, honest self regulation and creation of new revenue streams. Under the watch of Vice Chancellor Prof Ikonne, ABSU is producing and selling bottled water, writing books and prudently managing external grants to support revenue growth. The student population is growing with new courses being accredited. They are using online school fees payment platforms to cut out fake receipts and payment avoidance by students. ABSU is even making revenue from providing accommodation to students and I have repeatedly wondered why the authorities of Abiapoly cannot go to private accommodation owners to negotiate on behalf of students and charge a small premium to rent the rooms to the students. In my undergraduate days, our school did not own any hostel but rented buildings and charged us a premium to provide “school accommodation”.

Abiapoly is capable of making similar internal operational changes to help themselves and I personally recommend that they do so. The government will surely support them with bridge financing to pay genuine workers as nobody is happy when workers are not paid, whether in public or private sector institutions.

In the coming days the state government will intervene at Abiapoly to ensure that the workers enjoy merry Christmas with other workers paid directly by the state government who are already receiving November wages and will soon commence preparation for December salary payment.

Ultimately, the administration that thought out Enyimba Economic City will also solve issues of outstanding salary payment in our parastatals. That is a promise that will be kept without mass retrenchment or slashing of workers’ wages by any fraction across board.

Those campaigning on parastatals salary distress should lay out their cogent thoughts backed with figures for the world to see. Mass retrenchment is not a solution but rather a pyrrhic approach that will ultimately lead to increased security expenses and social upheavals.

FG, Abia State sign agreement on Enyimba Economic City

The Federal Government and Abia State Government have signed definitive agreements for the Enyimba Economic City, in Abia State.

The agreements signed marked the commencement of work at the site of the Enyimba Economic City.

The groundbreaking event of the city is expected to be done soon by President Muhammadu Buhari

Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu led a delegation of host communities of the Enyimba Economic City from Abia South in Abia State for the signing of definitive agreements between the Federal Government of Nigeria represented by the Nigeria Special Economic Zone Investment Company Limited and the Abia State Government represented by the Enyimba City Development Company Limited, at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa Abuja on Friday.

President Buhari and other top Federal Government functionaries witnessed the agreement signing ceremony at the Council chambers.

Enyimba Economic City is an audacious and game changing project for Nigeria.

It is a 9,803 Hectares of new economic city, spanning three (3) Local Government Areas of Abia State, Ukwa East, Ukwa West and Ugwunagbo.

The land is at the center of the five (5) Southeast and four (4) Southsouth States and has the right characteristics and ingredients to drive massive economic expansion of the region and by extension Nigeria.

It has major arterial, intercity roads connections. It is near existing sea ports (Onne and PortHacourt) and proposed Akwa Ibom Deep Sea Port.

It has proximity to Airports (Owerri, PortHacourt and Uyo). It has functional gas pipelines and boarder Owaza gas fields. It is transversed by existing National Rail line, PortHacourt – Maiduguri etc.

The key pillars of Enyimba Economic City is to create a global business hub that connects the nine (9) Southeast and Southsouth States, build first class infrastructure in the location, including dedicated power and attract economic activities that are mainly driven by manufacturing and supported by other uses e.g. Logistics, Medical, Entertainment, Education, Lifestyle Residential etc.

The target is to attract proactively long term local and foreign investments, thereby integrating Nigerian businesses (manufacturing and services) into regional and global supply / value chains.

This project is combining the clear focus of the private sector and the enabling powers of the Governments at all level. Hence, it is a Private Public Partnership (PPP) of Crown Realties Plc, the Host Communities, Abia State Government and the Federal Government of Nigeria under project Made In Nigeria for Export (MINE) of Federal Government of Nigeria.

On that basis, the Federal Government has designated Enyimba Economic City a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) with Free Trade Zone Status and one of the three (3) pilots that include Kano and Lagos. It has also taken 20% equity in the project.

The First Phase of the project is fully designed and the projection is that construction will commence in Q1, 2019 and various major anchor tenant discussions are progressing well for manufacturing transfers from China, Germany and other Countries to the new city.

The positioning and master planning of the city was done by some of the bests in the business in the World, Surbana Jurong of Singapore and CBRE of India in collaboration with local firms. The positioning study indicate that Enyimba Economic City will at capacity, provide over 625,000 jobs, urban housing of over 300,000 units, urban population of more than 1.5 Million people. It is projected that the city will provide more than 2,000industrial/ business units, with estimated annual value output of more than $5 Billion.

Source: The Nation

Is Alex Otti a Closet Fan of Governor Ikpeazu?, By John Okiyi Kalu

After watching the video of the governorship campaign launch of factional candidate of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Abia State, Mazi Alex Otti, it dawned on me that he just might be a closet fan of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu’s school of good governance, only that personal desperation to appropriate the title of “Governor of Abia State” to himself has made it difficult for him to acknowledge that and join hands with the incumbent to develop the state.

This piece is not necessarily about the legendary political desperation of Mazi Otti that compelled him to change his place of origin from Arochukwu to Isiala Ngwa and made him lie to our people that he had secured a $100b facility from the International Financial Corporation (IFC) to fix Aba in 2015 at the premises of Aba Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (ACCIMA).

I will rather focus on examining the content of the recent video of Otti vis-à-vis what Governor Ikpeazu has done and continued doing since May 29, 2015, and leave you to confirm if indeed Otti is merely a fan of Governor Ikpeazu’s school of administration who desperately wants powerful himself as an end on its own.

Before embarking on this review, it is important to remind Abians that in those 16 years Otti mentioned as bad years of PDP in Abia State he was not only a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who was registered at Arochukwu Ward III, as at July 18, 2014, with membership card number 16 but also one that could be rightly referred to as a chieftain of the party. He was also a key stakeholder of the party who publicly and privately romanced the leaders of Abia State, did business with the state, helped to manage the state’s FAAC and pension accounts and indeed declared to contest for Governor under PDP.

Not even once did then PDP member Otti criticize the Orjj Kalu or T. A. Orji Governments in public until he found himself being zoned out of the Governorship by our State’s charter of equity. If PDP of those years was indeed an evil party that misled Abia State, when will Otti take personal responsibility for being part of the so called evil cabal?

The only time Alex Otti has not been intimately involved with Abia leadership is under Governor Okezie Ikpeazu and even the worst critic of the incumbent Governor has acknowledged that while he has not solved all Abia challenges in less than 4 years, he has certainly solved many, changed the narrative and shown capacity cum willingness to do much more positive things for the people of the state.

If indeed more than N2 Trillion naira was frittered away by political leaders in Abia State within the period Otti mentioned, the real question should be how much of that passed through Mazi Otti directly and indirectly? What did he say or do while the alleged rape of Abia’s treasury happened?

A former Governor of Abia State is currently facing criminal trial over allegations of looting N7.2 billion from our treasury but for some inexplicable reasons Otti curiously failed to mention that but decided to comment on a mere allegation against another former Governor of Abia State who Otti also worked with but fell out with because he nobly chose to support our charter of equity that zoned the Governorship to Abia South Senatorial zone.

Even Otti must know that EFCC invitation does not approximate to conviction given that he (Otti) has also visited EFCC office several times to explain one thing or another, including his role in the alleged stealing of N2.2bn naira by a former Governor of Ekiti state. Is it to be accepted that because Otti visited EFCC severally to explain one thing or another that it constitutes conclusive indictment of Otti for corruption?

Interestingly, the former Governor of Abia State Otti made reference to is in Umuahia campaigning for re-election while the one he conveniently forgot to mention is battling to regain his freedom from EFCC and the courts.

While the Otti video should rightly be seen as his proposition to Ndi Abia in order to get their votes in 2019, a cursory review of his adumbrated solutions will reveal that he is merely regurgitating what Governor Ikpeazu is already doing with measurable degree of great success.

Permit me to take the Otti campaign proposal one by one and highlight what Governor Ikpeazu has done or is doing already on each item.

1. Make the payment of salaries a first item in the budget

Since his inauguration in 2015 Governor Ikpeazu made payment of salaries a first item in the budget and it is on record that there is no month he did not pay salaries first.

I can boldly state, without any fear of contradiction, that there is no single month that the administration of Governor Ikpeazu did not pay salaries to workers, especially those the state government has statutory responsibility to pay.

Granted that Mazi Otti has ZERO public sector management experience, it should still be easy for him to understand that there were months where revenue inflow to the coffers of the state were far below the wage bill of the state, which remains the highest in the south east region even when forensically reduced from the level inherited by the Ikpeazu-led administration to the current N2.7 billion level.

For instance, FAAC receipts for October, November and December 2015 hovered around N1.6b and N1.9b whereas the state’s wage bill was around N2.7 billion with internally generated revenue receipt standing at about N500m monthly average.

In those months of crushing economic crises leading up to the full entrance of Nigeria economy into the recession zone, Governor Ikpeazu paid workers first while those who could not be paid were the first to be paid the next month.

Obviously what Otti would have done differently would probably have been to borrow from commercial banks at high interest rates to bridge the gap or implement his much talked about downward review of salaries and “restructuring of the civil service in Abia State”.

If what the factional APGA candidate has against Governor Ikpeazu is his refusal to SACK Abia workers or pay them only a fraction of their actual monthly salary, as other states did, I don’t think Governor Ikpeazu should apologize for that.

The Ikpeazu economic management philosophy does not have provision for throwing Abia workers and their families into joblessness at a time of economic recession and socio-economic challenges. He will rather seek ways to improve the revenue base of the state in the short and long run than to inflict pains on Abia families and further hurt the social support structure keeping thousands of families away from starvation and crimes.

Interestingly, Mazi Otti who started his 2019 Governorship campaign on purported non-payment of salaries by the Ikpeazu administration may have become better educated on the actual state of affairs in that regard. Governor Ikpeazu is not owing any of the workers his government is statutorily expected to pay, as civil servants in all the 72 units that make up the Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the state government are up to date in salary payment and have already started receiving November 2018 wages as at today, December 7, 2018.

I wish to recommend that Mazi Otti get a copy of the legal instrument setting up state parastatals like Abia State University, Abia State Polytechnic, Health Management Board, Arochukwu College of Education, ABSUTH etc and educate himself on the fact that by law they are not paid by the state government and also do not remit any portion of their revenue to state coffers.

The law setting up state parastatals gave their managers the statutory power to generate revenue from their day to day operations and use same to pay workers and run the establishments without remitting one kobo to the state account. It is for this reason of financial autonomy that while some parastatals like Abia State Polytechnic whose revenue base is dwindling are experiencing challenges with regular payment of their workers whereas others like the Abia State University, Uturu, are up to date in workers’ wages payment even as their revenue continue to grow.

Interestingly, the current administration has given more financial support to Abia State Polytechnic than it has done to Abia State University. When Governor Ikpeazu came on board, he paid off a whopping N2bn commercial bank loan that allegedly crippled the operations of Abia State Polytechnic then, and in addition, has paid more monthly subventions to Abiapoly than to ABSU. Yet, ABSU is already paying November 2018 salaries whereas Abiapoly is months behind.

Governor Ikpeazu will continue to help financially ailing parastatals in the state to come out of distress without towing the preferred line of Mazi Otti: SACK, WAGE REDUCTION and RETRENCHMENT of workers as a show of “strong leadership”.

To Governor Ikpeazu, no worker needs to be retrenched or have his or her wages slashed as the managers of those financially challenged institutions only need to grow their internally generated revenue above their current wage levels and manage their expenditure within what they make monthly.

Mazi Otti should also verify the actual debt profile of the state as published by the Debt Management Office of the federal government, to see that Abia State Government led by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu is among the least indebted in the federation and is yet to take one kobo loan from any commercial bank, unlike in the past where Otti reportedly not only encouraged but also supported previous administrations in the state to borrow from commercial banks where he had interests.

2. Make Abia State safe and secure

Under the watch of Governor Ikpeazu, Abia State is rated the “Most Peaceful State in Nigeria” and statistically the second safest state in Nigeria, according to National Bureau of Statistics. A recent report by the highly rated Vanguard Newspaper indicates that the state is by far the safest in the South East Region. All that speaks to the premium Governor Ikpeazu places on securing the lives and properties of Abians, residents and visitors to the state included.

3. Create a new future for the youths

The best way to create a new and better future for Abia Youths is through education and job creation. It is therefore important to note that under Governor Ikpeazu’s watch, Abia State came first in West Africa School Certificate Examinations (WASCE), back to back, for 3 years.

Also, public school enrollment has improved from about 142,000 in 2015 to the current 634,000 pupils and a public primary school in Ohafia Local Government Area of Abia State was rated as the 3rd best among others in the 36 states of the federation by the federal ministry of education. Our school children have been awarded as the best in various local and international academic competitions.

On job creation, Governor Ikpeazu has pursued a model of education for employment to train our people in various technical skills that would ultimately make them employers of labor as well as acquire relevant skills to drive the unfolding industrial revolution in the state.

As is well known in the country, Governor Ikpeazu has gone further to promote entrepreneurship in the state through various skill development and capacity building programs which includes sending 30 Abia shoe makers to China to learn automated shoe making. Today, automated shoe making equipment has arrived the state from China and are currently being deployed at a new factory that will serve as the incubator for the emergence of automated shoe factories, a project that will soon be replicated across the state.

The administration has also supported the resuscitation of hitherto moribund factories, such as Golden Guinea Brewery and Aba Glass Industry, all in a bid to support job creation. Much more is in the pipeline.

4. Transform Abia into the Dubai of Africa

The vague sloganeering on transforming Abia overnight to Dubai is typical of the previous political statements made by Mazi Otti, including his much celebrated statement that he has obtained, as a private citizen, One Hundred Billion US Dollars ($100,000,000,000) loan from International Financial Corporation (IFC) to develop an industrial park at Aba, a statement which eventually turned out to be an effort at hypnotizing Abia voters to obtain their precious votes by trick.

It is on record that Governor Ikpeazu has practically and verifiably moved to establish Enyimba Economic City (EEC) with the project already approved by the Federal Government of Nigeria while President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has already made budgetary commitment to invest an initial Ten Billion Naira (N10,000,000,000) in the project.

World’s biggest Chinese Textile manufacturing company, Ruyi Group, has also committed to an initial investment of a minimum of Two Billion Five Hundred Million US Dollars ($2,500,000,000) in the New city located between Aba and Rivers State.

In addition, the federal government has granted the status of a free trade zone (FTZ) to the EEC.

While Mazi Otti is dreaming of “transforming Abia to Dubai” Governor Ikpeazu is already creating a new Dubai within a 9,300 square meters of Abia land with steady power supply to the commercial city of Aba expected to be one of the benefits of this massive project touted by experts as the single biggest investment and industrialization drive in post-civil war South East Region.

5. Launch a revolution for SMEs and large scale industries

Governor Ikpeazu launched his revolutionary support for SMEs and large scale industries from day one of his administration through the well thought out planning and execution of Made in Aba promotion. His efforts have already delivered wealth and jobs to Abians and he has won awards from even the federal government and reputable newspapers for his focused efforts particularly on this.

Under the watch of Governor Ikpeazu, Abia State was designated as the SME capital of Nigeria by the Presidency which also supported the efforts of the government by partnering with the Ikpeazu administration to provide steady power supply to shops in Ariaria market and license Ariaria Power generation and power distribution companies.

It is in eloquent support of the growth of our SMEs that Governor Ikpeazu embarked on the construction and reconstruction of 67 socio-economically important roads in the state with 94 other road projects, including Faulks (Ariaria) road, first ever interchange (flyover) in Abia State, reconstruction of Port Harcourt Road, Aba, ongoing reconstruction of Aba Road, Umuahia etc.

6. Create export free zones to stimulate industry and commerce

Again, Mazi Otti and his handlers got this one very wrong. State Governments don’t create export free zones. Only the federal government can create and license such zones.

As earlier pointed out, the new Enyimba Economic City that Governor Ikpeazu is developing has already been licensed by the federal government as a Free Trade Zone (FTZ) with adjunct license to operate as an export processing zone.

7. Guarantee free and compulsory education up to secondary school

While I don’t like comparing south east states, suffice it to point out that while a neighboring state government made similar promises to win votes, in practice the promise of free education by states, has, in the least, been found to be deceptive and at best non value adding.

In the first place, education is already FREE and compulsory in Nigeria from primary to junior secondary school (JSS) level courtesy of a deliberate federal government policy.

It is also true that Abia School Children, under Ikpeazu’s watch, have outperformed their peers from all the states in Nigeria, including those “offering” the same dubious guarantee of “free and compulsory education up to secondary school”.

Mazi Otti, if a system is not broken don’t promise to fix it.

Governor Ikpeazu is already further improving the Abia School System through the retraining of teachers, construction of 359 new classroom blocks and pioneering efforts in the free school feeding program. While the federal government has taken over the feeding of primary 1-3 pupils in our primary schools, Governor Ikpeazu is feeding primary 4-6 pupils. Hence, in the whole of Nigeria ONLY Abia State has primary 1-6 pupils receiving FREE school meals every school day.

8. Promote sports and culture as a vehicle to creating jobs and recreation for the youths

Again, this is another proposition by Mazi Otti that Governor Ikpeazu is already implementing. Within the limits imposed by the state’s lean financial resources, Governor Ikpeazu is the only Governor in Nigeria today that is sponsoring 3 premier league status football clubs: Enyimba International FC of Aba, Abia Warriors of Umuahia and Abia Angels.

Governor Ikpeazu has received national accolades for the transformation of Enyimba Stadium at Aba to a modern playing turf now rated as the second biggest playing turf in the world.

The process of transformation of state owned sports and culture facilities to revenue yielding ventures has long commenced under Governor Ikpeazu with verifiable good results. In the coming years, these painstaking efforts will deliver greater results.

9. Establish and run an accountable and transparent government you can trust

It is remarkable to note that members of Nigeria Governors Forum recognized and gave accolades to Governor Ikpeazu for his transparent and prudent management of Paris Club Refunds. Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) also applauded Governor Ikpeazu’s transparent management of Abia resources.

Under the watch of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, Government accountability is at its highest level, since the creation of the state. The people of the state know about every kobo received by the government and the Governor and members of his cabinet have always been willing to directly engage the people on every aspect of governance.

In a recently published interview, Governor Ikpeazu made the following verifiable assertion:

“I place it on record that I am one of the most open Governors and political leaders in Nigeria with the frequency of my interactions with the people. I have held a total of 18 Town Hall Meetings with Abians in Abia State and outside the State and 34 uncensored live phone-in Radio and TV programmes in the last 3 years. This is in recognition of the fact that we derive our mandate from you the people and we are accountable to you. My frequent interactions with you have enriched my understanding of your problems and needs and has further sharpened my focus and determination to serve you better”.

Indeed Governor Ikpeazu is already what Otti is dreaming of becoming to Abians and doing much more than Otti is proposing or hoping to achieve.

• Establish the Abia safety net, a social welfare scheme designed to cater for the aged, widows and the poor.

In November 2017, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu launched the Free Home Health Care Initiative for senior citizens of the state and provided operational vehicles and resources for the first of its kind social welfare scheme in Nigeria. Field reports and testimonies have long confirmed the program to be highly successful.

In addition to that, Mrs Nkechi Ikpeazu, the wife of Governor Ikpeazu, is leading the widows and indigent women free home scheme that has to date constructed 51 houses donated to widows and indigent women across the state. She has also empowered more than 6,000 women through skill training and provision of take off materials, funds as well as built and commissioned more 17 modern markets for rural women.

Mrs Ikpeazu has also been at the forefront of leading advocacy on prevention of sickle cell anaemia, protection of the rights of the girl child and payment of hospital bills for indigent persons.

It is good to watch and read Mazi Alex Otti state for the first time his plans and programs to develop Abia as against his previous focus on dwelling on those things Governor Ikpeazu has not done yet, as if three and half years is enough to solve all the challenges in Abia State.

What he failed to state are the things already done by Governor Ikpeazu and, obviously, with his advertised manifesto, it should be clear to all that his best propositions are simply a compendium of what the incumbent is already doing.

Will Abians ever agree to trade the inferior “I will do” for the superior “I have done”? Governor Ikpeazu’s work speaks eloquently for him and while he has never laid claims to solving all Abia problems, Abians are assured that he is ready to do much more than he has done already.

If not for personal political desperation, Otti would most likely have voted for Governor Ikpeazu of PDP in 2019.

The next 4 years, Abia State under Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, will witness the consolidation and accelerated phase of the implementation of the 5 pillars of the Ikpeazu administration: Education, Agriculture, SME development, Trade & Commerce and Oil & Gas resources development.

I urge Abians to keep faith with the symbol of equity and high performing hope vendor of Abia State, Governor Okezie Victor Ikpeazu, PhD. We have not arrived at where we wish to be, as a state, but even the published manifestoes of the opponents of the Governor confirm that we are on the right course and making good progress.

#AbiaMustShoutAlleluia

JOK (John Okiyi Kalu) is the Honourable Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Abia State Government.
7/12/18

SSANU ESUT Chapter Presents Award To Prince of Mburubu

The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU ESUT Chapter)just presented an Award of Excellence presented to Prince Lawrence Ezeh.

Prince Lawrence Ezeh is running for the Senate under the APC for Enugu East Senatorial Zone.

The ceremony held at ESUT Main Campus, Agbani.

The award is for his ‘selfless service and philanthropic gesture to humanity’.

More details later.