By Jude Ndukwe
When on the 18th of October, 1964, the Governor of Abia State, Okezie Victor Chibuikem, was born to the family of Pa Ishmael and Deaconess Bessie Ikpeazu of Umuebere in Umuobiakwa village, Isialaukwu, Mbato Autonomous Community in Obingwa Local Government Area of Abia State, only the clairvoyant could have correctly seen that a star to further chart the path of his people through the ways of peace, progress and prosperity had just been born.
55 years later, Abians are grateful to Pa Ishmael and Deaconess Bessie for birthing their son and gifting him to the people for their continued upliftment. Indeed, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has since gone ahead to improve in no small measure the lives of the people since he first assumed office as Governor on May 29, 2015. No matter how much few may try to dispute this assertion for political reasons the truth is always there staring all of us in the face.
True, Abia is still work in progress and even the Governor has said on several occasions that we are not yet where we want to be but we have made progress and more blocks have since been laid on the achievements met on ground prior to 2015. From education to MSMEs, infrastructure, agriculture, security, health etc, Ikpeazu’s verifiable marks of progress are visible across the landscape.
The reason we take security matters for granted in Abia State is because the Governor has not only been on top of it, he has also taken the lead in ensuring that what afflicts other States in terms of insecurity does not come near Abia as he takes proactive measures in securing the lives and property of the people. While other states are battling with a plethora of major violent crimes like banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery, among others, Abia has been enjoying peace and tranquility to the extent that insecurity is not an issue in the State’s political discourse. Given a choice, many Nigerians living in some other parts of the country would prefer to relocate to Abia for her tranquility.
There are also some other States whose peace have been shattered by political tension between their Governors and other political leaders. But in Abia, despite the excesses of some of our opposition figures, the Governor has maintained an equanimity that guarantees a serene atmosphere thereby creating an enabling environment for the people to thrive in all their endeavours.
In education, it is no longer news that Abia has maintained first position in the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) for five straight years owing to the Governor’s deliberate policies and actions anchored on the youths and children of the State which have also seen school enrolment rate rise dramatically from 115,396 to 658,472 as at 2018.
Abia has remained the only State where her pupils in primary school are fed from Primary 1 – 6: while the federal government feeds pupils from Primary 1 – 3 all over the federation, Abia State government under Ikpeazu is the only state government that has taken the school feeding programme further to Primary 4 – 6. All these are in addition to the construction of 340 new classroom blocks, 19 renovated ones and 4 new model schools.
The regular training and retraining of teachers in the state even by foreign consultants has also ensured that the teachers are up to date with latest global teaching skills.
The Governor’s commitment to the youth in particular and Abians in general is also evidenced in his aggressive promotion and support to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the State for which he has won many awards. Today, “Made in Aba” is no longer just a slogan but a brand, a global brand that has empowered Abia entrepreneurs and made them as competitive as their counterparts in Asia, Europe and the Americas.
In the area of infrastructure, the delivery of 76 verifiable road projects with over 90 others under construction and at different stages of completion in four years is no mean feat. Although the State has infrastructural deficit to still fill just like every other State, she is surely meeting up with the challenges especially with Governor Ikpeazu’s renewed commitment and speed in his second term.
Despite the scathing attacks by some members of the opposition group in the State, Ikpeazu still won his second term bid by a landslide. He was taken to court severally by his opponents for his first term victory but emerged victorious after several years. He has continued to win in court even for the second term. It is only a man born with grace for the race that can survive the many onslaughts thrown at him. His simplicity means Heaven is backing him up while his tenacity has seen him achieve what many thought was impossible. It is that same grace that has made Dr Okezie Ikpeazu the first ever Governor, whether military or civilian, to have come from Ngwa land since the creation of the world.
The success story of Abia under Ikpeazu continues and cannot be complete without gratitude to God for his wife, the humble, humane and supportive Mrs Nkechi Ikpeazu for her exemplary roles in the growth of the State. Her welcoming mien and motherly role has proved an added advantage in the entire governance process of Abia.
With the giant strides Abia is making under Governor Ikpeazu, the people are rolling out the drums in celebration of the birthday of a Governor who is no doubt a gift to them. Today, the people rejoice and shout hallelujah, for indeed, the Governor is most worthy of celebration.
Happy birthday Mr Governor Sir!