ABIA State : IT Is Time To Stop The Falsehood Against Dr Okezie Ikpeazu -Jude Ndukwe

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I have watched with great disbelief how people for the sake of politics have been peddling cheap falsehood and deceit against the Abia State governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, all in the name of politics.

As we approach 2019, the children of sophistry seem to have upped their game to justify their pay from opposition leaders who still nurse bitterness against the governor for their loss to him in 2015.

After having exhausted the use of the courts where they instituted needless, bogus and frivolous multiple cases against him even up to the Supreme Court level with the most recent one disposed off only as recently as April 2018, they failed in their desperate agenda to upturn the mandate freely and fairly given to the governor by the good and discerning people of Abia State, they have resorted to cheap blackmail and sophisticated sophistry woven in the coven of desperate politicians who have decided to see nothing good in Dr Okezie Ikpeazu.

The truth is that, even before he settled down to work after assuming office in May 2015, these political elites who cannot still fathom the fact that the son of “an ordinary teacher” has risen to be their governor, have been throwing the sink and brickbats at him in order to unseat him outright.

When they saw that that did not work, they resorted to their latest gimmicks of sponsoring mendacious information and forming false opinions against the governor.

Unfortunately, these set of political elites working against the Ikpeazu are opposition leaders who even hardly visit Abia except when they have burial ceremonies to attend. The ordinary Abian knows them and their antics. As far as the common man in Abia is concerned, such men have been consigned to the political history of the State even before they reach maturity in their political incubator where they are still “learning work” as we say in our local parlance.

These set of people had gone on and on to claim that Dr Okezie Victor Ikpeazu had done absolutely nothing, lampooning him for abandoning the infrastructure of the State while he concentrated on their orchestrated cases against him in court. Unfortunatly for them, they did not know that even as distracted as he was with those multiple cases instituted against him , Ikpeazu was busy giving the perennial infrastructural failure of the State a scientific approach that would ensure a lasting solution. Simply put, he was on the drawing board all the while.

When the time came for him to unroll the package, he had completed 56 number of roads all over Abia State, in just 33 months with 79 others at different levels of completion.

After shutting the mouths of these lions like God did for Daniel in the den, with that huge number of roads within such a short period of time including the first ever flyover in the history of the State at Osisioma, quality drainage systems and streetlights in some of them, these peddlers of falsehood graduated their propaganda from “He no do any road” to “Na only road we go chop?”

Today, rather than appreciate the governor, the same people who were complaining about “no road in Abia” are saying the roads done by Ikpeazu are not up to 5 kilometres each. Such people have taken their mischief further by even comparing the kilometres of roads done in Abia to those done in the north.

According to such people, while some states in the north are commissioning multiple kilometres of roads, Abia is commissioning 5 kilometres of roads each in the State.

These same people fail to understand that part of Okezie’s findings when he was doing research and assessment on why roads keep failing in Abia and the ones that are of utmost importance to the people, it was discovered that the so called short distance roads are of utmost importance to the people.

What opposition leaders and their followers in Abia State also fail to understand is that the geography of Abia State is radically different from that of a State like, say, Sokoto. Abia, particularly Aba, is known for its trade, industry and commerce. This means that every road, no matter how small, matters. There are very beautiful roads in the north one travels on for up to one hour without encountering any other road users. But that can never be the same for Abia. Some of these roads in the north may be long but how many people use them?

The quality of the roads (constructed by Ikpeazu) in Abia today are top notch! The perennial problem of flooding on Faulks Road is now a thing of the past. Those who know Aba well know that Faulks Road is of utmost importance to the humongous and popular Ariaria market. The rainy season rather than be a blessing had caused more pains to the thousands of people who use that road and thousand others from Nigeria and abroad who do business in and around Ariaria market.

Although this all important Faulks Road is 4.7 kilometres, what a lot of people do not know is that another 5.6 kilometres underground drainage was also constructed to collect storm waters from Faulks Road and other adjoining areas to the Ifeobara Basin from where it is channelled to Waterside. Today, after several rainfalls, Faulks Road and the perennially flood-prone areas there are still standing unlike in the past.

Has Ikpeazu finished all that needs to be done in the State? The flooding, the roads, the drainage systems, the streetlights? The answer is no! But the incontrovertible fact remains that he has started on an audacious note that has brought hope to the average Abian that things are looking up in the State.

I write because I have been to some of these roads in Aba myself. I was tired of hearing stories like “Okezie is not doing anything”, “Okezie’s roads exist only on Facebook”, “Okezie is only making noise without working” etc. So I decided to embark on a self-sponsored fact finding mission to verify things for myself. I am also an Abian, so I am a stakeholder.

Of the 56 roads completed by Ikpeazu, I was able to visit 28 in one day and I was alarmed with the number of roads and their quality shouldered by world class drainage systems and street lighting in some of them. Their thickness is reassuring and the new cement technology applied on some of them is novel.

In other States where gratitude is a virtue, even opposition leaders would have joined to applaud Ikpeazu for the good job he is doing in the State. Such applause from a grateful heart for a job well done would still not have stopped opposition figures from playing their politics as long as it is based on fact and genuine interest of the State.

I admit that some are still owed salaries and pensions in the State, most of which were inherited by his administration, however, I also understand that machinery has been put in place to clear all salary arrears in a short while. This is why those who recently embarked on strike called off their strike action shortly afterwards because they saw the sincerity of the governor in managing the paucity of funds and his genuine drive for increasing the State’s IGR to tackle the salary arrears. At a point, the governor willingly released all the N5.2bn Paris Club Refund tranche that accrued to the State purely for salaries.

On security, today, Abia is recognised as “The Most Peaceful State in Nigeria”, a recognition backed with facts. People forget so quickly how the State used to be known as a den for kidnappers, a haven for armed robbers and home to perpetrators of other violent crimes including the notorious “Baby Factory” phenomenon. But Ikpeazu, with the help of God, has eradicated those social malaise. This also led to him extending the time of operations for keke operators from 6am – 7pm to 6am – 9pm.

His commitment to education has also seen Abia students coming first back to back in WASCE in the three years that Ikpeazu has been in power. His policies in education have seen school enrollment which was declining before he got to office grow from 110,000 pupils in 2015 to 304,000 pupils in public primary schools in 2017 with an expected upsurge when enrollment for 2018 begins in September.

True, Ikpeazu has not done all that needs to be done, but Ikpeazu has done a lot to be rewarded for another term of four years. Those who know the history of Abia will quickly confess that we have never had it so good in the State.

Therefor, the falsehood being sold to the vulnerable ones that “Ikpeazu is not doing anything” must stop! That is falsehood taken too far and politics in very bad taste. We must not make the mistake Nigeria made in 2015, when with all the handwriting on the wall, we still cried, “Give us Barabbas”, and today Nigerians are suffering it!

Let Ikpeazu be!

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