President Muhammadu Buhari has commended the Governor of Abia State, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, on the newly commissioned Ariaria Power Plant, saying that without his (Ikpeazu) commitment and cooperation, the federal government would not have actualized the Ariaria Independent Power Plant located at the Ariaria International Market.
Speaking at the commissioning of the project yesterday in Aba, the commercial capital of the state, President Buhari said: “I thank Your Excellency, Okezie Ikpeazu, Governor of Abia State, for your support to this project from the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing. Thanks for your cooperation; without your cooperation, our work would not have been smooth.
“You have demonstrated that with the common good as our vision and objective, a lot can be achieved irrespective of our party differences and constitutional limitations.
“Your Excellency has no political colour. I was elected for office on the convincing arguments that my party made about my commitment to security, developing the economy and fighting corruption.
“To all the traders, businessmen and women in this market, I say weldone for contributing to national productivity and job creation. I am sure that now we are here you would experience better days and prosperity in this market in order to provide support to more businesses in pursuit of economic growth”, Buhari said.
Also, Minister for Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, commended Governor Ikpeazu, saying, “Mr. President, There was one man who stood by us, he is Governor Ikpeazu. All we needed was a phone call and he said ‘I would provide the land’, and he provided us this land. He promised to repair the Ariaria road, and he has done it.
“There was also another man who supported us, Engr. Barth Nnaji. So I want to publicly acknowledge them for their sacrifice and it shows that if our common good is a collective goal, politics means nothing.”
In his response, Governor Ikpeazu said: “Today is perhaps one of the happiest days of my life since 2015. It became clear to us that our strategy to develop Abia have to take a bearing on two things; one the things that our people can do very well and, two, take advantage of the policies of the federal government. So we decided to study the problems of Ariaria International market not only for being the hub of Trade and Commerce in the African sub region, but also because it is a center to the manufacturing of shoes and garments and all kinds of manufacturing of leather products.
The World Bank recognizes Abia as the place that has over 200,000 people doing all kinds of things and we know that each and everyone of them multiplied we have nearly 1 million people doing all kinds of things and most of them are located around Ariaria Market here. So, we noticed that some of the major problems were dependent on energy, building stores; some of them apart from road infrastructure were power, market shares, while the other one was automation and, of course, I want to acknowledge the support and the presence of the Vice President whom you sent on two different occasions to undergo SME clinics.
“We brought Ndi Aba face to face with the agencies that were responsible for budget and as well as got encouraged for us to begin the construction of this road.
“This Faulks Road, 20 years ago, nobody would imagine that it was possible to access Ariaria end to end. Beneath this road is 6 and half kilometers of underground drainage, with two pumps, pumping flood water from Ifeobara to Waterside that is the reach of the architectural endeavour that supports the efforts of the federal government.
“I am happy to say that when this option came for power to be provided in this very beautiful way, we all rallied around and said we must do the needful to give ndi Aba the option of which power constitutes a major part of, and of course, this is far better than whatever they had before now and I am happy to say that Aba is now one of the key areas where we have uninterrupted power supply for at least a few shops in this market for more than two years now and with opportunities to scale up and impact the desires of the federal government.
“I am also sure that a few houses around here are applying to the REA to be allowed to key into this beautiful Initiative.
“Therefore, I want to say today, that capacity building which used to be one of the problems in this State, has been solved because 30 young ordinary shoe makers were sent from this market to China to learn how to do shoes in an automated way. I am happy to also say that the machines that we imported have arrived here in Aba waiting for installation.
“Mr. President, I want to say also that we are happy that you allowed 50,000 pairs of military boots to be ordered from these ordinary people. There is no other way to recognize them and it means that Five Hundred Million Naira have been injected into the economy of Ariaria market and to cap it all, Sir, you have come today to give us the opportunity to have a choice and have steady power. We say once again thank you.”