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Abia working towards self-dependence —Ikpeazu

By News Express on 07/06/2016

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In the face of the continued slide in the federal allocation that is affecting all the states in the federation, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State has given assurances that the state would soon become economically prosperous such that the dwindling federal allocation would not have adverse impact on its operations.

He said the state has worked seriously in the last one year to develop the key enablers that would form the mainstay while the federal allocation would come as an additional support.

Speaking to the media in Lagos on the one year scorecard of his principal, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Godwin Adindu, said to achieve the goal, Governor Ikpeazu has emphasised on the areas where the state has comparative advantage such as agriculture, commerce and trade, craftsmanship and human capital development.

Adindu said his Governor has deployed prudence and judicious management skills to achieve so much in the first one year, particularly in the area of infrastructural development. “This has taken a greater share of the Governor’s attention in the last one year and this is happening at a time when our federal allocation has come down from about N4 billion to N1.8 billion, while our wage bill is about N3 billion,” he added.

Adindu further disclosed that the strategy of Governor Ikpeazu has been to create the enabling environment and then develop the sectors that would boost and sustain the Abia economy such that very soon Abia would no more be completely dependent on the cheque from Abuja.

Adindu said the Governor had embarked on some strategic development programmes with his eyes set in the distant future. These included the Obiaku City Port in Ukwa East, which was initiated to link Aba to the sea and provide a great boost to Aba as the commercial hub of the South-East, as well as the market development programme aimed at revamping the markets as strong Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) base for the state.

“One strategy was to separate the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Now we have the Ministry of Commerce as well as Ministry of Trade and Investment, with the latter focusing on market development and Small and Medium Scale Enterprises,” the CSP explained.

On road construction, Adindu said that the state government has actively constructed 66 roads across the three geopolitical zones of the state with 27 fully commissioned, adding that Governor Ikpeazu had to deploy the high cost-intensive  cement/rigid technology on five roads in Aba to sustain their load bearing capacity and maintain quality.

He pointed out that some of the roads were commissioned in Aba by former President Olusegun Obasanjo. “There are plans between Abia State and its neighbour, Akwa Ibom to jointly rehabilitate the shared federal roads,” he added.

The government has also led a campaign for the development of the artisanship ingenuity in Aba and the standardisation of Made-in-Aba products, which climaxed with a business summit in Aba and the “Made in Aba Trade Fair” in Abuja.

Adindu said: “We take the Made-in-Aba concept seriously. The artisans were sponsored to Turkey to understudy the processes that would make them manufacture good quality products that are enduring. Shoes made in Aba can be sold in shops in the United Kingdom, the United States and other western countries where Nigerians were fond of acquiring such products.”

The government has also devoted attention to the revitalisation of two moribund industries – Golden Guinea Breweries in Umuahia and the International Glass Industry in Aba. While the Aba company has commenced production of bottles for pharmaceutical companies, the Umuahia beer company would start operation soon, Adindu assured. 

Agriculture, he further said, has also received the attention of the Ikpeazu administration, explaining that this is one area where the state has comparative advantage right from the time of the regional government when the Dr. Micheal Okpara administration established several farm settlements in the areas now known as Abia State.

He then said: “The state launched the ‘Return to Farming and ‘Women in Fish Farming’  initiative with the objective of empowering the youths and women by setting up farming cooperatives which will help drive key government policy as regards agriculture. The government, through the initiative, will make land, finance and training accessible for farmers.  The vision is to explore the agric-economy as a support base for the state economy.”

To show that the government is committed to agricultural revolution, Adindu said the state government had mandated every state government official to own and operate farm land. “Abians will no longer have need for imported food in the near future,” he assured. “The Governor himself no longer eat imported rice,” Adindu revealed.

According to him, the State Government was also sourcing N1 billion loan for agricultural revolution from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which would be disbursed purely to genuine farmers and not for political patronage. The project is connected to the state integrated infrastructural development project aimed at bringing donor agencies and development partners to assist in the development of the state.

On education, Adindu said the State Government was embarking on a large-scale programme of renovation of dilapidated primary school buildings in the state. He stated that this was being executed with the funds accessed from Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), as well as the Friends of Abia School Adoption Initiative (FASAI) through which the government was attending to the infrastructural challenges of both secondary and primary schools in the state.

He said the government also resuscitated three moribund technical schools in the state to run skills acquisition programme.

Under its Universal Basic Education Provisions, the state government has also launched a pilot arrangement to feed 30,000 primary school pupils three times in a week in 10 local council areas. According to Adindu, pupils are to being fed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

In the area of security, Adindu disclosed that the Governor has worked effectively with the security agencies to maintain law and order, stressing that the state enjoys relative peace as compare to what obtains in the other areas of the country.

To aid youth empowerment, the government established two agencies where over 300 Abia youths have been gainfully employed. These are the Traffic Management Agency and the Public Infrastructure Management Agency.

Adindu explained further that the government established the Abia State Rural Infrastructure Development Initiative (ASTRIDE) to provide at least one project in each of the 184 wards of the state. “The idea is to close the gap of infrastructural development in the rural areas,” he said.

He also disclosed that the government’s infrastructural development programme included the revitalisation of 52 water schemes and installation of streetlights along the roads in Umuahia, Aba and Ohafia and the powering of the new Government House and new workers secretariat premises with solar energy and zero pothole tolerance action on the state’s roads.

•Photo shows Governor Ikpeazu.

Source News Express

Posted 07/06/2016 8:02:53 PM

 

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