Ikpeazu: Redefining Abia State As Nigeria’s Industrial Hub
Since the inauguration of Dr. Victor Okezie Ikpeazu as executive governor of Abia State on May 29,2015, the peaceful South-Eastern state has pick up on a gradual trend to claim a spot as an industrial destination in the country
A true ambassador of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), a party known for development and human face governance, Dr. Ikpeazu has never disappointed the electorate. He has succeeded in bringing the government closer to the people and his development stride is felt across all nooks and crannies across the three senatorial districts in the state.
Professional biochemist by training, Ikpeazu took no shot at public office prior to the 2015 general election in which he won the governorship seat of Abia State.
He, however, suffered a few political travails. On December 31, 2015, a Court of Appeal sitting in Owerri sacked Ikpeazu as governor and declared Alex Otti as the winner of the 2015 gubernatorial election.
Also, on 27 June 2016, Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, ordered Ikpeazu to vacate his office as governor upon allegations of false information and forgery of documents prior to the 2015 gubernatorial election. The suit was however dismissed by a Federal High Court in Owerri. He was able to complete his first tenure in office.
The many challenges he went through, no doubt, spurred him into performing well in office and this eventually earned him a second term ticket of the PDP to contest in the March 2019 governorship election in which he recorded a landslide victory.
Ikpeazu has turned around, not only the physical landscape of the state, but every other sphere of public life, including education, health, economy, infrastructure and sports.
He turned the erosion-ravaged areas in the capital city into passable roads are especially the Umuagu-Umuda erosion control work where a lot of work was done to control massive flood erosion that had threatened hman within the area.
The Abia State governor was worried about the problem of doing business with ease. The government expended huge sum on the construction of Abia Investment House to attract investors to do business in the state with minimum fuss.
One of the areas where the Governor Ikpeazu-led government has made major inroad is in the area of road construction. More than 80 road projects have been was awarded in different parts of the three senatorial districts of the state to ensure equitable development.
Many of the roads have been commissioned, while steady progress us being made to complete the rest in appointed time.
Aba, the commercial nerve centre of the state, is certainly better than it was before Ikpeazu’s government came to power. Roads hitherto abandoned have received attention and succour came for road users, especially owners of medium and small businesses within Aba.
Worthy of mention in this regard is the Faulks Road and the strategic Port- Harcourt Road. Others include Ukaegbu, Where, Umuoha roads.
The government has done extensively well in the development of small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) in Aba, the industrial hub of the state.
Over two million pairs of shoes are being exported to other parts of Africa on weekly basis from Aba and no fewer than 250,000 people were directly engaged in SMEs in Aba, thereby creating millions of jobs for the people.
The governor’s expectation was that his administration will raise the state internally generated revenue (IGR) from about N500 million to at least N1.8 billion monthly from Aba.
“If we get Aba right, we can generate enough IGR to develop the state, without depending on the monthly Federal Allocation to the state,” he once said.
On education, the government emphasised the re-training of primary school teachers, in collaboration with an Australian-based non-governmental organisation.
Accordingly 1,700 teachers have benefitted from the programme since its inception about two years ago, while 34 schools were currently undergoing renovation, and government was also buillding model schools that would be second to none.
Before joining politics, Okezie Ikpeazu had been a lecturer in several educational institutions in the country.
From August 1984 to August 1985, he served as a clinical biochemist in the Medical Laboratory of the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt for his mandatory National Youth Service programme.
Okezie Ikpeazu returned to the University of Maiduguri for an M.Sc Degree in Biochemical Toxicology and graduated in 1990. In 1994, at the age of 30, he obtained a Doctorate Degree in Biochemical Pharmacology from the University of Calabar.
He was born on October 18, 1964, to the family of the late Pa Ishmael and Deaconess Bessie Ikpeazu of Umuebere in Umuobiakwa village, Isialaukwu, Mbato Autonomous Community in Obioma Ngwa Local Government of Abia State.
He attended Amaise Central Primary School, Umuobiakwa. In 1973, while in primary five, he gained admission into Eziama High School, Aba and later moved to Ihie High School, Isiala Ngwa where he took his School Certificate examination in 1979.
In 1980, at the age of 16, he gained admission into the University of Maiduguri to study Clinical Biochemistry and graduated with a B.Sc. (Hons.) Second Class Upper Division in August, 1984.
•Ezekiel writes from Abuja