Abia: Between APGA and the Deceptive Consolation of Hired Mourners
By Jude Ndukwe
It was with great consolation that we read the banal tirade of Rev Augustine Ehiemere, the Abia State APGA chairman, in a press release he titled, “APGA ACCESS THE LIVING IN ABIA-CONSOLE ABIA CITIZENS”, whatever that means.
Abians are consoled because before now, we had thought that the propaganda/falsehood machinery of Alex Otti and APGA in Abia State was going to remain unexposed since they have devised a near fool-proof means of serving the people poison disguised as wine in shimmering chalice.
But nothing else could expose more the emptiness, drabness, deceit, monotonous rhetoric, half-truths and outright falsehood which APGA in Abia State has come to be synonymous with than their latest press release. With that press release, discerning Abians would have concluded by now that APGA has eternally nailed its own coffin in the state.
For APGA to say that Abia State is the worst in all aspects of human development indices both in the southeast and the entire nation as a whole is totally false and an unfortunate curse on the people.
Security is one of the most critical of all human development indices with which nations and states are judged, and no nation or state can achieve any development whatsoever without security. It is no longer news that Abia State is adjudged, with empirical and undisputable facts, as one of the safest states in Nigeria.
In its edition of March 11, 2018, the Vanguard newspaper had done an elaborate and comprehensive report about the alarming crime rate in the country in the first 10 weeks of the then new year. It was discovered that in just that 10 weeks, 1,351 Nigerians had lost their lives to one form of violent crime or the other.
While some states like Borno understandably recorded as high as 361 violent deaths, Taraba, 107, Adamawa, 103 etc; even otherwise peaceful regions/states far richer than Abia could not match Ikpeazu's miracle in adequately securing the lives of their citizens.
For example, for the same period, Lagos lost 45 of her residents to violent crime, Ondo, 39, Ogun, 35, Rivers, 66, Delta, 19, Anambra, 18, Akwa Ibom, 16, Cross River, 14, Abuja, 6, Enugu, 4, Imo, 4, Ebonyi, 3, Katsina, 2, Ekiti, 2, Abia, 1, Osun, 1, Gombe and Sokoto, nil!
Similarly, in a release by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, last year for 2016, it was recorded that Katsina, Abia and Zamfara recorded the lowest crime rate in the country with 0.10 per cent, 0.29 per cent and 0.38 per cent respectively, and that is because Dr Ikpeazu quickly settled down and tackled headlong the wave of crime that bedeviled the state.
We all know the antecedents of Abia which used to be known as a den of armed robbers and a haven for kidnappers, cultists, rapists, baby factory operators, gangsters and perpetrators of such other violent crimes.
In the early days of his administration, Governor Ikpeazu procured 35 brand new operational vehicles fitted with modern communication gadgets and handed them over to security agencies in the state to assist them in their operations.
Just in May 2018, Dr Ikpeazu also bought another set of operational vehicles with similar gadgets which he handed over to the police, and as a way of motivating them and boosting their morale, he committed to assisting them in finishing their Zonal Headquarters building in Umuahia.
Today, with Ikpeazu's dexterous handling of security matters in the state, violent crimes have been reduced to its barest minimum if not eradicated completely to the extent that President Muhammadu Buhari was reminded during a roundtable meeting with Chinese investors, in his last visit to that country, that a foremost global Chinese company, the Ruyi Group, has committed to investing humongous amounts of dollars in four states of the federation which they consider safe for their investments. The States are Kano, Katsina, Lagos and Abia.
Is anyone surprised that Abia is among them? No one should be except for hired mourners like Alex Otti and the APGA chairman who would not mind sending condolences to the gathering of those celebrating the arrival of a new bouncing baby or those gathered to celebrate an important milestone in the life of a person because all they are used to is the manufacture and distribution of sad news even when there is none.
So the peace and security being enjoyed today in Abia is not by accident but the result of well thought out strategies and unrestrained investments of the governor in that sector.
When it comes to wages, Abia has a higher wage per worker bill than Anambra which APGA is comparing us with, Abia pays highest wage bill in the entire southeast and despite the fact that other southeastern states had at one time or the other retrenched workers despite paying lower than Abia, Dr Ikpeazu has refused to do so in spite of enormous pressures and recommendations by APGA and others to do so, insisting that he would rather find a way around ensuring paying the arrears of the less than 30% of the State workforce still being owed some arrears as over 70% of them including ALL ministries have been paid even up to August 2018. Even primary school teachers are up to date with their salaries contrary to Ehiemere’s deliberate twist of facts.
Including September to the months purportedly being owed workers when September has not even gone halfway is another APGA’s disingenuous way of remaining disingenuous as exhibited in that press release.
It is also not true that Dr Okezie Ikpeazu has received a total of N196bn from monthly allocation of FAAC alone. For example in May of 2016, Abia received N1,923,982,456.53, while Anambra got N2,116,807,667.87, Ebonyi got N1,843,573,739.61, Enugu got N2,003,137,942.20 and Imo got N1,872,879,765.17 (www.dailypost.ng/2016/07/26/faac-fg-gives-breakdown-amount-36-states-received-may/amp/). Given this, there is no way Abia could have received such an amount in a year from FAAC alone as quoted by the APGA Chairman, an amount that exists only in their head, even if FAAC allocations have gone a little higher.
It is becoming very obvious by the day, that the fictional creation of such humongous figures by Otti and APGA is the main reason why they have exhibited bestial desperation to occupy Abia Government House by all means even if it means lying and deceiving Abians to achieve this inordinate ambition of theirs. Certainly, it is the lust for our treasury that is driving Otti and APGA armed with the false belief that some nonexistent vault of cash waiting to be packed away should they win in 2019 (only in fantasy land) is somewhere in Umuahia.
Our wage bill is N2.3bn, compare this to the income of the state, this explains why the Dr Okezie Ikpeazu rather than retrench workers in order to balance the books as other southeast states had done, has chosen to give marching orders to the state ministry of finance, BIRS and such other related agencies to strategise and map out ways the state can effectively increase its IGR in order to seamlessly meet up with all her obligations consistently and sustainably.
While APGA in their usual hallucinating mode sees school dropout increasing, the reality is that following Dr Okezie Ikpeazu’s well thought out policies on education, school enrolment has actually increased from 150,000 in 2015 to 600,000 in 2018. This follows Abia State being the only state in the entire federation where its pupils from primary 1-6 are fed among other attractive policies.
The consistency of Abia’s performance as the state with the best results, coming first in WASCE for three consecutive years, back to back, in 2015, 2016 and 2017, speaks volume and is another eloquent testimony to Ikpeazu’s commitment to the education sector. Even states far richer than Abia have wondered how Ikpeazu has been able to achieve this despite their determination to unseat Abia in that regard. Abia State is not the only state with brilliant children, the difference is that the governor has been able to harness resources and prudently deployed them to adequately prepare our children for any challenge in their academic endeavours.
While other state governments and corporate organizations are used to giving paltry sums to students with exceptional results, Ikpeazu has broken that jinx by adequately rewarding each of the best performing students with N1,000,000 each to encourage them and also to motivate others. When your state is lucky to have a scholar in governance like Abia, it produces scholars who are national beaters.
The infrastructural development which Abia has enjoyed under Governor Ikpeazu does not need advertising as the over 70 completed roads and 80 others ongoing are there for everyone to see.
Our advice is for Alex Otti and APGA to keep their consolation to themselves because Abians do not need them. In fact they should save the condolences because they will certainly need them after their monumental loss again at the forthcoming governorship election in 2019. This is because the people will certainly return Dr Okezie Victor Ikpeazu and the PDP to Government House since he has already delivered and continues to deliver on not only his own promises but also on all the promises of all opposition parties in Abia State put togethe.