By Kingsley Maduforo on 29/05/2018

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The part two of this article is set to enumerate how Gov. Ikpeazu is currently running at the velocity speed of high developmental strides towards achieving some of the pillars of his administration. Agriculture for instance, was the mainstay of Nigeria's economy before the discovery of crude oil. From 1960 to 1969, the sector accounted for an average of 57 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and generated 64.5 percent of export earnings. From 1979 to late 2000s, the contribution of the sector to the GDP and export earnings steadily declined because Nigeria's focus shifted to petroleum exploration. Over the past five years, the sector has contributed an average of 23.5 percent to GDP and generated 5.1 percent of export earnings.

The recent fall in crude oil price triggered conversations around the role of agriculture in the diversification of the economy. The agricultural sector requires massive investment so as to bring about increase in production and the creation of value across the most profitable system of the value chain.

Abia State which is richly blessed has a land mass of 5.835sqkm, with a population of 2.8 million is blessed with natural resources, fertile land, and can sustain itself without relying on oil or the federal government monthly allocation. This prompted Gov. Ikpeazu to actively engage and support the drive for agriculture more especially in the mechanised farming of cassava, rice and palm oil in line with Federal Government Programmes and our state's area of natural advantage.

Gov. Ikpeazu's eagerness to diversify the state economy through agriculture and modern technology in three years has resulted to the launch of a large scale mushroom production and training programme that is already yielding great result. Many young Abians have been trained and are currently engaged in mushroom production. In addition, the current administration is actively supporting rice farmers to further boost production and put more 'Abia Rice' in the market. The target is that by 2019 Abia would be capable of producing enough to feed all Abia residents.

The present administration under Ikpeazu has recovered and revamped government owned lands and oil palm estates hitherto underutilized. Massive palm plantation with over 4,000,000 tenera species seedlings grown and sold across the state. The government set a target of 7.5 million oil palm seedlings which will be actualized by 2019. Already, 2 million oil palm tenera seedlings are available at Ayaba Umueze, Osisioma LGA and another 2.5 million seedlings would be added this year. The state is collaborating with the Federal Government to set up an Ultra Modern Poultry processing plant at Umuosu Nsulu in Isiala Ngwa. The ministry of Agriculture has developed a 2,500 capacity Ultra Modern Layer farm at its Headquarters premises in Umuahia with production capacity of 20,000 to 24,000 creates of egg per cycle of 18 months. This sector has recorded great success and has created thousands of jobs for Abia youths.

Gov. Ikpeazu is funding commercial agriculture through grants and soft loans to farmers. This has led to the provision of mechanized farming equipment across the state through leasing at affordable rates; less than 50% of the previous lease cost.The commercial production of cocoa and cashew has also been boosted through deliberate investment by the government. The objective is to ultimately establish processing plants for the primary products to further enhance benefits within the value chain for the cash crops. The administration is directly providing fertilizers to farmers at subsidized rates alongside other free extension services.

Furthermore, Gov. Ikpeazu has shown his political will and commitment in the decentralization of our health services, which is a key element to improve primary health care in the state. The health sector in Abia under the Gov. Ikpeazu led-administration has received a drastic boost. The governor has identified two tertiary health centres in each of the three senatorial zones in the state and brokered a public private hospital management firm that took over the affairs of these hospitals. In other to lay a solid foundation for good service delivery, the state has also reviewed its health policy with a view to reactivating and strengthening it for greater efficiency.

The Abia State Emergency Medical Service (EMS) was launched in January, 2017 to provide services across the state with initial two state of the art Intensive Care Units fitted with motorized equipment and appropriately trained staff. This service in future would be tied to the State Health Insurance Scheme and is currently supported with five ASPIMSS ambulances. Abia State's Tele-Health Initiative (ASTHI) concluded the six months of pilot tests in 15 Primary Health Centres (PHCs) and was launched in March, 2018. The service has been rolled out across the whole 292 PHCs in the state to help bring life-saving care to all Abia communities. This actually is the first of its kind in Africa.

Three years in office, Gov. Ikpeazu's deliberate action and policies attracted the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) beneficiary pilot state status which attracted #1.5bn from the World Bank following the successful hosting by Abia State on January, 2017 of the 59th National Council on Health. This fund is to be applied at the 292 PHCs for qualitative service delivery.

Gov. Ikpeazu's achievements in our health sector is enormous and cannot be fully enumerate here. This administration has also seen the building of 4 brand new and world class maternal and child wards at Okpuala Ngwa, Owaza, ABSUTH and Abia Specialist Hospital in Amachara Umuahia, with the help of the organized private sector in Nigeria, which is the leading support to Ikpeazu's focused health Improvement efforts. For instance, MTN Foundation funded two PHCs in their new programme "What we can do together campaign" in Ikwuano and Arochukwu LGAs. Also, the long-abandoned Abia General Hospital has been reactivated by Gov. Ikpeazu and is already providing healthcare services to Abians.

Gov. Ikpeazu's proactiveness in our health sector is quite recommendable. Things can only get better under him.

Kingsley Maduforo, a Media Analyst, writes from Abia.



Posted on May, 29 2018

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