Posted by FN Editor | 5 years ago | 1,842 times

By Chinenye Nwogu

In 2015 after a hard fought electoral battle Okezie Victor Ikpeazu Ph.D. emerged winner of a fiercely contested gubernatorial election in Abia State. The fierceness of the battle necessitated what almost everyone wished never happened, a very protracted legal battle. For the records Ikpeazu may as well be the only Govenor in Nigeria whose election was to be twice confirmed by the apex court.

For 3 long years plus it was legal fireworks with its attendant distractions, yet a determined Ikpeazu swung into action from first day in office to deliver on his manifesto. He is no man for the excuses. A committed, visionary and articulate scholar, he seemed to know th real issues bedevilling Abia's development. The 5 pillars and enablers where the anchors upon which his administration navigated its development trajectory. 

Governing Abia at the time Ikpeazu took office was daunting, the 2015 set came to office face to face with economic recession, backlog of arrears of salaries, huge infrastructural deficit a very bemused citizenry, making a real difference required tact and good dose of prudence and commitment. 

Another inheritance Ikpeazu took along was an unrelenting though few voices of opposition. Demarketing Abia was a major task they seemed to have sworn to commit their time and resources to. At some point, some of them "leaders: reached out to International Development Agencies who were partnering to deliver world class infrastructure to the state, not to deal with the state. Several hurdles positioned by these few powerful Abians all in an effort to distract and confuse the administration.

Their hope was that by 2015, the Governor would not hold on to any tangible dividend of democracy to launch his 2nd term campaign. Alas, God is more faithful by 2019, over 60 roads completed and standing the test of more than 2 years of ranking session, huge lift in MSME development, impressive youth development narrative and programmes, engagement with investors local and foreign, creating enabling environment for private sector to thrive an effort that attracted several accolades for the state.

The icing on the cake was getting the key stakeholder buy in for the Enyimba Economic City Project. These and more areas including several pro poor programmes - effective domestication of the Social Investment Programmes, programmes for the aged, widows, children and many in that low rung of the socioeconomic ladder. I'm sure many have their views but certainly Ikpeazu cannot rank amongst the non performing governors, yet the opposition didn't abate. 

In 2019 Abians unanimously as though to shame the naysayers with more numbers than that of 2015 returned him to office. These few opposition elements went to town crying blue murder, wailing profusely. What every one would have expected was a gradual shift from negative and unproductive criticism to more constructive engagement, the opposite seem the case.

Every action of this governor no matter how well intentioned these few opposition voices continue to feed the general public with tissues of lies and falsehood. They cry wolf like Abia is collapsing on our heads. A cursory analysis, one wonders whose interest is being served. Since the return of democracy in 1999, no government within the period Ikpeazu has been Governor could be said to have performed better. Beyond the infrastructural strides, the peaceful cohesive political atmosphere in the state, the new status of Abia amongst her peers, speaks volumes about the qualities of this Governor. 

Abia is our only state in Nigeria, the continued demarketing of Abia, spreading obvious falsehood and ill motivated opposition should now take a back seat while all hands should be on the deck to build a society we would be proud to bequeath to our generations yet unborn. There is so much at stake and we should not allow negligible political difference continue to pitch us against each other. Governor Ikpeazu was reputed by VP Prof Osibanjo as a model of bipartisan leadership, opposition elements have been welcome on board to collaborate with the administration of Governor Ikpeazu to develop the state. 

I do not think Governor Ikpeazu is the problem, pulling him down if ever possible is not the solution to Abia's development. Spreading negative narrative and painting his administration in the most heinous picture is not the solution, Ikpeazu is not the problem.

As a people we must change our attitude and embrace the style of some of our neighbours like Anambra, Enugu even Ebonyi to know when to draw the line between politics and statesmanship. It's a thin line that seperates heros and villains. History and posterity will certainly judge at the end of the day, my prayer is that we will be found on the brighter side of history.

The efforts wasted heating up the polity, spreading rumours and falsehood could be channelled into more constructive and productive activities for state building. There is room enough for everyone and with a leader like Ikpeazu everyone will find a space to operate.


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