Governor Okezie Ikpeazu Ph.D. has about six weeks to complete his successful eight-year tenure as governor of Abia State – 2015 to 2023. This emphasizes the popular old saying that ‘whatever has a beginning, must have an ending.”
Indeed, Governor Ikpeazu ran a good race and finished strong as far as he can offer. His tenure in Abia changed the narrative of the state’s hitherto negative political history of unrest and quagmire, to a positive story of political conviviality and tolerance.
People are free to vaccinate their mind with the false and single narratives of Abia under Ikpeazu, as told by naysayers and irritants, whose political toxicity have reduced them to be only good at pull-him-down. Every man is entitled to his opinion, the fact remains that the Abia Ikpeazu met in 2015, is not the Abia he is leaving in 2023. He may not have done everything, but surely he has changed the story.
Despite the orchestrated efforts by toxic and desperate political elements to derail his administration, he stayed focused on the mission, which is to change the narrative of Abia for good.
There is no gainsaying that Abia State is one of the most peaceful states in our federation today. This didn’t just happen. The mien and body language of a leader determine happenings in the state. This is the case here, where Ikpeazu’s peacefulness and tolerance envelop the state.
Abia, under Ikpeazu, didn’t only enjoy political peace, where all kinds of political characters, including neophytes that Ikpeazu introduced into politics, operated freely, without being attacked or harassed, some of them, who even left the Ikpeazu camp after losing the PDP nominations, and became electoral-risk candidates in other political parties, campaigned freely. That is Ikpeazu for you. He bears no grudge. He believes in egbe bere, Ugo bere.
It will be counted for good for Ikpeazu that he maintained peace with every political player in the state. Unlike those before him, who either had their deputies either impeached or removed under controversial political circumstances, Ikpeazu ensured his deputy, remained for eight years, even when he has reasons to do otherwise.
For the sake of Abia, he also maintained good working relationships with his predecessors. For eight years, Ikpeazu ensured a robust relationship with members of the National Assembly from the state, not minding their political party affiliation. That is maturity.
When some contiguous states were facing serious insecurity challenges, with lives and properties destroyed, Abia enjoyed maximum peace of life and security under Ikpeazu. Businessmen and economic operators in the state, particularly Aba, the commercial hub of Ndigbo, were doing their business without fear of being robbed or attacked.
To buttress this, Chief Sir A. E. Udeigbo, an Anambra State-born Aba businessman and Chairman of the Aba Landlords Association, during a meeting of the association with Governor Ikpeazu said: “Governor, I want to thank you on behalf of Aba Landlords, for the infrastructural development in Aba, including the flyover.
“I also want to commend you, sir, for the peace and security in Aba. Since 2015 till date, we have been living and doing business in Aba without any fear of security breaches or any form of attack. I am from Anambra State, before now, I visited Anambra twice every month, but since 2020, I can’t remember how many times I have visited Anambra State because of the insecurity in Anambra and Imo States.”
Unbiased commentators who have visited Abia, particularly Aba, have continued to toe this line of commendations and appreciation like the Aba Landlords’ chairman.
The peace and security in Abia speak to the character of the man-Ikpeazu, who does not bully anyone, instead, he tolerates everyone, including the toxic blackmailers.
Ikpeazu is not desperate for political power. He believes in the political will of the people. Even while seeking for political position, Ikpeazu is careful and mindful of what is the will of God concerning him.
Before Ikpeazu came, Abia was considered almost a pariah. Aba, for instance, was infrastructurally and environmentally in its worst and lowest state. There was completely no access into, and out of Enyimba City.
Before 2015, if you are conversant with Aba, you will agree that, the only road standing in Aba was the Okpu-Umuobo road, from Aba-Owere Road to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day. This section of the road was built by the church to give access to their members, and their overseas guests who visit the temple regularly.
Today, even the worst critic of the Ikpeazu administration will acknowledge the works the administration did which has completely changed the narrative of our dear Abia, particularly Aba.
There are over 200 roads including bridges that the Ikpeazu administration did, either as a fresh construction from the scratch, or reconstruction across Abia State. The Enyimba Stadium in Aba has one of the best fields in the continent, with synthetic turf for the round leather game. Ikpeazu did it.
The ongoing projects that the administration is unable to conclude, those after Ikpeazu should continue from where he stopped. Government is a continuum.
Before he came, Abia rural communities never experienced the level of rural road construction and grading that happened under Ikpeazu. This helped in the movement of agricultural goods into the urban markets from the rural areas, like Isiko.
There were sabotages by some of the indigenous construction companies that Ikpeazu engaged, events before the 2023 elections, explained the real reasons behind the sabotage. It was an orchestrated effort to give Ikpeazu a bad name for a cheap political agenda.
The Okezuo Abia interchange (flyover) at Osisioma, didn’t only change the landscape of the area, but it increases the production and business hours of Aba, where operators in the commercial city do not need to spend hours in traffic while navigating into Aba from Osisioma junction.
Visitors and investors who are in Aba for commercial purposes today, can now retire to good hotels or shop with ease in malls in Aba. Those were not there before Ikpeazu came.
While I acknowledge that the hotels, eateries and malls are private businesses, credit must be given to the administration that created the enabling environment for such investments and business growth, which created jobs for people in Aba. After all, investors abandoned their businesses in Aba due to insecurity and the collapse of infrastructure before Ikpeazu came.
While appreciating Ikpeazu for doing his best, and finishing his tenures as Governor of Abia better than those before him, those after him should be encouraged to do better than him. The man has done his best. He fought many battles and won many. I am sure he is very tired by now, and deserves some good rest.
It will not be out of place to dissect the attributes that made Abia peaceful and secure under Ikpeazu and improve on them for a better peaceful and secure Abia.
Before he came, Abia State was not this good.
April 16th, 2023