The precarious state of Abia State nay many other parts of Nigeria has elicited serious concern from many stakeholders in the country. Stakeholders are there calling for concerted efforts to redeem the ugly situation. OKWUDI – JAMIKE, in this piece, appraises the situation and position of observers on this unpalatable condition.
Governor Ikpeazu of Abia
Pastor Jacob, Coordinator of UmuAbia United
Abia State which occupies about 6,320 square kilometres was carved out of the old Imo, among some others, as a separate part of the federating units of Nigeria. It is bounded by Enugu, Ebonyi, Cross River, AkwaIbom and Rivers States, and to the west being the mother state, Imo. The southern part of the state lies within the riverine part of Nigeria, a low-lying tropical rainforest with some oil-palm brush.
The southern portion gets heavy rainfall of about 2,400 millimetres (94 in) per year and is especially intense between the months of April through October. The rest of the state is moderately high plain and wooded savanna. The most important rivers in Abia State are the Imo and Aba Rivers which flow into the Atlantic Ocean through AkwaIbom State.
Hinging this latest description, Abia could comfortably be ascribed as one of the richly endowed state in Nigeria.However, many concerned citizens, especially indigenes of Abia, have always expressed concern over the state of the Niger-Delta oil producing state since its creation.
In a recent chat with Pastor Chidi Jacob, the coordinator of UmuAbia United, a coalition of Abia indigenes at home and abroad, he made a strong case for the emergence of a new Abia, he informed Nigerian Pilot that the coalition came about as a means of collaborating towards the emergence of a new and better Abia State.
“I think we need to properly educate our people on what makes a person a politician. I am only being a responsible citizen. It is my responsibility as a citizen to advocate for good and better governance. By the way, if our government works as supposed, some of the battles I fight as a pastor will not be necessary. Some of the prayers we pray in church will also not be needed. No-matter how much we pray, God will not come down from heaven to create jobs, we need human leaders with godly desire and personal capacity to see to our peace and progress, Jacob said.
On the purpose for the coalition, the cleric noted that beyond political propaganda, billboards, infomercials, and paid actors, the proof that a government is working was always evident in the improved standard of living of the citizenry. “Please tell me just any single area where the standard of living of Abians has improved in the past 20 years – jobs? Security? Infrastructure? Healthcare? Is it not insane to be doing the same thing with the same group of people and expect to get a different outcome? I am not the one calling for a new Abia; the decay and lack of basic infrastructure, the agony of civil servants and the total neglect of the citizens is crying out for change,” he observed.
On the means to get the state back on track, Pastor Jacob opined that “The answer is simple; a new leadership. Everything rises and falls on leadership. 2019 general election presents Abians another golden opportunity to turn around our story for good by choosing a new set of quality leaders. We need a visionary leader not accidental politicians. Remember, no one can give you what he does not have.
Meanwhile, as the current electioneering gathers momentum with a good number of political parties fielding candidates for the number one seat of the state, Jacob was of the view that since you are calling for new leadership among the candidates currently running for governor of the state that comparing the numerous candidates jostling for the governorship of the state in terms of track records, the candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Dr. Alex Otti, without doubt, dwarfs every other contender, including the incumbent.
“The man is good for the job and he represents a departure from the past and a new beginning for Abia. Abians know this and this is why they massively voted for him in 2015. I am only calling on them not to give up but to vote for him again so that what was denied in 2015 can be reclaimed in 2019,” he said.
“The reality of the situation is that Abians everywhere are angry and disappointed. I am only advising them to channel their disappointment to a productive use. Everyone can be involved. No matter where you are in the world, you can mobilise your friends and family at home and encourage them to vote Dr. Alex Otti for a new Abia,” he added.
There are some sons and daughters of Abia who believe in the governance the state under the leadership of Governor OkezieIkpeazu. Some of the notable achievements of the state governor is youth empowerment through small scale enterprise, industrialization, healthcare provisions, among others.
IfeanyiOkonkwo told our correspondent that “the governor is realyy trying and should be commended. At least he added value to governance and the state he inherited”.
However, Pastor Jacob is calling for a redirection in governance of the state. Advising Abians on the part to toe in ensuring a redirection for the development of the state, Pastor Jacob posited that, “With the support of Abians, I know the next governor will be Dr. Alex Otti. So I can say that this advice is for him. And among the other candidates, I also know that given his pedigree he is in a better position to understand and appreciate this.
“The human capital we have is our greatest resource. If we support and develop them, provide the necessary amenities they need, Abia will become an outstanding state. The drive and ingenuity is there, it just needs the right support and environment to break forth. Therefore, any policy that will radically improve the people and economy of the state must have human capital development at the core.
Abia State is one of the oil-rich Niger-Delta States from the South-Eastern part of the country with over 100 oil wells and three installed flow stations. There is also an associated gas plant, Abia/NNPC gas plant. As at the year 2012, the National Boundary Commission Commission said it returned 42 oil wells from neighbouring Rivers State to Abia. This would have meant Abia being fourth largest oil producing state in the country. Oil giant, Shell, holds most of the licenses for the wells in the state and has concentrated on the estimated 50 wells that are considered high-yield.
The state produced 36,000 barrels of crude oil per day. According to statistics the “Imoturu produces 23,000 barrels per day and Isimili flow station produces over 8,000 barrels of crude oil per day. Then four oil wells in Izaku go to Obigbo flow station” and another “30 oil wells go to Umuri and about eight from Umurie go to Afam,” lamented Samuel OkezieNwogu, chairman of Abia State Oil Producing Development Area Commission, ASOPADEC.
Crude oil and gas production is a prominent activity, as it contributes over 39 percent of the state’s GDP, as the manufacturing sector only accounts for two percent of the GDP. The industrial centre of the state, Aba, with textile manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, soap, plastics, footwear, cosmetics and so on still thrive, though minimally, as needed infrastructural leap, especially on road and electricity supply, remains far-fetched, thereby spurring on-ground and prospective investors to take flight.
In addition to the above, Abia State government has just built a 9,000 capacity multipurpose International Conference Centre in Umuahia, the state capital, an edifice of international standard built by former Governor T.A Orji to enhance tourism as well as boost the state’s economy through hosting of major international and local events.
However, with the efforts of the current Governor OkezieIkpeazu still inadequate, many observers and commentators on the state’s affairs still believe that a lot are still left to be done, and therefore see Otti as the prospective Messiah.
With the efforts of the current government still inadequate, many observers and commentators on the state’s affairs still believe that a lot are still left to be done. They therefore see Otti as the prospective Messiah