Where Is Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu’s Administration Headed? By Uche Aguoru

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Typical of every structural design still in its planning or formative stage, except the architect or the visioner, one hardly beholds the beauty of such a structure until it gets to its developmental level where everyone can see, feel and appreciate the beauty of the structure, so it is with the administration of Dr. Okezie Victor Ikpeazu PhD, when he took over the administration of the state in may 29th, 2015. Many of us that supported and campaigned with him across the state prior to his assumption of office based on our conviction and belief in his personality and pedigree became disappointed two years down the line having felt that our expectations of rapid and automatic transformation promised, aren't coming as expected, yours sincerely and others took to our social media handles and other media channels to criticize and dismiss the administration as having fallen short of expectation. Despite the many distractions faced by his administration, he has remained focused and resolute in his dream of not only returning the glorious days of Aba as the commercial and industrial hub of west Africa but his vision and promises of delivering quality infrastructure across Abia state remained on-course despite political and financial distractions. Most recently Governor Ikpeazu’s popularity has taken a quantum leap with the number and quality of roads under construction or completed alongside other infrastructural works such as street lighting, quality drainages, flood and erosion control projects etc. especially within Aba and Umuahia which has marked the governor out as a strong character and a resolute visionary. With the recent groundbreaking turn around in infrastructural deliverables by Dr. Ikpeazu's, administration especially in the area of road infrastructure, all his critics has been left mouth agape, confused and gazing in distant admiration about what is going on in Abia today, one lesson I have learnt from Dr. Ikpeazu's style of administration is that a man with vision and focus is hardly distracted, he has proven that he is a man who takes his time to plan and deliver and does not engage in leadership showmanship. Only a professional and sworn opposition or worse still a bitter critic with a bile of hate who is firmly strapped in his/her duty post will fail to openly appreciate the administrations progress in road construction. Every successful administration has its core policy thrust, What now is the focus and direction of the Okezie Ikpeazu Administration? A close study of Dr. Ikpeazu’s administration policy direction will reveal his untiring drive towards a total economic rejuvenation of the famous Enyimba city which from all indicators had shown that once the mercantile city is brought back to its economic footing the entire state will automatically jump off its current economic coma and experience boost as never before. Aba will bounce back to reckoning as the commercial destination of the entire West Coast of Africa and beyond when the Enyimba Economic City Project (EEC) comes on stream, the over 500 billion Naira investment has the capacity of generating over 700,000 direct jobs, the project which is sitting on a 9,803-hectare is strategically located in close proximity to Onne and Portharcourt seaports. this project will provide a major boost to the development of manufacturing and industrialization in the entire South East and South South. The Enyimba Automated Shoe Factory in Aba, another initiative of Dr Okezie Ikpeazu led administration, has been described as the biggest and best shoe manufacturing factory in Nigeria. The factory which has since started production has an installed capacity for the production of 5000 pairs of shoes every day which translates to about 2 million pairs of shoes annually, according to experts in the industry, the factory houses some of the best shoe making equipment in Africa and its already manufacturing and supplying boots being used by the Nigerian Army, the Air Force, Railway staff, the Police, Youth Corps Members etc. With the realization that SMEs are the biggest employers of labour globally and plays a major role in national and regional development, the Ikpeazu administration has developed the vision of making Abia, the SME capital of Nigeria and have introduced a lot of small and medium scale empowerment programmes aimed at aiding the growth of Small and Medium Enterprises. The Ikpeazu administration in partnership with FCMB introduced Youth Entrepreneurship Development Programme (YEDP) with FCMB offering loans and technical support to eligible and aspiring young entrepreneurs who have viable business ideas with individuals accessing up to N3million, while projects jointly owned by 3 to 5 qualified beneficiaries can access up to N10million. The setting up of Abia SME Microfinance Bank in Aba is another catalyst towards the revitalization of the state's economy, this micro–Credit Scheme designed to give low-income traders the opportunity of accessing loans at low interest rate is aimed at saving them from the rigours associated with the processes of having to look for collateral before you can be given a loan from commercial banks which in most cases comes at a cut throat interest rate. Beyond the above stated, there are so many other economic empowerment programs that the Ikpeazu administration had embarked upon in the past 5 years of which space may not allow me to elucidate on, some of these sustainable economic programs, projections and policies has earned him and the state so many national acclaims and is gradually but progressively boosting the economy of the state. The “Proudly Made in Aba” campaign will perhaps go down in history as one of the biggest achievements of governor Okezie Ikpeazu administration, this initiative which is leveraged on the industrial, commercial and entrepreneurial potentials of Enyimba city has gained global awareness and recognition, people are now proud to come to Aba and made their clothes and shoes, if the current drive is sustained and enlarged this campaign has the capacity to grow the regions economy. I quite recognize the existence of so many gray areas of which the Ikpeazu administration is yet to improve on, but there is no doubt that the administration of Governor Ikpeazu has laid a solid foundation for the greater economic development of the State. For all these efforts to be fully appreciated and felt, there must be an intentional effort at addressing the environmental and infrastructural shortfalls that makes it difficult for external investments to thrive, the government must also give a rethink to the way it carries out revenue yielding businesses and give an urgent attention to the challenges of housing, security, water and waste management. Writes from Umuahia

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