By Godwin Adindu
Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State has a way of being witty, sarcastic and serious at the same time. He is a master of humour. Yet, he may not have read the American ace-humourist, Mark Twain, but he delivers the spoken word with the wit of Twain, interspersing message with the comic side of life and drawing from the rich Ngwa heritage of proverbs to create concrete images. It is a very rare gift which has formed a potent arsenal for a leader, for he does not only hold his audience spell-bound, he disarms his traducers and rules his world – only with the art of the word.
So was he being funny, witty or serious, in his characteristic fashion, when he declared: “Let no one trouble me again for I bear in my body the mark of our lord Jesus Christ?” The Governor made this declaration few minutes after his victory at the Supreme Court. Re-echoing the words of Paul of Tarsus, he told his detractors to give him a break and a breath of life. But, can the governor actually avoid being troubled? Can he avoid the Shakespearian “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” ? He is in the eye of the storm; he is sitting on the hot seat; his head is wearing the crown and uneasy is his name. Can he, in all honesty, ever avoid the “sea of troubles”?
Back to his declaration. Was this a plea, a clarion call, a warning or a charge? What was the Governor actually telling his detractors? The declaration is all of the above – a paradoxical plea and a clarion call. Beyond asking not to be distracted again and not to be caused to dissipate energy unnecessarily, the Governor was speaking both to himself, his loyalists, his co-workers in the vineyard of governance and to his traducers. To himself, he was renewing his oath of allegiance to the people of Abia. He was self-motivating himself and recharging a covenant of service that has seen him construct sixty roads simultaneously in just eight months. He was speaking to himself about the new challenges ahead and the task of conquering new frontiers just like Apostle Paul had to conquer new territories with the message of salvation in the Greco-Roman world.
This drive to conquer new territories quickly found expression in the flag off of the Nkpa Road in Bende Local Council, Umuda Road in Umuneochie and the Nkporo road, two weeks after the supreme court victory. It found expression in the effective tactical measure which Governor Ikpeazu deployed to quickly tackle the menace of kidnapping that was rearing its ugly head in the sprawling city of Aba and the environs. It has been demonstrated in the large-scale programme of renovating all dilapidated primary school buildings in the state, with the funds accessed from the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC). It is a testimony to the new brand promotion for Aba-Made-Goods, sponsored by the government and which climaxed with the trade fair in Abuja.
Significantly, we could see the new impetus for work in the effort by Governor Ikpeazu to revive and activate the moribund Golden Guinea Breweries in Umuahia and the International Glass Industry in Aba. After an inspection tour of the Brewery last week, the governor disclosed that he has been assured by the managers that the brewery will commence operation by May this year. It is being exemplified in the governor’s drive to link Abia to the sea through the development of the Obuaka City Port in Ukwa East. This will give a great boost to Aba as the commercial hub of Eastern Nigeria.
The new persuasion is also being given a meaning in the formation of the Abia State Rural Infrastructure Development Initiative (ASTRIDE), which is aimed at providing at least one project in each of the 184 INEC Wards in the 17 local councils and closing the gap of infrastructural development between the rural areas and the cities. The ASTRIDE Committees are expected to choose an un-encumbered site for citing of the project and the type of project among project lines of the state government. It translates into the planned rural electrification and beautification of Ohafia, the third largest urban centre in the state which will commence very soon.