Connect with us





High Chief Victor Ikeji

High Chief Victor Ikeji was actively involved in campaigning for Governor-elect Dr. Alex Otti. A member of the Peter Obi Presidential Campaign Council, Ikeji responds to questions on the prospects of an Otti administration in Abia State. He spoke with Nduka Nwosu. Excerpts:  

You were actively involved in the Alex Otti campaign network, how do you feel today?

The feeling comes with a sense of liberation, the realisation of a dream, the understanding that finally it is time to sit down and join the Governor-Elect in this God-ordained assignment to rebuild Abia State and set an agenda for the future. I am happy that in my age, my generation will be part of this re-building project of a state that has all it takes to be a key player in the economic growth of our country.

Do not forget that the former Eastern Nigeria of which Abia State was a part of, and under Dr. Michael Okpara who came from the state, took the economy of this region to a level it was considered Africa’s fastest growing economy. The high point of that growth process was agriculture, complemented with four industrial villages in Port Harcourt, Aba, Umuahia and Enugu. Aba made an impact as a trading hub of the sub-region of West Africa until recently when under the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) administration, its infrastructure network collapsed. Since then, Aba went into a comatose and its industrial hub diminished in meaning and significance to the extent Governor Okezie Ikpeazu considered the opening of a fast-food joint in the city an achievement. 

The Governor-Elect is eager to revamp the infrastructure network in Aba and Umuahia the state capital which looks like a village and without a Government House, whereas Ebonyi State, carved out of Abia, now boasts of two Government Houses and fly overs across the state capital Abakiliki. 

Our Governor-elect has all it takes to go to work. Ndi Abia will witness less stress as he goes to fix things in their right places and remove what over the years has proved to be an impediment to the progress of the state. As a private citizen, he has used his Foundation to award scholarships to indigent students, made significant impact in assisting those with life threatening problems and general donations to improve health facilities, built roads in Arochukwu, Isiala Ngwa and Isuikwuato. He has also attracted a First Bank and Diamond Bank branches across Abia while working for the two organisations, and a host of other civic activity contributions too many to mention here, all within his limited resources. Now that he has access to the Abia treasury, he will utilise the resources to effect by deploying them where they are most needed. In the eight years ahead, there will be cause to celebrate. Those who put Abia State to shame, will live to see a difference.

How will the Governor-Elect raise the resources to execute what looks like a gargantuan project, considering the domestic and foreign debt profile of the state?

First, the Governor-Elect will obviously use his connections in corporate Nigeria to do deals that will be in favour of Abia State. He is highly respected in the industry and among his first assignments will be the restructuring of Abia’s debt profile, to get a breather in doing what needs to be done. If you study his manifesto, unity of Abians, rebuilding or reconstruction of the state and security of life and property, will be key points of his administration. The Governor-elect wrote the manifesto and as he put it, it is not the job of a paid consultant. To that extent he knows what he is talking about. The 35-page manifesto is his covenant with the people of Abia. He has said among other things that he would bring power and development to the people through the local governments because that is how it is expected to be.

Abia is a rich state whose economy was squandered by ungodly leaders and the Governor-elect will re-write that narrative. Our internally generated revenue, if effectively managed, will help create wealth outside the resource from oil. Long before now, Abians in the Diaspora had shown keen interest investing their earnings back home. With an improved security network which is a hallmark project in the governor-elect’s manifesto, foreign direct investment (FDI) including Diaspora earnings, would help boost resources available to the state. 

 The Governor-elect will do it the way of former Premier of Eastern Region Dr. Michael Iheonukara Okpara and the former Governor of Imo State before the creation of Abia State, Dr. Sam Mbakwe. These two great statesmen contributed to the growth of this section of the country. Fastforward, one would have thought that today, Aba should have witnessed the planned integration with Port Harcourt in terms of a huge industrial village or city as was in the original plan of the former Premier of Eastern Nigeria. What do we see instead? A decapitated city whose infrastructure network has been completely shaken down the drain.

The World Bank partnered with the Abia State Government to help in arresting perennial floods in the state especially in the Aba axis. Akwa Ibom was a beneficiary of that arrangement and has gone ahead to produce the expected results from the partnership. Surprisingly as the Ikpeazu administration prepares its hand over letter, that project has not realised its objectives, part of which principally was to halt flooding in Aba and its environs. The 27.4 billion Ndiegoro Abia World Bank project was queried by Mr. Martins Ichita, a legislator in the Abia State House of Assembly representing Aba South State Constituency. He is not the only one asking questions on how this collaboration has proved beneficial to Abia State, Aba in particular.

Specifically, the Ndiegoro Flood Control Project, was meant to fund road construction and erosion control in Aba, Port-Harcourt Road, Uratta Road, Obohia Road, Ohanku Road and Ngwa Road; this state of affairs gives you an idea of how profligate and unaccountable the Ikpeazu government had piloted the affairs of Abia State these past eight years. There was no attempt to improve on what he met on the ground. These are part of the problems facing the Governor-elect, but he is in no way fazed by issues of this nature.

Do you think the Governor-elect will place special emphasis on road construction?

The road infrastructure network in Abia is a major problem on both federal and state roads. The Governor-elect Dr. Otti is going to give top priority to road reconstruction. His administration will definitely make a difference. Our neighbours especially Akwa Ibom and Rivers states, have set a pace for us. 

Under Governor Sam Mbakwe, Imo State had a road network that was the cynosure of all eyes using Monier Construction Company (MCC) of which he was at a point its legal adviser, to create a modern road network in Imo State. Those halcyon years of trail blazing achievements are the expectations of the people from the Otti Administration. He knows he cannot achieve all of this in a twinkle of an eye, but he is able and excited to do the needful with his team.

Considering the huge wastage and corruption that occurred under the PDP, will Governor-elect Otti let go of recovering some of the loot and focus on the more important project of rebuilding Abia?

If you have been listening to his recent interviews, he is saying just that, which is that the task on ground calls for minimum distraction. A probe into the malfeasance that engulfed the state from the word go, will be more damaging than rewarding. Nothing will come out of such a probe. Therefore, the governor is not likely to travel along such a trajectory. My take is that right now the Governor-elect is working towards hitting the ground running from day one. That is who he is. He knows there are outstanding salaries to be paid; he knows that hungry and sick pensioners have been dropping dead for non-payment of salaries and gratuities; he knows about the problems of the Abia State University Teaching Hospital (ABSUTH). He knows that our hospitals and the health sector are severely damaged. He knows so much is wrong with Abia State, and these are the reasons he is assembling his arsenals for action, gathering a team with zero corruption tolerance as its mantra.

 Finally, what is your message to the Governor-elect?

I have already sent out my message to him. It is an encapsulation of the way the majority of Abians feel right now comparing him with Solomon, king of Israel who was charged to rebuild the Lord’s temple. His victory came with a wide margin over his closest contestant Chief Okechukwu Ahaiwe of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). His entry into the gubernatorial race was strewn with thorns along the way but he withstood the tests and trials guided by the unseen hand of the Almighty. Ndi Abia are jubilating across the country and the global village where they remained awake praying that this huge opportunity of liberation must not be allowed to slip off our hands by the same forces that held Abia captive for 24 years. 

To whom much is given much is expected. There is no doubt that looking at the Governor-elect’s pedigree, that of a man whose mission has been defined, that he would deliver. He is a banker per excellence, just as His Excellency Mr. Peter Obi who chaired Fidelity Bank and helped it experience huge growth. Governor-elect Otti’s years in Diamond Bank as Chief Executive took it out of the doldrums before his resignation to face a greater challenge of liberating Abia State. As an economist and columnist, he has tutored us with brilliant postulations and ideas on how to grow the economy. All of these will come to bear at this momentous opportunity to reconstruct Abia and its economy. 

Ndi Abia will remain loyal partners in this rebuilding project The task ahead is enormous, but we believe one with God is majority. Ndi Abia believe our new governor-elect is a Godsend and are therefore wholeheartedly behind him.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Cost Of Governance: We Don’t Need Senate, House Of Reps — Shekarau



Former governor of Kano State and senator representing Kano Central, Ibrahim Shekarau, has decried Nigeria’s high cost of governance.

Consequently, Shekarau, who spoke in an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Wednesday night, advised President Bola Tinubu to cut down the number of federal lawmakers.

He said: “Left to me, we don’t need to have the two chambers, the two houses. It’s costing the country. I agree, a democracy means getting as many involved as possible, but the way it is going on now, it’s almost 500 legislators nationwide; I don’t think we really need this much at the moment.”

The two chambers of the National Assembly is made up of 109 senators and 360 House of Representatives members, bringing the total number of federal lawmakers to 469.
He, however, expressed doubt if President Bola Tinubu could muscle the political will to do this and other constitutional amendments that would be beneficial to the country.
Shekarau argued further that cutting the number of parastatals would affect the number of oversight assignments, reducing the burden on the nation.
“Then you’ll discover that the legislative arm will also have to be downsized because if there isn’t much to do at the centre, you don’t need all of this sea of hundreds of people really to do oversight assignments.

“I have been subscribing to the idea of devolution of powers. The Federal Government should really cut its own costs by devolving a lot of these responsibilities down the line, to the states and to the local governments,’’ he said.
According to him, the Federal Government is spending “so much” at the centre and creating too many agencies and parastatals.
He said: “Unfortunately, we’ve not had leadership that has the courage. There was the Oronsaye report during Jonathan’s time, which has yet to be implemented.
“Former President Goodluck Jonathan did not implement it; former President Muhammadu Buhari did not implement it.
“The moment you create a parastatal, you’re already talking of board members, chief executive, directors, departments, and the overhead cost of running all these agencies add quite a lot to the expenses of running the government.”

He said cutting down on the number of federal lawmakers and reducing the number of parastatals and agencies would save the country money to be ploughed into areas, including education, health and other social services.

Continue Reading


Senate Presidency: Nigeria’s Constitution Must Be Respected -Yari



former Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz-Yari

A former Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, has said that Nigeria’s constitution remained supreme in his quest to contest the Senate Presidency.

The PUNCH reports that the National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress had adopted Senator Godswill Akpabio and Jubrin Barau as the preferred candidates for the position of Senate President and Deputy, respectively.

Yari, during a courtesy call on the leadership of the New Nigeria People’s Party in Abuja on Thursday night, said he would continue to speak with relevant stakeholders.

Accompanied by a former chairman of the Senate Committees on Gas and Housing, Senator Osita Izunaso, Yari said some people were using religion to disenfranchise credible candidates.

The former governor said he would visit the leadership of the People’s Democratic Party, Labour Party, Young People’s Party, All Progressives Grand Alliance and the Social Democratic Party, to solicit their support.

He said, “The constitution is supreme to any other law. Any law that is not in tandem with the Constitution is null and void. We are very committed to the Nigerian project. We strongly believe that the Constitution is going to prevail.

“We are going to get to the floor of the House and the election will take place. And knowing that it is a democratic setting, we need to be having this kind of engagement.

“This is my first place of call. But I will also visit other parties; Labour Party, SDP, PDP, APGA and YPP and seek the support of their members on this project.

“That is to show to you that the 10th Assembly is completely different in that we knew that we have 7 parties. The vote of every party counts and it is critical to us.

“We are going to continue with this struggle until we get there. It is not over until it is over.

“The most important and encouraging is the president’s speech that he is going to rule Nigeria according to the constitution of Nigeria.”

The acting national chairman of the NNPP, Abba Kawu-Ali, described Yari as a competent leader “capable to occupy the sit of the senate Presidency.”

He said, “Yari has shown his capacity as a two-term governor of Zamfara State, we are confident that when you get there you won’t fail.”

Continue Reading


10th NASS Leadership: APC, Tinubu Back Out Of Akpabio’s Endorsement, Considers Another Option



Tinubu Akpabio

•S-West senators consider fresh option •As Ndume counters claim, says it’s not true

ABUJA- Strong indications, yesterday, suggested that the candidacy of former Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, may have hit a brick wall as President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is said to have withdrawn his support for him in the contest for the Senate President in the 10th National Assembly.

Recall that the All Progressives Congress, APC, had announced the endorsement of Senator Godswill Akpabio and three others for the topmost positions in the National Assembly.

Senator Akpabio from South-South was endorsed for Senate president, Senator Jubrin Barau from North-West for Deputy Senate President, Tajudeen Abass, North-West for speaker, House of Representatives and Kanu, South-East, for deputy speaker.

This did not, however, go down well with some members of the party, especially those aspiring for the position of presiding offices in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, following the protests and condemnation that trailed the party’s endorsements.

It was gathered yesterday that senators, mainly from the South West, have called for a meeting for tomorrow, where they would take a decision to work towards reviewing their position on choice of leadership of the Senate.

According to a senator from one of the states in the South West, the meeting is for senators from the zone to know the outcome of a crucial meeting of the leading tendency among the senators-elect scheduled for Thursday which they have strategically asked some of their members to attend.

President Bola Tinubu is said to have heeded the advice of his trusted political allies by tacitly withdrawing his support for the former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Senator Godswill Akpabio.

The President, sources said, was resolute in running a corruption-free government, with emphasis on strengthening all the existing policies and institutions concerned with anti-corruption towards achieving this goal.

In his inaugural speech, Tinubu declared pointedly that his government would take” proactive steps such as championing a credit culture to discourage corruption, while strengthening the effectiveness and efficiency of the various anti-corruption agencies.”

With this statement, the source said ”most of us have come to the full realization of the fact that President Bola Tinubu would not for anything support any senator with myriads of cases of corruption in the anti-graft agencies after declaring before the world that he would strengthen and make them more effective.”

A senator from one of the state in the S-West confided in Vanguard: “We have seen the follies in remaining in this camp, it will not work. We have fixed a meeting for Thursday where we are going to chart our next line of action.”

However, the Director General for the Akpabio/Barau Stability Group, Senator Ali Ndume, APC, Borno South, said in his reaction to the development yesterday: “It is not surprising that whenever a politically exposed person is contesting elections, some people would be sponsored to raise issues against him or her.

“Don’t forget that President Bola Tinubu was also severally accused when he was campaigning to be president.”

“We are not actually bothered about what the sponsored groups are saying about Akpabio, the anti-graft agencies know what to do. Why are they teaching them what to do?

“They are alleging that some corrupt activities took place under his watch at the NDDC but they did not say he misappropriated funds as governor or as minister.

“Akpabio was not the accounting officer of the NDDC, he only supervised the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs.

“They also accused him of not constituting the board of the NDDC but that also was not his job. The president of the country is saddled with such responsibility.”

Continue Reading


Copyright © Estreet On TV 2023