Text of Remarks by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, Represented by Honorable Commssioner For Information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu, during the formal Opening Ceremony of BUZZ 89.7 FM Radio Station in Aba on Saturday, 14 December 2019.
When we came on board in 2015, we deliberately identified trade and industry among the five development pillars of our administration in recognition of the fact that our people historically have comparative advantage in these areas. To build on these pillars, we decided to, among other things, mainstream road infrastructure development, improve ease of doing business, optimally utilise media advocacy and promote the ingenuity of our youths using “Made in Aba” brands as our anchor.
Four years down the line, we have recorded modest achievements which even our most acerbic critics cannot deny. We have completed 78 road projects with 93 others at various stages of completion. In Aba, roads like MCC, Samek, Ehere, Ukaegbu, Umuola, Ovom, Kamalu, Umuatako, Umuehilegbu, Chima Nwafor, Umuode, Adaelu, 3 clusters of road in the Ngwa Road axis, East Street, Obikabia, Umule and many others are wearing a new look while work is ongoing on others including Brass/Faulks, Eziukwu, Osusu, Aba-Owerri Road etc.
Currently, our administration has embarked on zero pothole operations and our contractors are active in many road project sites including the following:
Aba Road to Railway Crossing in Umuahia South LGA.
Abiriba – Etitiama Nkporo Road in Ohafia LGA.
Afo Ibeji flood control and road reconstruction project in Umuahia South LGA.
Ururuka Road in Obingwa LGA
Obikabia Road in Obingwa LGA
Emelogu Road, Ogbor Hill, Aba, in Aba North LGA.
Eziukwu Road, Aba, in Aba South LGA
Osisioma junction area opposite Ngwa High School along Aba-Owerri Road Aba, Osisioma LGA.
Osisioma interchange at Osisioma junction Aba, Osisioma LGA.
Ekeakpara Road, Aba, Osisioma Ngwa LGA
Opobo Road, Aba, in Obingwa LGA
Osusu Road, Aba, Aba South LGA
Ahaba Unueze Road Aba, Osisioma Ngwa LGA
Okpu Umuobo/ Mgboko Rd is along Osisioma Ngwa and Obingwa LGA
Amuda erosion site at Isuochi, Umunneochi LGA
Osakwa – Aro Umuejie – Umoba Road, Isiala Ngwa South LGA
Ongoing zero pothole project in Aba
Ongoing zero pothole project in Umuahia
In the coming weeks, many more will join as we continue to push on with the agenda to reconstruct socio-economically important roads in Aba and Abia State.
We have rapidly moved up the ladder in ease of doing business with physical structures like the Abia Investment House put in place to support our drive to make it easier for investors coming to our state while at the same time offering tax waivers of up to 5 years to new investors in selected areas. We have also taken measures to continuously improve security of lives and property. It is not by accident that today our state is ranked among the safest in Nigeria and have received acknowledgements as the most peaceful state in the country. To the glory of God, since 2015, not even a single bank robbery has been recorded in Abia State and we continue to work to continuously be ahead of those who might wish to disrupt the security of our state. In Nigeria, we are the first state to create the ministry of homeland security with a mandate to deploy all the resources of the state to secure our people and their businesses. We have also extensively equipped security agencies in the state with more than 70 units of patrol vehicles equipped with modern security and communication gadgets donated to enhance the operations of security agencies in our State.
Yet, many will acknowledge that our promotion of “Made in Aba” brands is one effort of the administration that has received wide applause locally and internationally. Through this focused campaign, we have been able to bring to the front burner the ingenuity of our young people and attracted support to our industrialization agenda. Today, Ariaria International Market is enjoying uninterrupted power supply as a result of the support we received from Rural Electrification Agency of the federal government which has ensured that shoe makers within the Ariaria cluster can power their equipment and produce more. The first and only set of licenses issued by the federal government for power generation and distribution within a market were for Ariaria International Market. Geometric Power company has made progress in its efforts to launch sale of uninterrupted power supply to Aba and its environs with the first quarter of 2020 set as roll out target by the firm.
In addition, Aba is today recognized as the SME capital of Nigeria and the Bank of Industry has returned to the state to support our entrepreneurs because of our focused campaign for Made in Aba. Our manufacturers have received more than N4bn worth of direct orders from institutions such as the Nigerian military, Presidency and others. A visit to our markets will confirm that relative to the situation we met on ground in 2015, Aba traders and businessmen are on the forward march again.
Our flagship industrialization project, Enyimba Economic City (EEC), is progressing rapidly. Recently, the business plan for the city won the first prize in the Charter Cities Business Plan Contest for 2019 with a cash prize of $25,000. Many international blue chip companies have also committed to invest In EEC with AFREXIM Bank and AfDB recently supporting the drive to mobilize more foreign capital to support the city. We expect the formal commencement of work at the more than 9,300 hectares of land city to commence in 2020 with more than 700,000 jobs expected to be created in its first 10 years. Today is the time for Igbo investors to stake their claim to this project that represents the single largest post-civil war industrialization program in Igbo land. EEC is home to the only free trade zone license issued within the south east region and is also licensed to host an inland port.
Much of the gains recorded so far by our administration have come as a result of the support of the media, particularly those in Abia, that keyed into our agenda early in the administration. Buzz 89.7 FM Aba is exemplary in this regard. We observed that the promoters of this broadcast station made the promotion of Made in Aba brands a key objective in establishing the station and, hence, tied their responsibility of informing, educating and entertaining Abians around that agenda. It is in recognition of this that we are here today to honor your invitation to participate in the formal opening of your station.
To us, this station is a model of what broadcast stations in our state should be: partners in progress with the government and the people. On your own, you have taken up this noble task of promoting what is good about our people including their businesses, culture and tradition. You have launched campaigns against indiscipline, social vices and promoted citizen-government dialogue through your interactive programs.
Permit me therefore to, on behalf of the government and people of Abia State, express our sincere appreciation to you.
Our assurance is that we will continue to provide the enabling environment for you and others to excel. We subscribe to the saying that the backbone of any democracy is an independent, professional and responsible media, hence, this administration is irrevocably and firmly committed to press freedom, and Abia State, under our watch, has been acknowledged as one of the states where media practitioners have been carrying out their duties without any fetters, let or hindrance. This is not by accident but rather as a matter of recognition of the fact that democracy thrives when citizens are adequately informed and mobilized towards the objective of greater development and social order. We remain committed to ensuring that all tenets of democracy are observed in our dear state as a matter of moral and constitutional responsibility.
As we formally open Buzz FM station today, we congratulate the management and staff of the station for this milestone. You have started well but surely can end even better. Be assured of our continuing support and partnership as we work together to do more for our people.
Thank you and God bless you.