Abia State government has declared that the decision to totally reconstruct the popular Ngwa Road Market in Aba was informed by the need to save the people living in that commercial city from impending doom.
Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, who disclosed this in a radio programme in Umuahia on Tuesday, explained that traders in the market were in the habit of bringing out their wares to the adjourning streets to sell, thereby blocking the roads and exposing both the traders, their clients, passersby and motorists to danger.
Similarly, Ikpeazu stated that his government will also reconstruct the Ariaria International Market as well as Eziukwu Market to make the markets meet international standard and taste.
He vowed that no trader would be asked to pay any amount to repossess their shops, adding that an inconvenience allowance will even be paid to them for their displacement suffered while the reconstruction lasted.
On the current economic challenges, Governor Ikpeazu said despite the economic challenges confronting the nation, his decision to harness the ingenuity and creativity of Abia citizens are gradually paying off as Abia has become the Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) capital of Nigeria.
Fielding questions from callers on the radio programme, Ikpeazu noted that since assumption of office in 2015, his administration has focused on prioritising what is best for the people, hence, the reason he pays attention on Aba which, as the commercial nerve centre of the state “and the hen that lays the golden egg”.
The Abia chief executive believed that Abia will soon be free from dependence on federal allocation based on the revenues that can be generated from the Enyimba City if the right developmental structures are fully put in place.
His word, “In the next 20 to 30 years, my vision is that we’ll have a state that will no longer be going to Abuja for allocation and if that is to be possible, then we need to begin to do something intentional about the economy of the state and economic activity around the economic nerve centre which is Aba; that is why we have decided to pay such attention to the place.
“We also decided to mainstream those things which we can do better than other people and it is clear now that we are the best”’.
According to him, “Abia has remained the SMEs capital of Nigeria since the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osibajo pronounced us so in 2016 based on requisite economic indices. Abia also won an Award for being in the top five among other states of the federation in the Ease of Doing Business category, while we were number three in the Foreign Direct Investment category, as well as third only to Lagos and Abuja as recently pronounced .
“Even those who do not like us have come to realise that the narratives have changed. Today, when you introduce yourself as an Abian, you can no longer be associated with Osisikanku. No, you will more likely be associated with what you can do in terms of shoes, bags, or the garments, the beautiful dresses we wear, or a resilient entrepreneur, or a potential one; someone who works, somebody prepared to make contributions to the economic growth of this country”.
On the criticisms that trail his administration, Ikpeazu reemphasised that criticisms make his administration to perform more; saying that this is why the state has benchmarked its average in terms of performance, higher than the national average.
On education, the governor explained that Abia’s narrative is strong enough to stand on its own, revealing that his administration has built over 650 classroom blocks, four model schools; established a Teacher Continuing Education Centre that trains and retrains teachers, and has maintained a leading position in education.
“The icing on the cake is that this government is sending 50 young Abians abroad for higher education on our overseas scholarship scheme despite the inflation in the nation’s economy.
“Ordinarily, nobody thinks about sponsoring overseas scholarships in such a situation but we celebrated the receipt of Visa for 18 of our youths going to Australia and another 10 going to India, that is 28, for further studies, and we want to make it up to 50 before the end of this year”, he added.
“Meanwhile, this first batch of 28 or 30 of them will be traveling very soon, as soon as these countries open their borders in response to the COVID situation”, he further informed.
He assured that the Engineering and Pharmacy Departments, with over 15 buildings, of Abia State University, located at Osisioma Aba will begin lectures before the end of the year, noting that the development will surely rub off on the state’s economy.
On the School of Health Technology, Aba, the governor revealed that work at the permanent site of school at Obingwa is going on speedily and that it will be ready before the end of his administration.
On health, Ikpeazu talked of the state’s intervention through the tele-health scheme and announced that the scheme was published in the UK as a novel and ingenious strategy to deepen health care delivery.
He pointed out that over 800 Primary Health Centres of the state are connected to Government House, Umuahia through a central system, adding that access is made with the touch of a button for quick response to health emergency.
Uche Nwosu is a two time Shell Petroleum PLC award winner in the year 2000;
He won the Shell Award on Investigative Journalism and Environmental Cleanliness.