1. My Good People of Abia State
It is with gratitude to God for his love for Abia State that I address you today on the occasion of the 57th Independence Anniversary of Nigeria as a country.
2. This year’s Independence day celebration holds even more significance for us in Abia State because of the events of the penultimate week where the peace and tranquility of Abia State was subjected to disruption and an unprecedented attack.
3. We were all witnesses to the heightened tension that engulfed the state, brought about by clashes between the Nigerian Military and members of a group called Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). Our calm and peaceful state was caught in a cross-fire that threatened to engulf the state and indeed the South East Region in a deadly crisis.
4. God has once again proved to us that Abia is indeed God’s own State as He did not allow the devices of evil ones to come to fruition. What would have led to a National crisis was miraculously nipped in the bud and God spared the lives of our people here in Abia State and even those living in different parts of the country, especially the North.
5. The ripple effects of the crises would have led to unprecedented national carnage and destruction but God stepped in and protected His people. We give God all the glory for granting us the wisdom and courage to manage the situation and stave off what could have been massive loss of precious lives.
6. Let me use this opportunity to thank Abians and all residents of Abia State for their support and understanding while the crisis lasted. For every loss and discomfort you suffered in the course of the crisis, I sympathize with you and thank you for your sacrifices.
7. Let me also thank my brother Governors in the South east and Northern regions for their solidarity and for taking steps to ensure that there were no spillovers of the crisis in the North and neighboring south east states which would have undoubtedly been at great cost to our brethren over there.
8. Let the events of the past weeks serve as a reminder to us of the need for peace and unity. I will be the first to admit to you that the Nigerian Union is not a perfect one but it is also my strong belief that there is no agitation and demand that cannot be resolved via dialogue and strategic engagement. Individually and as a collective, the political, social and traditional leadership of the South East Region is engaged in conversations to guarantee a better deal for the people of the region and the trust, belief and understanding of our people is sought to ensure that we get what is due to us.
9. Beloved Abians, despite various challenges, I am glad to announce to you that we have made steady progress towards ensuring that we keep our electoral promises to the people of Abia State. Abia still remains the only state within its financial bracket which has 3 Grade A contractors working simultaneously.
10. I proudly announce to you that with the abatement of the rains, Setraco Construction Company is in the process of deploying equipments to commence construction work along Port Harcourt Road Aba. This is in addition to on-going work by the same company at Faulks road where appreciable progress has been made.
11. The Chinese company handling the Osisioma interchange project has erected pillars to hold the overhead slabs which have been fabricated at their yard close by. Arab Contractors have also resumed work along Aba Road in Umuahia and other infrastructural development work is on-going at various locations in the state.
12. Our flagship projects in other areas, including the Bende-Idima-Abam-Arochukwu Road, Ururuka Road Aba and several other projects across the State have restarted.
13. I take special pride in the roads we have done in the Ngwa Road axis of Aba as this would be the first time durable roads will ever be constructed in that axis.
14. The essence of Government should be to touch the lives of every strata of society and it gives me great satisfaction to see the joy on the faces of the inhabitants of that axis who can at last feel the impact of Government in their neighborhood. We hope to do much more around that axis.
15. Our work in the Ngwa Road axis is a signpost that for as far as our resources permit, we will touch as many lives as possible in Abia State. We therefore continue to count on the understanding of our people while assuring them that we will do what is right for all Abians at every point in time in the life of our administration.
16. Just last week, I held a meeting with Pensioners in Abia State. These are our heroes past whom we promised that we would not allow their labours to be in vain. I am glad that we were able to discuss frankly and were able to appreciate each other’s challenges.
17. I wish to reiterate my promise to them at the interactive session that we have set modalities in place to pay more attention to them and commence the process of defraying backlogs of their pensions and gratuities. I am committed to ensuring that our senior citizens enjoy their retirement with peace of mind.
18. In one of my precious communication to you, I informed you that we were taking steps to train Abia youths in China on the processes of Automated Shoemaking. I am glad to announce to you that the process of selection of the youths have been completed and the modalities for the training sorted out.
19. The first batch of 30 youths will be leaving for China this month and upon return, they will form the nucleus of our mechanization and automation revolution in shoemaking in Aba and Abia State.
20. I wish use this medium to charge the selected 30 youths to be focused on what they are being sent to China to go and do and make the State proud during and after their training. In the not too distant future, Aba will once again take the centre-stage as the premier destination in Nigeria, West and Central Africa on all matters to do with fashion and accessories.
21. Our developmental paradigm is integrated. We are constructing key economic roads that will serve as avenues for the movement of goods and services into and out of our commercial centers which will in-turn, lead to improved revenue for the people and government leading to a vibrant state economy to the benefit of all.
22. In the next couple of years, we shall actualize our vision of making the Abia South Senatorial Zone the industrial hub of the State. This shall be achieved using the vehicle of the current works we are doing in Aba as well as our pursuit of the realization of the Enyimba Industrial City spanning across Ugwunagbo, Ukwa East and Ukwa West LGAs of Abia State.
23. We shall intensify efforts towards establishing Agro Processing Plants in Abia Central Senatorial District while developing Abia North Senatorial Zone as our Agricultural hub. The Agro products that will be produced in Abia North Senatorial Zone will be processed at the Plants in Abia Central Senatorial Zone for local, national and international consumption.
24. Ndi Abia Ndi Nwem, I wish to reassure you that we are resolutely on course. Irrespective of the hiccups and obstacles we face along the way, our determination is unwavering and our faith is unshaken. The destination remains clear: a greater Abia.
We will surely get there.
25. As the nation marks her independence, I wish to felicitate with the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, the Government and people of Nigeria on this occasion and assure Mr. President that the Abia State Government is committed to working with him in his desire to build the Nigeria of our dreams.
26. May God continue to grant us leaders, the wisdom to actualize the expectations of the citizenry of our state and this great nation.
27. I thank you very much for your attention and I wish you a happy 57th Independence Day Celebration.
Dr Okezie Ikpeazu
Governor of Abia State.