My Good People of Abia State.
To the glory of God, I address you today on the occasion of the 2nd anniversary of our assumption of office to pilot the affairs of our beloved Abia State. Last year, on this same day, during our first anniversary, I came to you with updates on what we had done and promises of what we will yet do. I am proud to report to you that most of those promises have become tangible realities that we can all see and be proud of.
As you are aware, upon assumption of office, we identified 5 Pillars of Development upon which we purposed to anchor our developmental vision. These pillars are Education, Commerce, Trade, Oil and Gas and Agriculture. The Pillars also had enablers which when taken together, we had no doubt that they had the potentials to accelerate our growth and development as a state and place us on an enviable pedestal.
We have taken considerable steps to deliver on those pillars and enablers and the results are there for all to see. I am grateful to the distinguished Abia leaders who took time yesterday to make inputs into our plans during our interactive session at the International Conference Centre and I assure them that we will take those inputs into cognizance as we move to the next phase of our developmental objectives.
Permit me therefore at this juncture to bring to you, highlights of what we have been able to do within the period under review.
ROADS AND BRIDGES
One of the very first actions I took on the first working day after my swearing-in as Governor was to flag off construction work on roads in Aba and Umuahia. We are mindful of the importance of good roads to the stimulation of economic and social activities and we have not relented since day 1. To date, we have succeeded in completing about 40 roads across the state out of the about 80 roads we embarked upon from inception. Mention must be made of the fact that most of these roads, especially in Aba, are being constructed with rigid pavement technology which guarantees their longevity.
While I will not go into the list of all the roads we have constructed and are constructing as they are contained in the detailed report we have released, permit me to elaborate on some of the roads and their significance.
As you all know, we awarded the contract for the reconstruction of Faulks road late last year to SetracoConstruction Company. A component of the contract was also the solving of the perennial problem of the IfeobaraBasin and Ukwu Mango which hitherto always caused the area to be flooded. Today, to the glory of God, the company has achieved significant milestone in fixing Faulks Road and creatively solving the problem of the Ifeobara Basin.
Equally significant and complementary to the FaulksRoad is the completed work on Dr. Chima Nwafor Road, Umuocham/Umule/Tonimas Triangular Road and our ongoing reconstruction of MCC/Samek Road and Old Express Road. These are critical adjoining roads which are easing movement of goods and services in and out of the Ariaria International Market, our major commercial nerve-centre in Aba. Together with the 35 other roads we have completed in Aba including ongoing work on Aba-Owerri Road, Aba is back in business because the roads we are doing are economic roads. To God be the glory.
Also noteworthy is the fact that we have commenced work on Port-Harcourt Road in Aba which is another key economic road. I assure you that we have engineered a unique funding model for the road and it will be delivered in record time.
In Umuahia, you are all witnesses to the work Arab Contractors are doing on the Aba Road from Stanpol to Isi Court. The quality of the project underpins our determination to ensure that we use the best contractors to deliver the best quality of work in Abia State.
Apart from Lagos and Rivers States, you will be hard-pressed to find another state within our economic bracket where 3 Grade-A Contractors are working simultaneously. We have a contract with Abians to deliver the best and wherever the best are located, we will bring them to work in Abia State.
In Abia North Senatorial District, among all the other roads we are doing including the Abiriba Ring Road, the Abiriba Nkporo Road, the Ohafia Township Roads, the Eluama-Otampka Road, the Eke-Obuzor-Ngodo Road and the Nkpa Road, permit me to single out for special mention, the Bende-Arochukwu Road. This road was conceptualized to serve as an alternative to the perennially impassable Ohafia-Arochukwu Federal Road. I had the opportunity to inspect it during our Thank-You Tour to Arochukwu last week and I witnessed the laying of the bridge on the road. My promise to Abians today is that by Christmas of 2017, the road will be completed and commissioned so that our brothers from that axis can comfortably travel to their communities.
My dear Abians, we have abolished the Federal Road-State Road dichotomy in Abia State. For as long as a road is within Abia State, irrespective of the owners, so long as it is bad, we will fix it. Where we cannot fix the road for a variety of reasons, we shall provide alternative roads. This resolve is borne out of the knowledge that it is our people that ply these roads and we cannot allow them to suffer.
May I also report that we have started work on building 10 kilometers of roads in every Local Government Area in Abia State. We started from Osisioma in Abia Central Senatorial District and my assurance to you is that within the next one year, every Local Government Area in Abia State will feel the impact of our infrastructural development masterplan. Going forward, we will commence work on our Trans-Abia Highway from Nsuluin Isialangwa North to Ikwuano and from Ikwuano to Bende. This road will run through our Cocoa belt and drive agricultural development.
I wish to report to you that within the last 24 months, we have been able achieve a few 1sts.
a. The previously intractable Oomne Drive has survived 24 months and will never be a nightmare again.
b. The hitherto problematic Ukwu Mango will no longer pose a problem. Same with Aba Road, Umuahia.
c. Okon-Aku Community has been re-connected to the rest of Ohafia through the new Okon-Aku Bridge
d. The new bridge we are constructing on the Bende-Arochukwu Road will connect several communities in that axis with their kin for the 1st time in many decades.
e. The 1st Ashpalt Road ever by a State Government in Ugwunagbo LGA is under construction
f. The 1st flyover in Abia State is under construction at Osisioma Junction.
In the years ahead, we will yet embark on many landmark pioneer projects for the benefit of the people of Abia state
As I stated earlier on, Agriculture is one of the strong Pillars of Development of this administration. I am glad to announce that great things are happening in the sector. In the last 2 years, we recovered and revamped government owned lands and oil palm estates hitherto underutilized. Most of them like Ndi Oji and AmaekeRubber Estates, Ohambele Palm Estate, Ulonna North and South Farm Settlement and Ukwa Nkporo Estate have been given out to trusted investors to develop and manage. We set a target for ourselves to raise 7.5 million oil palm seedlings by 2019. Last year, we raised 2 million oil palm tenera seedlings at Ayaba Umueze, Osisioma LGA and we are raising another 2.5 million seedlings this year.
One of our landmark achievements in the agricultural sector is the establishment of a pilot Oyster Mushroom project at the Ministry of Agriculture Headquarters in Umuahia. The Farm has the capacity of accommodating 3,500 bags of mushroom substrates yielding almost N50,000 a day to Abia youths from Â¼ of a plot of land. In pursuit of the policy of our administration to develop 3 Poultry villages/clusters in the state, the Ministry has commenced work at site in Umunna Nsulu, IsialangwaNorth LGA. The Ministry of Agriculture has also developed a 2,500 capacity Ultra Modern layer farm at its Headquarters premises in Umuahia with a production capacity of between 20,000 to 24,000 crates of egg per cycle of 18 months. The State Government in collaboration with the Federal Government has also set up an Ultra Modern Poultry Processing Plant at UmuosuNsulu in Isiala Ngwa. Suffice it to say that Abia State has regained its place as the pre-eminent agricultural state in Nigeria.
In the educational sector, we have in the last 2 years, concentrated on training and retraining of our teachers to equip them to be able to impart current knowledge to our pupils and students. We have since inception, partnered with the Precious Kids Education Empowerment Organization of Australia to bring our Primary Schools at par with modern trends. We have partnered with the organization to provide cognitive and IQ Training, computers, generator sets, toys and modern learning tools for the use of our primary school pupils. We also embarked on a School-feeding programme to provide one healthy meal for all our pupils and the programme has since been adopted by the Federal Government. It is my promise to you today that with all the work we are putting in, no Abia pupil will sit on the floor to study again.
TRADE AND INDUSTRY
Within the period under review, we ramped up our MadeInAba Campaign to great gain. It gives me pleasure to announce to you that our sustained advocacy for the patronage of goods made in Abia State has led to inflow of over N1.5 Billion directly to our SMEs in the last 1 year. The Nigerian Army placed orders for 50,000 Boots to be produced in Aba and since then, we have not looked back. Recently, Ford Foundation unveiled a documentary it sponsored to showcase goods produced in Aba and the campaign is airing on CNN and other International and Local Stations at no cost to the State Government. We have taken the campaign to the next level which is MakeInAba to encourage the establishment of factories and industries in Abia State.
Recently, I was in China on an investment trip and while there, I met with manufacturers of different products from shoes to garments to ceramics to electrical fittings and ICT gadgets.
A week after my return from China, the investors we met while there started coming to Abia State to conclude the discussions and identify land for setting up their factories. In the next couple of weeks, 100 Abia youths will be going to China for 1 year to understudy mechanized shoe production. These crop of young Abians will be the fulcrum upon which we will launch our leap into mechanized production in Abia State.
EASE OF DOING BUSINESS
In our determination to ensure that businesses thrive in Abia State, we have built a One-Stop-Shop in Umuahia for Investment promotion in Abia State. The aim is to ensure that within 2 weeks of coming into Abia State, investors are able to acquire all the documentation they require to commence business. This initiative will accelerate businesses in Abia State and create employment for our teeming youths.
Beloved Abians, time will not permit me to outline all we have done. In line with our policy of open governance and engagement with the people, I have directed my media team to immediately release a detailed version of our activities within the period under review to the general public and we will welcome your feedbacks and inputs.
However, permit me to state that in all, what I will consider to be our greatest achievement is the fact that Abia has regained enormous respect in Nigeria. Nigeria can no longer ignore Abia State and Abians wherever they find themselves can now be proud to identify themselves as Abians.
Recently, the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbanjosigned 3 Executive Orders into Law with one specifically directing the compulsory patronage of local goods by Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies. I am proud to announce to you that Aba and Abia State is a direct beneficiary of that Presidential Order. The Nation has acknowledged our industry and enterprise and we should all be proud.
UNITY OF PURPOSE
As you all are aware, our state witnessed a long period of judicial interventions to determine the rightful occupant of the seat of governance in our dear State. It has pleased God to resolve all the disputes in my favour. Now that the disputes have been conclusively resolved and my mandate, supremely re-affirmed, it is my desire that we all move forward for the work ahead is enormous. I call on all hands to be on deck.
I wish to extend my heartfelt appreciation to Abians from all walks of life for standing strongly behind us throughout our travails. Your unalloyed support gave me the confidence to match resolutely on despite our challenges and I owe you a debt of gratitude.
I have extended invitations to all political leaders in Abia including those that contested the seat of Governorship with me at different courts to come and let us work together. My only desire is to see the development of Abia State and I welcome the input of all Abians.
Ndi Abia ndi nwem, much as I can confidently state that we have done a lot in the last 2 years, I will equally be the first to acknowledge that there is still a lot of work to be done in different areas. I am unhappy with the fact that although we are up to date in the payment of the salaries of civil servants in the state, many teachers and pensioners are still being owed. I wish to reaffirm my commitment to the welfare of workers and further pledge to find a lasting solution to the salary impasse within the next few months.
On a global scale, I want all Abians to be rest assured that every sector will feel the touch of our administration. We promise to use what God has done for us as a springboard to create wealth and better life for Ndi Abia. Unu ebela, Chi anyi din du.
I thank you all for listening. God bless Abia State.