SPEECH DELIVERED BY DR. OKEZIE IKPEAZU, GOVERNOR, ABIA STATE ON THE OCCASION OF THE 55TH INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA

I count it a privilege to address you today on the occasion of the 55th Independence Anniversary of our dear country Nigeria. On this day 55 years ago in Lagos, the Union Jack of the British Colonial Masters was lowered while the Green White Green flag of the Independent Federal Republic of Nigeria was hoisted for the first time.
Nigeria’s independence was not attained on an easy platter. It was a culmination of years of struggle, agitation, intellectual arguments, selflessness and a nationalistic fervor that brought out the best in our leaders. Sacrifices were made for the attainment of the larger goal and ambitions were subsumed to enable the dream to be actualized.
55 years down the line, Nigeria has been through many epochs. As much as we have witnessed many challenges, we have also witnessed remarkable triumphs. Indeed, as a people, we have a lot to be thankful to God for.
To all those who contributed in one way or another to the birthing of our beloved country Nigeria that we all call home today, I commend them to the verse in our National Anthem which says that the labours of our heros past shall never be in vain.
Abia State officially became a state within the Nigerian Union on August 28, 1991. That was the day the Government of President Ibrahim Babangida fulfilled the desires of our eminent founding fathers. I pay tribute to them both living and transited and my prayer is that God will continue to honour their sacrifices.
As you all are aware, we have embarked a voyage of consolidating on the greatness of Abia State. Our ship set sail on May 29, 2015 and we immediately commenced an epochal journey sure of our destination and unwavering in our commitment to get there.
We have since inception initiated a number of projects and taken a number of measures aimed at sanitizing the system and enthroning a culture of fiscal discipline and prudent management of available resources to meet our developmental objectives.
My beloved Abians, I am aware that you are currently undergoing different forms of hardships. From the difficult traffic situation in Aba to the poor state of access roads inside the Ariaria International Market and other markets. Whatever challenges any Abian is currently facing, I as your Governor express my deepest concern and assure you that I share in your pain. My team and I are working round the clock to ensure that we resolve most of these challenges confronting our people.
It is for this reason that we embarked on a massive reconstruction of existing roads in the State and building new ones to create alternative outlets that will ease the pressure on the roads currently in use and create options for road users. Ordinarily, it is expensive and logistically challenging to build roads during the rainy season but due to the extent of suffering our people are going through, we cannot wait for the dry season before we commence work on our roads.
Again, working during this rainy season has helped us determine the direction of flow of rainwater which will in the long run help the integrity of the roads we are building.
Most importantly, our massive drainage desilting exercise has saved Abia State from calamity. Those of you conversant with news of national events would have read or heard of floods causing massive havoc in at least 4 states in the North and 2 in the South. I dare say that if we had not embarked on our construction activities and opened our drains, Abia State would have been a victim of flooding due to the sheer quantity of rain that fell this year. To God be the glory.
I therefore wish to use this medium to plead for the understanding of the people experiencing one hardship or another and remind you that it gets darkest shortly before the break of dawn. The day is about to break. A new dawn is in the horizon and in a very short while, you will witness the manifestation of the work we have been doing.
As you are all aware, Abia State is one of the states that applied to the Federal Government for bailout funds to defray outstanding salaries and emoluments owed workers in the state.
The Central bank of Nigeria approved N14.15 for Abia State for this purpose. I have since set up a committee to manage these funds and ensure that it is judiciously utilized for the purpose for which it was requested. I wish to reiterate my charge to the members of the Bailout Committee to ensure that by Friday, October 30, 2015, all outstanding Salaries and Pensions in Abia State have been defrayed.
I wish to state that contrary to the fears expressed in some quarters, the setting up of the committee to manage the disbursement of the funds does not have any ulterior consideration. The work of the Committee is not costing us any money. It is made up of those who are already in the system and they are working for their state. We are not a profligate government. We will not spend a kobo of your money without justification. It is for this reason that we did not embark on any elaborate celebration for our 100 days in office like some of our contemporaries did. What we simply did was to tour our on-going projects which was done within the normal schedule of our activities thus eliminating the need for elaborate events that cost huge sums of money to organize.
Let me also reiterate my desire to run an open and honest government which keeps the people informed about what government is doing at every point in time. We are mindful of the fact that we are here at your behest and we owe you the people and the voters the duty of reporting back to you what we are doing with the mandate you so graciously gave to us to govern you.
Beloved Abians, in the spirit of this year’s Independence day, I wish to make an open call on Abians with a creative streak to submit their designs for a new Abia State Logo and Anthem. The Logo and Anthem will encapsulate our core values as a people and represent our heritage and symbols. Within the next 30 days, we will review all the entries we receive and pick the best for unveiling as the new official Logo and Anthem of Abia State.
I wish to call upon our people to support all the new initiatives introduced by government for the good of the people. I urge you to support our new Internally Generated Revenue collection process. Cooperate with the new consultants we have engaged and pay your taxes to the appropriate bank accounts to help government serve you better.
I also urge our eligible youths to register for the Education for Employment (E4E) Programme so that they can be imbued with requisite skills that will make them fit for employment in Abia State and beyond. Our Office of Aba Urban Renewal and our Market Development Committee are also in the field working to make things better for the people. Kindly cooperate with them.
My people, we are steadily marching towards a bright future that is secured. That future we envisage will be anchored on the principle of Prosperity through Enterprise. We are a naturally enterprising people. What our administration is therefore doing is to create the enabling environment for your various enterprising endeavours to thrive thus guaranteeing your prosperity.
We are in this together. We will complement one another. This government is of the people, by the people and for the people and together, we will bring about a new order in Abia State. My team and I are committed and the enthusiasm I see on the streets when I interact with the people tells me that you are also committed to this new paradigm.
If there is any State in Nigeria with the potentials to become a truly great economic powerhouse, Abia is that State with the natural advantages God has bestowed upon us. To get to where we are going, we all need to make sacrifices. When the rewards come, we will all also collectively partake in the reward. We will not leave anyone behind. With your cooperation, we will do great exploits together.
I have no doubt that the future of Abia State is bright. So help us God.
Long live Abia State!
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!!!
Happy Independence Day!!!

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