Speech delivered by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu on the occasion of the 24th anniversary of Abia State

It gives me great joy to address you today on the occasion of the 24th Anniversary of the creation of Abia State which we are commemorating today as Abia Day.
On this day in 1991, the Federal Military regime of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida created this beautiful state thus actualising the long agitation of our founding fathers for a geographical identity that will ensure that development gets closer to the people.
Let me start by thanking God Almighty for how far he has brought us as a people. We have been through challenges and trials as a people but at critical moments in our history, God has always validated the acronym given to Abia State by its founding fathers as Gods Own State. We have experienced security challenges, political upheavals and economic downturns but through it all, our spirits have remained unshakeable, our resilience stood us apart and our communal devotion and dedication to making our state a better place helped us remain one strong united people.
Today, from our humble beginnings, we have made landmark strides in human and material infrastructure. I will be the first to admit that we are not yet where we hoped we would be but I will also insist that we are not where we used to be. It is a progressive journey and I call for all hands to be on deck as we march on.
I wish to pay special tribute to the founding fathers of Abia State. To those who have since joined their ancestors, we celebrate you and we say that for as long as we celebrate Abia State, your memories will forever loom large in our midst. To those who are still with us, we pledge our unflinching commitment to actualising the Abia you envisaged when you were agitating for the creation of Abia State.
We are here because of your sacrifices and your tenacity. You toiled, strategized, met countless times and dedicated physical and emotional resources to the actualisation of the creation of Abia State therefore what we the beneficiaries of your sacrifice owe you is to strive to translate your dreams for Abia State into reality.
It has been three months since I was sworn-in as Governor and my team and I mounted the saddle of leadership in Abia State. Within the last three months, we have had to compartmentalise the impact we intend to make into the three broad categories of short-term, medium term and long term interventions.
Some of the actions we are taking will be immediately visible to you in the short term and I have no doubt that you are already experiencing appreciable activity in several sectors especially road construction, desilting of drains, harmonisation of our payroll system covering both salaries and pensions and a few other areas.
While these are the activities that are immediately visible to the naked eyes, there are yet a lot of things we are doing which are by their very nature medium or long-term projects which may not be immediately visible until after a while. An example of this is our drive to revolutionalise the industrial sector in Abia State. We have been holding countless meetings with private investors, development agencies and interventionist financial institutions to catalyse the influx of investment into Abia State. A lot of those meetings have borne positive fruit and within a very short time, the investors will commence operations in their different sectors.
Again, we have been working in the background with the Abia State House of Assembly to get Legislative endorsement for some of our plans. Some are coming by way of Bills for the creation of new agencies while others are coming by way of Statutory Legislative Resolutions for certain actions we wish to embark on.
Let me at this juncture commend the other arms of Government – The Legislature and the Judiciary for their support for our administration so far. I acknowledge that we have all had to make sacrifices these early stages of the administration by depriving ourselves certain legitimate entitlements for the stability of the system. I commend you for your sacrifices and thank you on behalf of the state.
My beloved Abians, I am fully aware that some of the measures we have adopted in strengthening our processes may be causing some of you some inconveniences. I plead for the understanding of our workers and pensioners who have had to undergo a rigorous verification exercise in other to regularise their data for hitch-free payments in the future. I wish to announce to you that the biometric staff verification exercise we undertook has saved our state about N160 Million which was hitherto being lost through payment to ghost workers and other deliberate manipulation of the system.
I plead for your understanding as we round up the process and give the assurance that once we complete the ongoing verification process, our administration shall not owe any worker in Abia State their due entitlement. I am happy to report that we have resolved lingering industrial disputes in some of our parastatals and institutions which has enabled them to shelve their planned industrial action in some instances and have seen them returning to work after a prolonged strike in other instances.
In the same vein, I am happy to report that the non-Abia Teachers in our Primary and Secondary Schools who were disengaged sometime back and recalled recently have been fully reintegrated into our payroll system. I can confirm that they have all received their June 2015 salaries which is a tangible confirmation of their recall.
We have set in motion the process for the revival of Technical and Vocational Studies in Abia State through a scheme which seeks to ensure that education in Abia State leads to employment. We are currently conducting baseline assessments and feasibility studies aimed at ascertaining specific needs and intervention modalities in some key sectors of Agriculture, Health, Oil & Gas and the productive sector.
Beloved Abians, the journey to a better Abia State requires our collective efforts. It is not something that can be left for government alone to carry out. We all individually and collectively have roles to play in actualising the Abia of our dreams. I therefore use the occasion of the 2015 Abia Day to make a passionate appeal for your cooperation with government for the good of the state.
Your cooperation is required in the area of payment of approved taxes as well as obedience to government directives on relocation of shops to approved markets and measures introduced by government to ensure a cleaner environment.
Government has harmonised the tax system in Abia State and eliminated avenues for extortion of innocent Abians. The Board of Internal Revenue has been directed to immediately make public the list of approved taxes, the collecting agents and the receiving banks and account details for payment. In the shortest possible time, no single kobo of tax in Abia State will be payable in cash. All payments due to government in all Ministries, Departments, Agencies of Government and other service points will be paid to receiving banks and tellers presented to officials as proof of payment.
As promised during our inauguration, we have been holding interactions with sectors of the populace to update them on our plans. We will continue with the sector engagements to keep Abians abreast of developments and ensure that we are all on the same page at all times.
We are not under any illusion that the journey will be smooth. However, our determination remains unwavering. We know for a fact that Abians are a great people and the spirit God has deposited in us as a people is a positive spirit. As a government, we pledge that we will always put the interest of Abians before any other interest. Under our watch, we will ensure that we do what is best for Abia State at all times.
I wish to reassure the present generation that with the work we are doing in Abia State today, we are laying a solid foundation for a future Abia that will be the envy of all.
We have identified the things we need to do to get us to where we want to go and we are resolute that the Abia State we will bequeath to our children will be far better than the Abia State we inherited from our parents.
We are on course. We are determined and we are focused. Together, we will collectively build the Abia of our dream.
May God continue to bless you all and May God bless Abia State