MY GOOD PEOPLE OF ABIA STATE
It is with gratitude to God for how far he has brought us that I address you today on the occasion of the third anniversary of our assumption of office as Governor of Abia State.
Looking back over these past three years from where we are coming from to where we are now, there is a lot to be thankful to God for. I have no hesitation in returning all the glory to God for all that has transpired in the last three years for He is the foundation upon which our administration was built and there is nothing we could have done without Him.
Even before we were sworn into office, we articulated what we needed to do and had a clear agenda. When we set out, not a lot of people understood the rationale behind some of the actions we took because they were not conventional but I have no doubt that they are all becoming clearer now as the outcomes have started manifesting. Therefore I remain grateful to Ndi Abia for their patience and understanding.
When we started by desilting and dredging the Aba River, we were preparing the reception of the stormwater that will be conveyed by the drainages that will come with the roads we are presently constructing at Aba. I am therefore happy to acknowledge that all the roads we have built so far are still standing today because we solved the problem leading to their collapse before we rebuilt them.
In the same vein, we started by attracting a lot of attention to Aba with our Made In Aba Campaign and it did not seem clear what we were doing when we set out but we knew the eventual destination. Today, the campaign has assumed a life of its own. By the personal examples we set and our efforts in getting key political and social figures to key into the campaign, everyone is now proud to wear Made In Aba. The Federal Government has literally taken over the campaign and Aba is enjoying a new lease of life.
The initial roads we built to ventilate Aba, the campaign we started and the support we are attracting were all thought through and we thank God it is all culminating in the opening up of the economy of Aba and Abia State on a scale never witnessed before.
Ndi Abia, As you know, I usually use my broadcasts to you to provide highlights of what we are doing for want of time. My media team are simultaneously releasing a detailed version of our achievements in the last 3 years and I encourage you to avail yourself of the document so that you can be armed with facts and information of how we are utilizing the mandate you have given us to upgrade the fortunes of Abia State.
I place it on record that I am one of the most open Governors and political leaders in Nigeria with the frequency of my interactions with the people. I have held a total of 18 Town Hall Meetings with Abians in Abia State and outside the State and 34 uncensored live phone-in Radio and TV programmes in the last 3 years. This is in recognition of the fact that we derive our mandate from you the people and we are accountable to you. My frequent interactions with you have enriched my understanding of your problems and needs and has further sharpened my focus and determination to serve you better.
Permit me therefore, my employers, to update you on some of the work we have done within the last three years especially in our socio-economic sectors from where we derived our key Pillars and Enablers.
The Health sector is one area we have stamped our mark and rolled out a number of innovative policies that are all integrated and geared towards ensuring improved indices, quality of life and general life expectancy in Abia State. Starting from our young ones, we have acquired a building along Bende Road in Umuahia we are using solely as a Specialist Mother and Child Hospital to guarantee the best antenatal, post natal, and neonatal services in Abia State. We have ordered the equipments to be used in furnishing the Hospital from the United States of America and they are enroute Abia State as I speak.
When this hospital is fully functional in the next few months, I will require a report of every child that dies pre-term, during childbirth and after birth in Abia State. This measure is not for punitive measures but to understand what happened and forestall a recurrence. This underscores the premium our Government attaches to the lives of every child in our state.
For our adults, we have resuscitated the long-moribund General Hospital in Aba as well as opened a new General Hospital at Obingwa. Other General Hospitals at Okeikpe, Ikwuano, Nkporo and Arochukwu are nearing completion. This is designed to bridge the secondary health gap in the State and strengthen the efficiency of our Primary and Tertiary Health Centres.
This will be complemented by the work we are doing with our Critical Care Programme as well as the Accident Victim Rescue Initiative under ASPIMS. We have acquired and deployed state-of-the art Mobile Hospital Ambulances in strategic locations around the state for Emergency Medical Services. We have created Trauma Units at the Amachara General Hospital and the Aba General Hospital and we are finishing work on a Trauma Centre at Ohafia. More Centres will come on stream as we progress so that we can meet our ultimate target of ensuring that critical help can be accessed by Abians within 10 minutes of an emergency anywhere in the state.
For our senior citizens, we have rolled out our Free Geriatric Health Programme where we take medical care to the homes of our elderly ones who are 70 years old and above. We place a lot of emphasis on the health of our people and we want to ensure that we are able to reach those who cannot get to our health centres due to age-related weaknesses and infirmities. The promise of our Government is that we will expand this initiative to enable us reach more patients in many more communities.
The flagship of our Integrated Healthcare Delivery Framework is our Tele-Health Initiative which was commissioned by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on the 12th of April, 2018. The novel programme, first of its kind in Nigeria, sees Abians using a pre-paid call card to call dedicated medical hotlines in the event of health emergencies and trained Doctors and Nurses will assist them over the phone to manage the situation until they get to the nearest Health Centre they will be directed to.
This initiative earned us accolades in Rwanda during an international conference I attended and our model was recommended by global health practitioners as the solution to bridge critical care between occurrence of a health emergency and when physical help is received.Most importantly, we shall deepen Universal access to medicare through the escalation of our Tele-Health Initiative, which is presently linked to our 292 Primary Healthcare Centres.
Ndi Abia ndi nwem, I take time to highlight all of this to underscore the fact that we take healthcare very seriously in Abia State. Within the next one year, I will be glad to report to you that Abia is topping the charts on our key health indices including maternal and infant mortality rate and life expectancy.
Beloved Abians, we have adopted the same integrated bottom-top approach I outlined in our Health Sector to tackle the challenges of our Educational sector.
We are deploying a 3-pronged strategy to drive rapid development in our education sector. This is so because our administration realizes the fact that the burden of high expenditure in Education must be lifted from the shoulders of the average Abia parent. The objective is to reverse enrolment from private schools to public schools. Our 3-pronged approach includes
i. Capacity Building: we decided to ensure that the Teachers teaching our pupils had the requisite training for their roles. We therefore embarked on the Retraining of our Primary school Teachers. To date, we have trained over 1500 teachers in partnership with an NGO fromAustralia. Before the end of 2018, we will be sending some of our primary school teachers to Australia for practical experience of the teaching and learning environment in other climes. We decided to give emphasis to our Primary schoolsbecause we believe it is foundational and fundamental. Our end result is that a motivated student population will receive tutelage in decentinfrastructures from well-trained teachers.
ii. Massive Infrastructural Development: We decided to improve the state of the physical structures where they are learning from. Beginning from our Primary schools, we are currently renovating a total of 304 Primary Schools around Abia State under our Universal Basic Education Board.
iii. Welfare for our Pupils: You will recall that our administration pioneered the School Feeding Programme even before the Federal Government decided to commence her own School Feeding Programme. Worthy of note is the fact that the Federal Government School Feeding Programme targets pupils from Primary 1 to 3 while the Abia State School Feeding Programme covers pupils from Primary 1 to 6
The direct result of this policy is that our public primary school enrolment has grown threefold from 115,000 pupils per annum in 2015 when we came on board to 348,000 pupils per annum in 2017. We are set to improve that number during the new-session resumption in 2018.
For our Secondary Schools, in addition to the 68secondary schools we are renovating, we have reached advanced stages in the construction of 4 pilot Model Schools in Abia State. Each of these Model Schoolswill have, inside a fenced compound, an E-library with IT Equipments, Teachers Quarters, Male and Female Hostels, Solar-Powered Laboratories, Standard Sports Facilities and Modern Classroom Blocks. All 4 Pilot schools spread around the state will be commissioned by December 2018.
Ndi Abia, I am glad to report to you that for 3 years running now, Abia State students have scored the highest number of Distinctions in the West African Senior School Certificate Examinations thus placing Abia 1st on the list of successful states whenever WAEC. We are on track to replicate that feat this year also.
For our Tertiary Institutions, considering that they are fee-earning institutions and therefore semi-autonomous, we have mandated the management of the various institutions to be creative and proactive in the application of the funds available to them to ensure qualitative education in decent environments while we are committed towards ensuring that their monthly subventions get to them as and when due.
The way forward is for all hands to be on deck even at these times of economic hardship. I am proud to state that Abia State University has fully keyed into this with the effect that the school has ran 3 years without strike and student enrolment has risen while her rating has moved from 90 to 30 among state-owned schools. We expect that the other tertiary institutions will emulate the transparency and sacrifice of the staff and management of ABSU.
TRADE AND COMMERCE
Beloved Abians, as you can all attest to, our Made InAba Campaign has opened new doors of opportunities for producers in Aba. The campaign has so far attracted over N3B in direct orders into Aba while ensuring the employment of about 1M new employees and apprentices in the over 300,000 markets around the state.
Just last week, the Vice President was again in Aba where he inspected the Ariaria Independent Power Project being financed by the Rural Electrification Agency of the Federal Government inside the AriariaInternational Market at Aba. The Power Project has for the last 6 months, provided uninterrupted power at the market to 2,000 shops on a pilot basis and due to the success of the pilot phase, they are now building a Power Station that will provide uninterrupted power to 34,000 shops in the market.
You are all aware of the steps we took to ensure that capacity is improved in our flagship shoemaking sector by sending 30 shoemakers from around the state to China to learn the art of automated shoemaking. We have ordered the equipments that the shoemakers usedin China and they are enroute. Before the end of the year, we will commence large-scale production at the Abia Shoe Factory at Aba.
Our administration has pursued with uncommon vigour, our determination to diversify the economy of Abia State through agriculture. It will be recalled that we launched large scale mushroom production and training program that is already yielding great resultsand attracting requests for support from other states. Many young Abians have been trained and are currently engaged in large-scale commercial mushroom production.
We are also actively supporting rice farmers in Abia State to further boost production and put more of our highly nutritious ‘Abia Rice’ in the market. Our target is to be self-sufficient in rice production by 2019 and target the export market afterwards. We have in the same vein engaged in a massive Palm planting campaign which has so far seen us planting over 4Million tenera specie palm seedlings across the state.
Our target is to plant 7.5m seedlings by the end of 2019and we are firmly on course. We have also provided mechanized farming equipment across the state through leasing at affordable rates.
Still on agriculture, our enhanced poultry and fish production has yielded great results with 100 poultry pens of 2000 birds each established across the State. We constructed a massive 165,000 birds capacity poultry processing plant at Umuosu Nsulu in Abia Central Senatorial Zone. Additional two units for Abia North and South are currently under construction.
Abia is gradually regaining its pride of place as an agricultural hub and we are poised to do even more, by ensuring that the Umuahia Agro-Industrial Cluster will soon take off. This industrial zone will handle cassava, oil palm, cocoa, Rice and cashew processing in the 1stphase with potential of creating over 1m jobs along the value chain.
ROADS AND INFRASTRUCRURE
This is one area we have devoted a huge chunk of our resources in the last 3 years and it gives me pleasure to observe the new lease of life in many communities and streets opened up across the state as a result of our road infrastructural revolution.
Permit me at this juncture to mention some of the infrastructural projects that have been completed and the ones that are ongoing.
Bridges: Okon Aku bridge at Ohafia local government was delivered and is currently in use. Nneato Bridge leading to Eziama, Umunneochi was also commissioned and put to use. Same as the Okobobridge along Ndi Oji/Ndi Okereke-Arochukwu roadwhich has drastically reduced travel time from Arochukwu to other parts of the state.
We have since the beginning of this administration, commenced work on 149 Roads out of which we have completed 69 with 80 at various stages of completion. A lot of these roads will be ready by December 2018.
LIST OF COMPLETED ROAD PROJECTS:
Kaduna Street, Umuwaya Road, Road II, Federal Lowcost Housing Estate, Niger Road, Uwalaka Street,Link Road to Factory Road, Ubakala Street, Warri By Club Road, Bende Road, Army Checkpoint, Bank Road, Abia Tower Round About, Road 8 in Low Cost Housing Estate, Abam Street and Awolowo road all in Umuahia in addition to our Operation Zero Pothole which has seen us resurface major streets in Umuahia.
In the Aba Metrolpolitan Area comprising Aba North, Aba South, Osisioma, Obingwa, Ugwunagbo,Isialangwa North and South, we have completed Kamalu Road, Ukaegbu Road, Umuola Road, Umuocham Road, Umule Road, Ommene Drive, Jubilee Road, Ehi Road, Hospital Road, Ube Street, Adazi Street, George’s Street, Echefu Road, ENUCRoad, St. Michael’s Road, Azikiwe Road, Pound Road, Owerrinta Road, Weeks Road, Park Road, School Road, East Road and Okwunauka Road. Others areCameroun Road, Queens Road, Ehere Road, Umuojima Road, Umuojima-Owerrinta Road with Spur from Owerrinta to Umuocheala, Bata-Railway Crossing to Brass Junction, Ibadan Road, AharanduRoad, Onyebuchi Road, Umuehleigbu Road, Asphalt Overlay of dualized Aba Owerri Road, Ovom Road, Mosque Street, Umuatako Road, Asa Umuka-Ugwunagbo Obohia Junction Road, Owerri Road off Okigwe Road, Chima Nwafor Road and Mbawsi-Umuala Road in Isialangwa North LGA.
In the Abia North Senatorial District, we have undertaken Erosion Control Works at 6 Spots along Uzuakoli-Akara-Ohafia Road and Bende LGA including Imenyi. We have also constructed UgwueziRoad in Abiriba which is the Phase 1 of the Abiribaring road. We have also completed the Eluama-Amibo-Acha Road in Isuikwuato LGA.
LIST OF AWARDED/ON – GOING ROAD PROJECTS
Ururuka Road, Old Express Road, 3 Roads at Government Station Layout Umuahia, Mbawsi Road,Agbama Housing Estate Ring Road, 3 Roads at theFederal Lowcost Housing Estate, Umuahia, Eke-Eziama-Obuzu-Ngodo Road, Abiriba Ring Road phase 2 with Spur to Amaukwu Ohafia, Amibo-OtamkpaIsuikwuato, Umuovom-Okwueze-House of Assembly Road, Ahia Nkwo-Ahiaba-Umueze-Udeagbala-PH Express Road with Spur to Umuimo Junction on Aba-Owerri Road, Ebenma/Egege Road, OsisiomaInterchange (Flyover), Umuaro-Umuokoro-Mgbokoanya-Umuokengwu-Omoba-Umuerie-Umuekia Road, Ariam-Usaka Ring Road, Umuagu-Ossa-Ukwuowo-Obikabia-Ohuru Ring Road, Umueze-Agbor-Ubani-Ibeku Modern Market Road, Ozuabam-Ndi Okereke-Arochukwu Road, Amuihe-Umuokehi-Umunkaru Afugiri Road, Umuana 1st Gate, Umuana-Ahiaeke Road and IBB GRA Dual Carriage Way), Bende-Idima Abam Road, Ebem Layout Road, Ohafia, Aba-Obikabia Road, Uratta-Umuekechi-Obekwe-Ogwe Road, Ukwa West LGA. Others are Umuobiakwa-Itukpa Crescent, Umuojima-OwerrintaRoad with Spur to Owerrinta-Umudigha Road, AbiribaJunction to Etitiama Nkporo and Umuobiakwa-Owo-Onicha-Ngwa Road.
Others are Amaoba-Nnono-Ndoro-Oboro Road with Spur to Ikputu, Amuda Isuochi Community Road, Lohum-Nkpa to Enugu Port Harcourt Expressway, Aba Road Umuahia, Ururuka Road (Phase II), Ariam UsakaRing Road, Emelogu Road, Ohazu-Ozumba Streets, Faulks Road and the Rehabilitation and Expansion of Ifeobara Pond with 6.5km underground drainage to waterside Aba.
We are also constructing Trinity College-AfaraTechnical Secondary School Road,
Umuocheala/Abayi-Ihie Road, Abayi-Ariaria-Umuojima-Umuakpara Road Spur to Umuidiagha, Mbawsi-Eziala-Osusu-Okpuala NgwaRoad, MCC Road, Udeagbala Road, Kent street with Spur to Aba Shopping Mall, Aba Area Command Access Road, Ibere Road by Ngwa Road, Rehabilitation of failed sections of No. Roads in Aba Municipality (Total Area 20kms), Reconstruction of 3 Roads within World Bank Housing Estate , Umuahia,Obinwa- Omauzor Abattoir Road, Agbozu Cocoa Plantation Road, Mbawsi Urban Roads, Umuaro-Nenu-Obot Akara Road, Internal Roads at Uratta Integrated Market, Osokwa-Aro Umuehie-Omoba Road, Isiahia-Umuode Road, Obehie(Foundation Hope)-Umukalu-Umuturu-Obaha-Obohia-Ohandu-UmuibeRoad, Amaise-Umuobiakwa-Ohanze Road, Owo-Ahiafor-Agburuike-Ohanze Road, Umuaro-Umuanunu-Ekwereazu-Nto Akwa Ibom Border Road,Ovom/Umuogele Junction-Ukwuenyi-Abala-Ika AkwaIbom Border Road, Eziala-Nvosi-EketaRoad,Mgbokonta-Amachi-Umunkpeyi Road, Umunkpeyi-Amaiyi-Okpokiri-Umuehim-Umuru Road, Amachi-Nenu Road.
We have also made appreciable progress in theConstruction/Rehabilitation of 10km length of Rural Roads in each of the 17 LGAs of Abia State, Port Harcourt Road, Construction and Dualization of Access Roads in New Government House Area, Umuahia, People’s Road, Akpu Road, Ngwa Road, Immaculate Avenue with spur to Kamalu road, Rehabilitation of 10 Roads within UmuahiaMetropolis, Agbazuere Road, Orpet Filling Station to Nnokwa Street, Nnokwa Street, Enugu-Ukwu Street, Ndoki Road, Health Centre Road, Emma Nwabuko to Upstairs Line Road, Mazi Akuma Okoro Road, Umuafai Junction to Kolping ( Upstairs Line) Road, and Mao Ohuabunwa Road all in Umuahia.
The rest are Ukome Road, Umuagu Ibeku-UmudaIsingwu erosion control with road from UmudaSignboard through Umungbokwo-Umuoka-Umuokoroto Mgbaja Ossah, St Paul’s Street, Osusu Road,Omuma Road, Uratta Road, Ovim-Acha Road andOgboro-Amibo-Acha road in Isuikwuato LGA.
Ndi Abia Ndi nwem, we have, through the work that we have done and will continue to do, providedrenewed hope to Abians. By policies we have introduced, Our primary school pupils in Abia State cannot wait for daybreak to rush off to school because they are guaranteed a full, nutritious meal in school everyday. Our elderly ones now look forward to a longer life because we are bringing healthcare delivery to their homes. Our traders, merchants and fabricators will be waking up each day in the knowledge that they are guaranteed electric power to innovate, invent and break new boundaries. With our Made In Aba Campaign, we have midwifed renewed hope for businesses in Abia State. Today, by our personal example, we have placed the Aba producer on the world map. Residents and owners of businesses on and around the roads we have built and are building are filled with joy. Note that apart from the flyover we are building at Osisioma, another Flyover is being planned for the waterside at Ogborhill, Aba.
In the same vein, residents of Umuahia have seen the quality of work we are doing at the Aba road. We have extended the project to the Expressway entrance into Umuahia at Ubakala. The project will subsequently be extended into Umuahia proper to link up with the dual carriage way we are planning from the beginning of Ikot Ekpene Road to Oboro in Ikwuano. Note also that work will soon commence on the dualisation of Ururuka Road from Isi Court at Old Umuahia to Nsuluin Isialangwa South LGA. The capital city of Umuahia is about to witness a deliberate expansion campaign from all its major entrances to give it a befitting look and improve businesses around the area. Very soon, by bthe Grace of God, a new Smart City will emerge around the fringes of Umuahia where residents will enjoy digitalized infrastructure including internet access and uninterrupted power.
My Good people of Abia State, I have no doubt that the work we have done thus far leaves hope that going forward, we will do even more.
I thank all those from different strata of society who have worked with us to actualize the works we have done so far. I continue to count on the support and prayers of all Abians and residents of Abia State. My solemn pledge to you today is that our tomorrow in Abia State will surely be better than our today.
Ya maara una lile mma na aha Jesus.