AN ADDRESS DELIVERED BY HIS EXCELLENCY, CHIEF T. A. ORJI (OCHENDO), GOVERNOR ABIA STATE,ON THE OCCASION OF THE 20TH ANNUAL NATIONAL CONVENTION OF THE NGWA NATIONAL ASSOCIATION (NNAUSA), HOLDING AT THE HILTON STAMFORD HOTEL, CONNECTICUT, USA, FROM FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 2 TO MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 5, 2011
DISTINGUISHED LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!
I bring you warm greetings from the Good people of Abia State, God’s Own State.
When I received your invitation to attend this Convention, I quickly made up my mind that I will attend, even without the consideration that other developing events might come up later, to contest for attentions. In fact, such un-conceived event, did come up.
A South-East Economic Summit is closing now at Enugu, just as your Convention is beginning.
That is why I am pleased to be here with you today, through my representative, despite all other pressures. First, I am here to appreciate you and your Organization, for the great efforts you have been making to keep our people in Diaspora, close to our roots, and interested in the politics and development of our State.
Secondly, I am here, so that we can share together, my personal experiences, as we face the numerous challenges of developing our State, both economically and politically. At the end, I hope that we can succeed in building more confidence on each other, as we contribute to solving the problems of Abia State, and in concert as stakeholders.
You are probably already aware of the last general election in Abia State, and the fact that my humble self, was massively returned by our people, for a second term in office as Governor of Abia State, in what was considered a very free and fair election.
It will further interest you to know that in the process, leading to the outcome of that election, there was a resolve by our people to ensure that the Abia Charter of Equity, is fully implemented in the politics of our State.
The implication of the Abia Charter of Equity, is that, come 2015, after the expiration of my second tenure in office, the mantle of leadership and Governorship of Abia State, will go to an individual of Ngwa/Ukwa extraction, and from Abia-South. This is a welcome integrative move by our people to ensure both equity and fairness in our State governance.
You are also, probably aware of other measures we have taken to enthrone full democracy in Abia State, especially in liberating ourselves and the State from the grip of the politics of god-fatherism, and its attendant usurpation of the common-wealth and patrimony of the State, by one family dynasty, achieved through a diabolical strangle-hold on our people.
The implication of this situation can only become obvious and appreciated by you, if you know that unlike in the past, when Abians can aspire to any political or appointive post, unless they have kow-towed, or taken fetish oaths of allegiance and loyalty to a single family; but, today, every Abian, without exception, including all of you here, can aspire to the highest appointive and political posts in Abia State, just by reason of your birth and proven abilities.
This liberation of Abia State came through my dogged efforts, and support of many notabe Abians. It is now your only open-sesame to being a bona-fide Abian and no one can deny you of it. There is no way we can quantify the price of such liberty. It is only those of us, who have been scourged by its denials and strangle-hold,that can fully testify on the sweetness of such liberty.
I therefore urge you to maintain your internal vigilance, so that we can together continue to move a freed Abia State, to higher glories.
In my first term in office as your Governor, it is an open secret, that I was a victim, caught-up under the stranglehold of a rapacious godfather, who gagged and constrained my abilities to serve Abia people according to my burning zeal and love. We were made to dissipate our energies and resources, -unbelievably, – in the combating of crime, – some of them sponsored, and especially its heinous side, of kidnapping for ransom money.
You will probably recall, how the economic activities of our State, and especially, Aba, Enyimba City, was shut-down and grounded, by the activities of kidnappers. This prevented many of you from making the usual Christmas trips, to be with your loved ones and families. Many businesses were also forced to either close, or relocate to safer areas to protect their lives and property.
My Government was only able to contain the incursion and destruction, through the massive military support of the Federal Government, and other law enforcement agencies. But our State economy and the confidence of both local and international investors took the heat, and was long in recovering.
I am glad to inform you here, that reasonable peace and security have now returned to Abia State, and our people are once more free to dream big dreams, and pursue their economic and leisure activities without fear or hindrance.
One of the major agenda of my new government is to ensure that the peace and security we have won for Abia State, is sustained. This is because, no meaningful economic and social progress, can reasonably occur, where violence, criminality and other forms of conflicts, have taken the centre stage of activities.
To ensure the sustainability of the security and safety of lives and property of our people, we encouraged and attracted the Federal Government of Nigeria to establish a Brigade of Military Barrack in Ohafia, Abia State.
We expect this present, and ready force of armed soldiers, to support the Police and other security agencies of the State, in combating crime and violence, and in providing the sustainable environment for economic growth and other business activities in Abia State.
Now, in a peaceful and secured Abia State, my Government is ready to work for the benefit of Abians. I see the massive votes of Abians which returned me to office as your Governor, as both an affirmation that Abians understood our past predicaments, and now, challenges our Government to depart from the ad-hoc approaches in which the affairs of Abia State, were handled in the past. My Administration is now fully braced up for these challenges.
When I took office in this second tenure as Governor of Abia State, my resolve was to depart from the ad-hoc nature of past governance, to lay a solid foundation for the socio-economic development of our State. That is why we have set for ourselves the following agenda:
- Creation of a sustainable environment for economic growth, investment and promotion of the ingenious entrepreneurship of our people
- Creation of jobs and capacity building for all our work-force
- Development of our Urban and Rural Infrastructures
- Maintenance and development of our Educational infrastructures and standards
- Encouragement of public-private partnership, in the development of our State, especially in the Agricultural sector and services
- Development of the Tourist potentials of Abia State
Within the first 100 days of my Administration in office, we have crafted and fine-tuned our vision, and moved on to equip our key officials, commissioners and Permanent Secretaries, with the requisite knowledge they require to drive a modern economy, and the vision of our Government. We have embarked on massive road infrastructural development of our cities, especially Aba and Umuahia capital city. These construction activities will be highly speeded up to other rural areas, as the rains recede.
We have also embarked on the renewal of our urban areas, to restore original plans, and enhance their aesthetic values. This is to make our cities, especially Aba and Umuahia, attractive and conducive for business and investment friendly.
Recently, we laid the foundation-stones for the second phase of the Abia State Secretariat, and an International Conference Centre. All these are directed towards improving the capacities of our State work-force, as well as preparing our State for knowledge tourism, and a more business investment friendly State.
We have also set up plans to build an Industrial Park in Aba City, to encourage the polling together, of resources to support the sagging entrepreneurship of Aba made goods, and through that restore their international fame and export values.
In our focus to restore the city of Aba to its former glories, we have not only provided many compact heavy duty refuse disposal vehicles, to constantly clean up the city, we have gone ahead to conclude arrangements with a foreign firm to build a Waste-to-Wealth Industry, that will serve Aba and Umuahia, by recycling our waste and converting
them to fertilizer and energy fuel for electricity generation and consumption in the localities.
Our State is providing support to the Geometric Power Incorporated to ensure the completion of their Private Independent Power Project. We are doing the same to the National Integrated Power Project of the Federal Government, located at Alaoji, which is expected to deliver up to, 504 megawatt power line.
When these projects are delivered in the projected six months dateline, Abia State will be ready to deliver 24 hours un-interrupted power supply to our people and to the many industrial concerns that we expect to come to the State. This also, augurs well for many small and medium enterprises in the State to grow, and for jobs to be created in Abia State.
Our State is also providing needed support to investors, some of who, are now at advanced stage of building a Cement Factory in Ohafia, and an Abattoir in Aba City. All these industries, and many more others that we have been pursuing, will provide job opportunities for our teeming and unemployed youths.
I will take this opportunity to inform you of the abundance of lucrative opportunities for both local and foreign investment in our State, in the Agricultural Sectors of our economy, especially in food processing, animal husbandry, fisheries and other services. We also encourage investment in the food and hospitality sector, especially in the building and management of 5 star hotels in Umuahia and Aba.
All these sectors, pose profitable challenges for foreign investors, and especially for some of our people in Diaspora. These areas are available for you to conquer and enrich yourself, while also contributing to the development of our State.
I will be the first to confess that, the sound economic development of Abia State has been ignored in the past, especially in government’s provision of the enabling infrastructures and vision to support local entrepreneurs. The result is that the dreams of our founding fathers, like Dr M.I.Okpara, who built the farm settlements, manufacturing industries and other support services, have not been strongly advanced in the right direction.
One reason is that, preceding Governments have been obsessed with the politics of power, self aggrandizement and wealth accumulation, often to the detriment of laying the economic foundation for the public good. This is a very sad commentary in the political economy of our State.
My new Administration has sworn to reverse this trend. We have come to see Government and governance, as a relay race, and a block-building process, where our success is assured, if only we first, take the necessary pain, laying a sound foundation, for a sustainable race to our economic goals. If our race takes off on a sound footing, then the block-building process, is sure to yield desirable dividends, even after our Administrations have done their parts, and served their tenures. Our goals, will be incrementally achieved, and fully, over time.
Whatever our State of Abia, becomes, may be dependent on our sound visioning and the actions of our Government, but Governments alone do not pocess the magic wand. We must rely also on the support, participation, and even, on well meant criticism of our people. That is why I encourage those of you with genuine and implementable business plans and opportunities, to share them with us for adoption and partnership, where possible.
We should be constantly reminded that we are all stake-holders in the Abia State Project. I therefore call on you for your full participation, support and patience in the days ahead. With you behind me, with your expertise at my disposal, and your willingness to walk your talks, I promise you that I will fearlessly work to reshape our economies and internalize our budding democracy in Abia State.
I will also, devote my entire energy, to ensure the peace, security and prosperity of our people, so that our Abia State, will be great again.
I cannot end this address without reminding you of the need to be good citizens and ambassadors of Abia State in your host State and Country. But while living up the American dreams, always remember that your home country, Nigeria and our State of Abia, needs your equal attention.
There is too much work and services to be rendered to the home front, and your accomplished lives here, can only become more meaningful, through the lives you touch back home. There is no better way to live and to be remembered, than for it to be said of you that ‘You never forgot your root and your people, even though in America’.
I pray that the Good Lord continue to bless you and keep your Union intact and progressive.
May God also bless Abia State and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
And May God bless America.