I have just read what one Churchill Okonkwo wrote about a recorded phone call where an aide of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu was purported to be threatening another man on the phone. The issue, expectedly, has been widely discussed and, sadly, few well known anti-Ikpeazu soldiers have jumped on the bandwagon to use that opportunity to write their usual unsavoury things about the Abia State governor.
The target of those, who have been unnecessarily bashing the governor was to pitch him against the public, particularly the media. However, in their short-sightedness and haste to condemn, they forgot to do a background check to ascertain if Governor Ikpeazu has at any time in the last five years he has been governor, threatened, directly or indirectly, any media personnel even though he is arguably the most unfairly criticised and scurrilously attacked governor in the South-East today.
However, that has not stopped him from interacting with Abians openly, at least, once every month, in uncensored, no holds barred live phone-in programmes using the same media he is accused of threatening. What people like Churchill, who want to sit in judgement over those they know little or nothing about, end up doing is repeating the fatal mistake of Pontius Pilate where the good man was wrongly judged and condemned based on the cacophonous belligerence of a supposed majority whose acrimonious shouts were mistaken for truth, justice and fairness.
If anything, Governor Ikpeazu is one of the few governors in the federation who have, on more than one occasion, personally taken journalists round his projects for their verification rather than engage them in war of words as some are wont to do. Neither the opposition nor the press, nor political commentators nor anybody for that matter has ever been harassed either subtly or otherwise by the government of Abia State or any of its officials based on their opinions of government. What happened in the recorded phone call in question this time around was more of a conversation between brothers as both the one purported to have threatened and the one said to have been threatened are linked and had their personal issues which sadly boiled over. Churchill does not know any of the issue around the leaked conversation and hence unfit to sit in judgement over any of the parties involved.
Because of the sensitive nature of the conversation and the weighty allegations that have trailed it, the state government is not taking the issue lying low even though it was between brothers and is investigating it with a view to making its findings known. Although the voice threatening was said to be that of one person, the images attached to it were those of more than one official of government giving rise to the need for it to be properly diagnosed for the records and action. The state government, through the Honourable Commissioner for Information, John Kalu, has reassured journalists that no media person will be harassed in the state under the watch of Governor Ikpeazu.
More bewildering of all the accusations from Churchill against the Abia State helmsman is the one hinged on corruption. Ikpeazu might be falsely accused of anything by anybody but adding corruption in the mix is wild, unrealistic, unfounded and baseless. It is not only puerile, it is also jejune and facile. Not even a section of the opposition in Abia as toxic and caustic as they might be has ever accused the governor of corruption because they know that he is a man of austere lifestyle and does not condone corruption by whomsoever.
The other bewildering accusation against the governor is the now overused cliché, “He has done nothing” when indeed ordinary Abians who are on the ground see and use all those which the governor has done. So, they are always shocked to hear when people especially those living outside the state keep saying that. Was this not why the people still voted en masse for Ikpeazu at the last governorship election despite the overwhelming scathing criticisms based on malicious propaganda, resentful half-truths and outright falsehood thrown in his path?
True, Abia is still work in progress and even the governor has several times said we are not yet where we want to be but fact is we have made progress and more blocks have since been laid on the achievements met on the ground prior to 2015. From education, MSMEs, infrastructure, agriculture, security to health etc, Ikpeazu’s verifiable marks of progress are visible for everyone to see.
The reason we take security matters for granted in Abia State is because the governor has not only been on top of security issues in the state, he has personally taken the lead in ensuring that what afflicts other states in terms of insecurity does not come near Abia as he takes proactive measures in securing the lives and property of the people. While other states are battling with a plethora of major violent crimes like banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery, among others, Abia has been enjoying peace and tranquillity to the extent that insecurity is not an issue in the state’s political discourse. Given a choice, many Nigerians living in some other parts of the country would prefer to live and settle in Abia for its tranquillity.
There are also some other states whose peace have been shattered by political tension between their governors and other political leaders. But in Abia, despite the excesses of some of our opposition figures, the governor has maintained an equanimity that guarantees a serene atmosphere thereby creating an enabling environment for the people to thrive in all their endeavours.
In education, it is no longer news that Abia has maintained first position in the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) for five unbroken years owing to the governor’s deliberate policies and actions anchored on the youth and children of the state which has also seen school enrolment rate rise from 115,396 to an unprecedented 658,472 as at 2018. Abia has remained the only state where pupils in primary school are fed from Primary 1 – 6: while the federal government feeds pupils from Primary 1 – 3. Abia State Government under Ikpeazu has taken the school feeding programme a notch higher by feeding her pupils from Primary 4 – 6; this is in addition to the construction of 340 new classroom blocks, 19 renovated ones and 4 new model schools. The regular training and retraining of teachers in the state even by foreign consultants has also ensured that the teachers are up to date with latest global teaching skills.
The governor’s commitment to the youth in particular and Abians in general is also evidenced in his aggressive promotion and support to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the state for which he has won many awards. Today, “Made in Aba” is no longer just a slogan but a brand, a global brand that has empowered Abia entrepreneurs and made them as competitive as their counterparts in Asia, Europe and the Americas.
In the area of infrastructure, the delivery of 76 verifiable road projects with over 90 others under construction and at different stages of completion in four years is no mean feat. Although the state has infrastructural deficit to still fill just like every other, she is surely meeting up with the challenges especially with Governor Ikpeazu’s renewed commitment and speed in his second term.
Contrary to what the Churchills of this world want people to believe, whether they say Ikpeazu is beautiful or not, the good thing nature has done is to give everyone their own pair of eyes to see things for themselves and conclude without anyone deploying their eyes as those of meddlesome interlopers to see for others. The fact that Abians still chose Ikpeazu over others in a landslide victory at the last election confirms that indeed, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. No matter what Churchill and his likes say, Ikpeazu is their chosen beautiful bride!