Later this year when Abia State turns 25 in August 27, stakeholders in retrospect will reach the conclusion that Abia has moved from a state of disorder to one of structured orderliness, and significant number will agree that this feat was bolstered by the developmental strides of the administration of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, which clocked a year on May 29.
Within this exciting period of Governor Ikpeazu’s leadership, the Government in partnership with the State House of Assembly has passed laws to setup key boards and agencies to enhance good governance in some sectors such as transport, education, urban development, etc. Also through Executive power, committees were setup for intervention in critical sectors.
Take for instance, to curb lawlessness and ensure the restoration of sanity on the roads, Government created the Transport and Indiscipline Management Agency of Abia State (TIMAAS) to enforce traffic laws and penalise defaulters. The agency is empowered by law to also regulate parking in the State and check unlawful activities of vehicle owners.
Before the coming of the administration of Governor Ikpeazu the skyline of Abia State and public fences were being defaced by all manner of advert billboards and posters. Now the State has what is called Abia Signage and Advertising Agency (ABSAA), created to regulate indiscriminate mounting of signboards and other signage in the State for the purpose of restoring sanity.
In this era of decline in the monthly federal allocation to States, necessitated by poor returns in oil revenue, the importance of the passage of the Abia State Solid Minerals Law No. 3 of 2016 cannot be overstated, the aim of which is to change the operations and improve the revenue accruable to the State Government from this sector. And to show Government’s seriousness, the Governor recently approved the constitution of the Abia State Mineral Resources and Environmental Management Committee (MIREMCO) to assist the State in getting maximum value from the sector.
News of Governor Ikpeazu’s committed engagement in turning around the fortunes of the city of Aba may have travelled across the country and remains exhilarating but not many people know of the role played by the creation of the Aba Urban Renewal Agency with the responsibility of restoring sanity to Aba and ensure that the distortion of the city-scape is halted.
Illegally constructed buildings are being restored back to their original purposes, while make-shift and unauthorised markets are being dismantled and houses built on drainages pulled down to ensure longevity of infrastructure and general order in the city of Aba. Prior to this time there were talks of Aba being the “dirtiest city in Nigeria”, but not anymore.
One of the reasons why Aba was categorised “dirty” was due to the conditions of markets located in the city. To address this, Government set up the Abia State Market Development Committee for the purpose of “redesigning, remodelling and reconstruction” of major markets, such as Government intends to do with the Ariaria International Market. The committee’s mandate also falls under the development of new markets in the State.
Right from his campaign days as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party during the 2015 governorship election in Abia State, Governor Ikpeazu has been a strong advocate for Made in Abia products and has travelled within and outside Nigeria in search of potential investors willing to stake their money, especially in the profitable business climate that is Aba.
The Abia State Marketing and Quality Assurance Board was set up and is saddled with the task of certifying that products manufactured in the State is of high quality, and also serving as a marketing board that will identify ready markets for Abia products while working out modalities to purchase produce from farmers in Abia State for export and larger markets.
Serious about encouraging investors to take a more critical look at investing in the State as a whole, the Abia State Investment Promotion Agency, a One Stop Investment Centre (OSIC) was set up to serve as the first port of call to any company, group or individual desirous of investing in Abia. The agency is solely responsible for the coordination of government equity in private-driven companies and negotiates on behalf of the State the terms of all Public Private Partnerships between the Government and private investors.
In the area of managing government properties for optimum use, the Abia State Utilities Maintenance Agency was created to manage public utilities, especially the maintenance of streetlights and sundry public utilities.
In all of these initiatives by the Governor Ikpeazu administration, two stands out, and they are the Due Process Office and Policy Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation Unit (PIME). The Due Process Office is headed by a Special Adviser and with the role to ensure that all government procurements go through proper vetting channels. So far over 60 “Certificates of No Objection” have been issued for projects in the State in the course of which over one billion naira was saved for the Government in amounts over-invoiced or wrongly scoped by prospective vendors and service providers.
For the PIME which is also headed by a Special Adviser, their duty is to monitor the rate of implementation of the various policies of Government and advises on necessary adjustments that need to be made. The purpose of this is for a more efficient and effective Government.
The above expatiated agencies, boards and committees are but some of the structured initiatives that have been embarked upon by the Government of Governor Ikpeazu to reposition governance in Abia State. If this could be done within a year and under difficult economic times, the remainder of his first tenure as Governor promises to be a pleasant journey.
• Maduekwe is the Special Assistant on Media to Governor Ikpeazu