Manifesto Of Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu: Making Abia The Premier Business Destination In Nigeria, And West Afica

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PROFILE SUMMARY
Okezie Victor Ikpeazu, Ph.D., a renowned biochemist, teacher and a proven public servant, was born on October 18, 1964, to the family of late Pa Ishmael and Deaconess Bessie Ikpeazu of Umuebere in Umuobiakwa village, Isialaukwu Mbato Autonomous Community in Obingwa Local Government Area of Abia State, Nigeria.
 
Dr. Ikpeazu attended Amaise Central Primary School, Umuobiakwa. In 1973, while in primary five, he gained admission into Eziama High School, Aba and later moved to Ihie High School, Isiala Ngwa, where he took his School Certificate Examination in 1979. In 1980, at the age of 16, he gained admission into the University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID) to study Clinical Biochemistry and graduated with a B.Sc. (Hons.) Second Class Upper Division in August, 1984.
 
 From August 1984 to August 1985, Dr. Ikpeazu served as a clinical biochemist in the medical laboratory of the Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST) Port Harcourt for his national youth service. He returned to the University of Maiduguri for aM.Sc. degree in Biochemical Toxicology and graduated in 1990. In 1994, at the age of 30, he obtained a doctorate degree, Ph.D., in Biochemical Pharmacology from the University of Calabar.
 
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CAREER/PUBLIC SERVICE
Dr. Ikpeazu served as a Graduate-Assistant in the Department of Science Laboratory Technology, University of Maiduguri, from 1986 to 1987 while studying for his M.Sc. degree. He also taught at the Calabar Polytechnic from 1990 to 1992 during his Ph.D.programme.
 
Between 1994 and 1996, he served as Administrative Manager with Cash Bond Investments and Credits Ltd, Lagos. In 1998, Dr. Ikpeazu joined the services of Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) as Lecturer 1 in the Department of Applied Biochemistry, Faculty of Applied Natural Sciences, and rose to Head of Department by 2001. He was also an Adjunct Senior Lecturer, Department of Biochemistry, Ebonyi State University College of Basic Medical Sciences between 2000 and 2002. Between 2003 and 2004, he was a Masters' Degree External Examiner, to the Department of Biochemistry, University of Nigeria.
 
 In 2002, Dr. Ikpeazu served as the Transition Committee (TC) Chairman for Obingwa Local Government Area. This marked his entry into politics. He also served as Special Adviser to the Governor of Abia State. He was thereafter appointed General Manager, Abia State Passengers Integrated Manifest and Safety Scheme (ASPIMSS) from 2007 to 2009. During his tenure in this position, he turned around the fortunes of ASPIMSS, and made it a revenue yielding agency of government. 
 
In 2010, he was appointed Chairman, Governing Council of Abia State College of Health Technology, Aba. During his tenure, he facilitated the accreditation of three critical courses in the institution by the NBTE. In 2011, he was reappointed General Manager, Abia State Passengers Integrated Manifest and Safety Scheme (ASPIMSS), a position he held till 2013.
 
In June 2013, he was appointed the first Deputy General Manager, Abia State Environmental Protection Agency (ASEPA) Aba and Environs; an assignment he creditably discharged to the admiration of not only the Aba populace, but also the entire Abia State and beyond, interpreting the vision of Chief T.A Orji, as it relates to environmental protection and waste management.
 
MY MISSION
“To elevate the quality of life of ‘Abians’”
 
MY VISION
“To make Abia State the premier destination in Nigeria, West and Central Africa; for investors, shoppers, workers and tourists’’.
 
Thanks to the efforts of the present administration, Abia State has begun its journey for greatness. The security problems of the past have been sustainably addressed, and commendable progress has been made in the areas of providing basic amenities required to make the lives of Abians safe, comfortable and productive.
As a natural progression, it is critical that over the next 5 to 10 years, we make the ‘leap’ to realize the potential in Abia State and enable it take its natural place as a key growth pillar for Nigeria in particular, and the entire West African sub region in general.
 
To achieve this lofty goal, Our government shall leverage our comparative strengths in the following areas:
 
 Our People- The vibrant people of Abia State with their enterprising spirit,and diligence in labor will remain our core strength and pride. We shall channel this resource by putting in place a competent leadership team of skilled and proven executors which will complement the energy of our population. We will also transform the businesses of our very enterprising and skilled populace to achieve scale and world class appeal. That way ‘made  in Aba’ will become something to be proud of and not something shoddy; Aba made products in shoe/ leather, garments and other such sectors will be bought in global retail chains and markets. We will have wealthy Abians and residents out of these historical areas of strength. Young men and women will finish school and come to our industrial centres to make a good living knowing they will get their first car in record time.
 
 Our Unique God-given Geographical location and attendant assets- The State is strategically located with access to at least 7 other states across the south-East and South-south. This natural accessibility makes our State a choice location for establishing business and accessing other surrounding markets in Nigeria and abroad. Indeed this probably explains why leading corporations established manufacturing concerns in Aba in the past. You may remember names such as Bata, Nigerian breweries, Colgate Palmolive etc.. Best of breed logistics and warehousing facilities including modern shopping facilities can easily become key attraction for businesses and business men from all over the world.
 
 Infrastructur e – Abia State is the host of 2 important power generation plants (Geometric and NIPP, Alaoji). This availability of power for industry will form a major attraction to businesses in search of locations of comparative advantage. In addition to this, the railway infrastructure traversing our State is currently undergoing rehabilitation which will make them an added competitive edge. This is because an excellent low cost transportation system presents an advantage for businesses to transact and evacuate cheaply. So, our location advantages are further enhanced by this asset which we will leverage to transform our cities into a logistics hub in Nigeria and neighboring African countries. Imo River also presents another unique advantage for agriculture and logistics
 
 Governance – Instituting a government structure that is private-sector friendly, accountable and transparent, will go a long way in attracting both institutional and private investors, as well as increasing the Ease of doing business in the State. In line with this, we shall establish a one-stop investment support office to streamline the process of investing in Abia State for external investors.
 
 Safety – Security of lives and property is critical for economic and social development. Building on the achievements of the current administration in ensuring peace and security across the state, we will further empower the security agencies to ensure the atmosphere of peace and security is sustained all across the state
 
ECONOMIC TANSFORMATION:
In appreciation that human wants are innumerable and insatiable, our efforts towards the transformation of Abia State will focus on – areas or sectors of the society, which will make for optimal impact given the resources at our disposal. These sectors fall into 2 main classes, key and facilitating sectors.
 
While the Key sectors shall be expected to directly deliver economic growth, gainful jobs, income etc. to the state, the facilitating sectors are those whose efficient function are fundamental for the growth of the key (and indeed all other) sectors of the economy. In view of this, the State will actively canvass for investment inflows into the Key sectors by building infrastructure, disseminating information and generally supporting the private sector.On the other hand, the State will invest actively and directly in the facilitators in partnership with the private sector.
 
In line with this, We have identified the following as Key Sectors for the State Government:
 
 AGRICULTURE
 We will take advantage of the State’s natural advantages and focus on major cash and food crops, leveraging on the Federal Government’s existing programs covering cocoa, palm oil, cassava and grain/ rice.
 
 Partner with local and international agricultural research institutions (Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria -Ibadan, National Root Crops Research Institute – Umudike, National Cereals Research Institute amongst others) to provide advanced seedlings and extension services to small holder farmers.
 
 Creation of large agro-allied zones for commercial and mechanized farming located within the State’s crop production areas, supported by irrigation, storage and transport infrastructure
 
 Facilitate increased investment in the agriculture sector through integrated farming and extending through the value chain, i.e. production, processing and storage.
 
 Establishment of marketing boards to improve access to market to minimize economic shocks for small holder farmers and indeed all farmers within the state
 
 Enhance specialized/ vocational education to produce skilled workers for this industry.
 
 INDUSTRY
 As a major thrust for our Abia renewal and transformation, we will establish and enforce standards to enable local firms and producers compete globally
 We will create industrial parks as centers of excellence to further enhance our historical strengths in garment and leatherworks.
 
 Encourage the achievement of scale by indigenous SMEs in the garment and leather works space, by offering added capacity building, access to finance, access to markets, affordable power etc.
 
 Actively cultivate and facilitate investors with track record of success in diverse industries to establish industrial operations in our state. This will target among others, the textile industry to complement the garment clusters in Aba and create a vibrant garments industry.
 
 COMMERCE
 Promoting our heritage as a commercial hub, we will build-out the existing 14 major markets in Abia to bring them up to modern standards
 Provide capacity building training and resources to the SME’s across the state to facilitate their growth and development
 
 OIL & GAS
 Abia State with its close proximity to the Niger Delta, as well as the Imo and Abia rivers has the capacity to develop into a major operational and logistics base for oil &gas firms operating within the area, and we shall tirelessly explore and promote the achievement of this nexus.
 Abia State will explore the presence of, and potential for, crude oil or gas exploration and production
 
 EDUCATION
Our focus on education will be extensive as we believe that the strength of Abia lies in her people. As such, the transformation of the education sector in Abia will involve both the public and private institutions.
 
We will develop an all-inclusive master plan to drive development and progress within thesector.
This master plan will incorporate restructuring the education curricula for primary, secondary and state-owned tertiary institutions to ensure our children and youths are empowered with sound knowledge and technical skills required to survive and add value in the ever-evolving labour market.
 
 We will promote the emergence of Abia as an education hub/destination by attracting and diligently fast-tracking the establishment of inte rnationally recognized education providers in the state; taking advantage of the secure environment and social infrastructure we will provide
 
 Having recognized the key role of education in our reform and repositioning of Abia State, we will drive incisive reform of the public education system
 
 The reformed education system in Abia State will also boost our IGR base, and contribute to funding our other social and economic development programmes
 
 FORMAL EDUCATION:
 Our transformation of the formal education system will include the improvement of the quality and standards in all state-owned institutions.
 Access all available intervention funds at the Federal level, as well as grants, to fund our desired elevation and improvement in our education system in the state.
 In addition, we will facilitate improvement in our educational infrastructure through PPP
 We will partner, activate and drive partnerships with foreign institutions to provide management and restructuring of our institutions
 
 VOCATIONAL EDUCATION:
 Our government will resuscitate all the existing program-specific vocational programs and institutions across the state. In areas where we identify gaps, we will establish new vocational training centers to address those gaps. These will be emphasized to support our key economic sectors to ensure relevance and sustainability.
 
 Facilitate the roll out of massive ICT infrastructure to improve the adoption of e-commerce and internet usage.
 
 Introduction of basic ICT into all programs at all levels & curricula
 
 Encourage advanced ICT skills training and development for both teachers and students
 
 Create a database of unemployed or under-employed youth to facilitate their gainful employment in due course.
 
Similarly, we have identified the following as Facilitator-Sectors for the State Government:
 
 SECURITY: We shall enhance the security of Abia State by achieving the following key targets:
 Keying into the FG’s Identity Management Scheme to generate identity documents for residents of Abia State. This will provide us with the data for our planning as well as give all Abia people a common identification card to facilitate their business transactions with the state and each other.
 Empower the security agencies with funds to improve on equipment and intelligence gathering through the use of information tools and a structured vigilante network.
 Create ‘secure oasis’ as hubs for leisure or business across the state with linkages to secure transport corridors for efficiency.
 
 JUDICIARY
Following through with our security agenda for the state, we will develop and strengthen our State judicial system to ensure the timely delivery of justice in matters affecting our people. In this regard, the areas we will address include:
Introduction of a fully automated judicial system leveraging a Centralized Information Management system, an automated Workflow Court Calendar, Case File view etc. In addition to this, we shall ensure the improvement of the remuneration and welfare packages of our judicial workers to improve morale and drive efficiency.
 
 INFRASTRUCTURE AND PUBLIC UTILITIES: to enhance the infrastructure available around the State, we shall:
 
 Improve the transport infrastructure to ease movement of goods and people, including the institution of urban taxi schemes and other mass transit arrangements.
 
 Fast-track the provisioning of potable water to our people in the different parts of the state.
 
 Develop a master plan for the Power sector to drive the efficient use of power and the servicing of rural areas from the surplus power from urban areas where possible.
 
 Explore provision of basic electricity to the parts of the state not currently on the power grid using solar, gas and other solutions
 
 Explore the use of a PPP (Public-Private-Partnership) model to fund the infrastructure development across the state, in such a way as not to unduly burden our people
 
 Explore the viability of an Abia airport to complement our logistics network.
 
 ACCESS/EASE-OF-DOING-BUSINESS:
 Our government will aggressively drive a re-orientation of our civil and public service to be more efficient and friendly to all stakeholders
 
 We will foster an improved ease of doing business; through the establishment of One-Stop shops/Contact centers to remove unwieldy bureaucracy and bottlenecks for investors
 
 To facilitate investment and increased business activities across the state, our government shall ensure the availability of reliable data for all interested investors including the establishment of an e-govt platform leveraging the efforts of the FG in this area.
 
 HEALTHCARE:
 To provide effective and efficient healthcare services to all our people, in every part of the state, we will strengthen the 710 government-owned healthcare centers by improving their infrastructure, funding and improving the quality of healthcare professionals deployed in them
 
 We will partner with world-class healthcare providers to train our personnel and provide complimentary infrastructure
 
 HOUSING:
 We will promote increased development of affordable housing through the provision of necessary infrastructure and PPP
 
 Our government will optimize the Land and Title Registration process to encourage increased investment in the sector.
 
 We will attract private and corporate home developers to build in Abia State, and ultimately mastermind a ‘reverse brain drain’ which will see a majority of Ibo families moving their primary abode back to Abia State from Lagos and Abuja.
 
 ENVIRONMENT:
To preserve the environment, we shall undertake the following activities:
 Extensive drainage rehabilitation and channelization of flood prone areas within the Aba and Umuahia metropolis
 
 Construction of storm water management and erosion control sites
 
 Development and beautification of numerous leisure parks across the State
 
 Encourage and promote horticulture across our cities
 
 Boost the quality of waste management and traffic management services to improve quality of life and boost IGR generation.
 
The combination of these facilitators and key sectors focus will ultimately lead to numerous job opportunities for our very virile and enterprising youths.
 
To sign-post our commitment to the Transformation of Abia State, we shall ensure the delivery of the following -‘low hanging fruits’ and (medium to long term) ‘lighthouse’ projects across Abia StateLow hanging fruits – High priority projects to be addressed in the short term (1st 100 days to end of year2)
 
 Reconstruction of two key and currently bad roads in Aba metropolis
 
 Launching of a zero tolerance to pot holes campaign within the state
 
 Marking of roads and installation of other road furniture such as street signs etc
 
 Development and approval of all key Reform strategies and urban planning for Aba (if none available)
 
 Urban streetlight projects in Umuahia and Aba (with off-grid power support if necessary)
 
 Beautification projects including landscaping etc.
 
 Initiation of a rural areas empowerment initiative (bundling provision of amenities, microfinance, social support etc.)
 
 Light House Projects – Landmark projects to be initiated and completed in each of the senatorial zones of the state to foster a sense of belonging and enhance government credibility in the eyes of the masses.
 
 Umuahia Airport Project and affiliated roadways to Umuahia and Aba
 
 Development of 4-5 star Hotel In Umuahia in partnership with the private sector
 
 Ultra modern sports resort and golf course in Arochukwu, Ohafia, Abriba axes
 
 Re-planning and transformation of Aba into a modern industrial/commercial hub
 
With your support and understanding of the sometimes difficult decisions needed to be made towards actualizing our vision for Abia State, We firmly believe that during our tenor,Abia State will emerge and establish itself as:
 
 One of the three leading state economies in Nigeria, characterized by vibrant commercial and industrial sectors producing goods and products that meet global standards, serving both the West and Central Africa including major retail chains across the globe
 
 A major hub for delivering Nigerian content services and products to the oil & gas industry.
 
 Home to Nigeria’s largest private school hub, complemented by a qualitative public education system; becoming the premier choice destination for students from all across Nigeria and West Africa
 
 A secure location with the lowest crime rate in Nigeria grounded on a good family value system and with the support of a diligent and well equipped police force and security network
 
 World-class infrastructure funded by a combination of Government investment and Public-Private-Partnerships which will be followed through by a responsive maintenance culture.
 
 No 1 location for doing business in Nigeria supported by technology tools to enable streamlined government-to-business interaction and a business friendly government machinery
 
 Nigeria’s prime hub for medical tourism, serving both the Nigeria and West African markets; providing jobs for our people and generating revenue for government. Our own home grown alternative to India!
 
 The Real Estate haven of the south-east, “a home to every Ibo citizen”; reversing the decades long emigration of our Ibo talent and resources to other parts of Nigeria, a veritable ‘reverse brain drain’.
 
 A home to a proud, aspiring and hard working people. Our complete economic blue print contains specific numeric and other measures to show when we have achieved the above vision and its attendant targets.
 
Long Live Abia state!!!
 
Okezie Victor Ikpeazu PhD
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) 
Governorship candidate 
Abia State 
 
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