I Want Abia to Be Like Lagos State-IKPEAZU
The governor of Abia State, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu has said that he is not comfortable with the state of economy of the state and wishes that Abia could be like Lagos to enable him move the state to the promise land.
Ikpeazu who was speaking at the international conference centre in Umuahia the state capital gave Lagos State kudos for her strong economic prowess through Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and said he want Abia to copy such.
He decried the low state of IGR in Abia and expressed sadness that a state like Abia with four cities to her name is still not able to carter for herself which makes the state to depend solely on federal allocations every month.
“I am not happy that every month, I have to go to National Economic Meeting to see how much is coming to Abia and if that money delays or refuses to come, we will be in big trouble.
“I will like to be like Lagos State that is making N27B every month on IGR alone from taxes paid by our children, our brothers and sisters because seventy percent of businesses in Lagos are owned by our people.
“So we developed Lagos, and build companies and contribute massively to the payment of N27b monthly and yet the IGR of Abia State is hardly beyond N500m and this is a state with two major cities of Aba and Umuahia and two other cities like Ohafia and Mbawsi beckoning for attentions and development. Yet, there is no commensurate IGR increase to pursue the needs and wants of our people.
Acknowledging the economic advantage given to Abia by her geographical location Ikpeazu said, “Abia is at the confluence of the entire south east and south south states. What it means is that if we light up our candles and it is shinning well, it is possible that the impact of our economy to spread to these other states around us.
“If we create a strong economic magnet, we can also bring people to do business here. My major aim is to bring people to do business here and go freely and if that is achieved, I know my people can fend for themselves.”
Ikpeazu described the commercial city of Aba as the commercial hub of the south east, hence deserves special attention in terms of road network as the economic destiny of the state lies in the commercial city.
“Most people believe that the emphasis should not be in Aba. In fact, some are saying that the emphasis shouldn’t be anywhere, but I say to them that, the only way we can grow as a state is to grow our IGR. That is why we must concentrate on Aba, because Aba is the business hub of the entire South Eastern Nigeria is Aba.
“That is why we cannot ignore Aba. I know that if we get Aba right, Aba can give us the needed IGR to develop Umuahia, Ohafia and probably develop Mbawsi also.”
Linking education to the vision of industrializing the state, Ikpeazu revealed that in Abia, education is not only a pillar, but also an enabler. He stated that the state have mapped out an old land bank carved out during Old East Central State around Owerrinta and designate as education hub.
The governor said that the state is using the Naval Base their as anchor for security to encourage people to come to Abia and build good schools because education is now a serious business and enterprise.
“We want people to key in and make education as a pillar here by building schools in Abia. I know schools that are located around Lekki area of Lagos where students pay N1.4 million every term and we send our children to those schools and they in return pay taxes to Lagos State government.
“As an enabler, if we are serious about promoting small and medium scale enterprises, then we will begin to automate the processes of garment making and shoe making. And if we want to automate those processes, we must be able to create the middle cadre manpower that is capable of driving the automation of shoe making.”
He enjoined everyone to support skill education as it is the only way to make the state able and ready to handle further new innovations that are coming on the area of industrialization.
“We must engage in serious skill education and it has already started and we are now graduating students from our skill centres. We must lay emphasis on technical education. We want to drive skill acquisition in a way that it will make same in a practical sense. Those who graduate from schools like Abia Poly should be able to find work in various factories that will spring up in Aba very soon.
“Three technical schools in the state will be involved in this our technical education move. We have retrained our teachers for that reason. I look forward to a day when people will say let me go to Abia to establish my business because they have skilled people. Let us become a repository for skilled knowledge and manpower to drive all forms of industrialization for this country and Africa at large.”
FROM THE TOWER OF TRUTH