The Peoples Democratic Party governorship candidate for Abia State, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, said that he has not signed a secret pact with Governor Theodore Orji, with a promise to pay him money monthly if he eventually becomes governor of the state.
Speaking with select editors in Lagos, Ikpeazu said the only pact he has is with the common people of Abia State to give them hope, while ensuring that the state is properly repositioned to compete with others.
He challenged Nigerians to ask those throwing money around in millions where they got such monies from.
He said: “I have not signed anything (pact) and nobody has made that proposal to me and nobody will do it because I am a person of modest means and a lot of things do not appeal to me.
“You know from recent history that such things don’t work anywhere. You can’t show one example of somebody that has been tied and put in the pocket and he is a governor…. Nobody is contemplating such.”
Speaking on his emergence as the flag bearer of the PDP in the forthcoming April 11 gubernatorial election, the lecturer turned politician, who acknowledged the role played by Governor Orji, posited that it is the handiwork of God and the good people of Abia State.
He said: “Governor Theodore Orji played a role in my nomination as PDP flag bearer and he didn’t ask money from me to do that.
“If he wanted money, I wouldn’t have been an option because I don’t have money to offer anybody.
“One of the candidates running the election with me, who was an aspirant in PDP, offered N3 billion to Governor Orji, but the governor said no and said that equity and justice must be done. The same candidate paid another huge amount somewhere just to get the PDP ticket. When he realized his money couldn’t buy him the PDP ticket, he ran to another party, where his money was able to buy him a ticket. The records are there to show.
“It is not about money. This is about what God wants to do. For the first time in the history of our state, an ordinary lecturer, a common man like me, from Ngwa, is emerging to become governor..
Ikpeazu added that it was members of the Aba Landlords Association that recommended him to governor and the PDP in the state when he was serving as the Deputy General Manager of the Abia State Environmental Protection Agency in charge of Aba.
He said: “I want to put it on record that while I was serving as Deputy General Manager of ASEPA in charge of Aba, the Aba Landlords Association who saw the leadership potential in me recommended me to the PDP hierarchy in Abia State. At one of their meetings with the state governor, they said to him, this man could become governor. They were so excited about my determination to wrought a change in that sector of the gamut of Aba challenge. I didn’t know them and didn’t give them them a dime. In fact, it was after their meeting that I was told what they told the governor.”
Speaking on the insinuations in some quarters that the incumbent governor’s son, Engr. Chinedum Orji, who is seeking to represent Umuahia Central Constituency in the state House of Assembly and nursing an ambition to become speaker, may be used by political actors to “track” him if he does not play along.
He said: “If his people in Umuahia Central State Constituency feels he is good enough to represent them in the House of Assembly so be it, I think it will be unfair to use my ambition as an Abia South man from Obingwa to truncate the ambition of a young Umuahia man who want to start a political career. It is unheard of.
“You don’t get elected as speaker of the House of Assembly by staying in your house and talk about it. You are going to have 24 people elected into the House and the speaker will be elected from among them and if they say he is good enough to be the first amongst equals let him be, but if they look at him and say no he will not be, I don’t think it is proper for us to talk about the sex of a child before the child is conceive.”
Speaking on his preparedness to tackle the problem of Aba, Ikpeazu said he is not a stooge of anybody, stressing that he ready to step on toes if that is what it will take to get Aba right and reposition Abia State.
Speaking with confidence of winning the coming election, Ikpeazu said: “Much as I count myself lucky to be picked out of so many qualified Abians for the top job by our party, I am not a stooge to anybody.
“Lifting the city of Aba from its current state will be the priority of our administration. These will include uplifting current infrastructures, upgrading facilities at the Ariaria Market and other markets in Aba as well as dealing with issue of environmental denigration which has become the lot of the commercial city.”
On the industrialization of the state, he said: “We have a roadmap on how to revive various industries, which are in comatose in the state, as well as apply some new techniques that will make the internally generated revenue of the state from its current N500m monthly to about N2 billion monthly.
“I am calling on all Abia people to give me the maximum support and votes so that we will actualise our dreams for the state.
“Our vision is to make Abia State the premier destination in Nigeria, West and Central Africa for investors, traders, shoppers, workers and tourists.
“To actualise this, we must leverage on the strategic geographical location of Aba, which makes it what sugar is to ants, and attract trade and commerce. Aba is the commercial centre of Old Eastern Region and a major players in the commercial life of Nigeria, West and Central Africa. It is, therefore, our duty to place world class infrastructure around the city so that we can return trade and commerce and build industrial clusters, using the German model of apprenticeship system, where we have family line businesses.
“Our government must intervene in terms of giving access to world class finishing and equipment so that there can be mass production of finished products that can compete for space in shops in top shops in America, Europe and Asian markets.
“We will do a mass reorientation of the way our people think. The time has come when we will not allow people talk down on Aba and her products. We are among the best in the world. Our plan is that in the days ahead, Aba will attract the attention of African and the World to Nigeria. This is our focus.
“People talk about Aba just because they want votes. But I talk about Aba with more passion because that is where I come from. None of the candidates is more interested in Aba as I am, because you can’t be more Catholic than the Pope. I have a proper diagnostics of the Aba problem. Aba’s problem is rooted in the fact that infrastructural stock of the city, in terms of drainages, houses, roads, have been static for decades and the population has grown geometrically.
“The drainage system has remained unmanned and unserviced because it is underground. Once you have underground drainage system, you must maintain it. You must go through it every year. But in the case of Aba, the drainages have been left for decades and some people have also constructed buildings across the drainages. We have three storey buildings and churches across the drainages.
“We have two options on draining and de-flooding. One, there is an underground drainage system, which has been silted to the brim and that is why each time it rains there will be flooding. So, we will either open up and use open drainages or we continue with the underground drainages where we have to get experts to open the underground drainage for it to enter into the Aba River. But draining straight into the Aba River is also not environmentally sustainable. So we are thinking about a secondary water treatment plant around Aba River that would capture the storm water, treat it up to secondary level and return it to the river so that aquatic life can thrive.
“For those who have constructed buildings across the drainages, those buildings will go because a kilometre of drainage will serve the entire city of five million people but a single house on the waterway will serve just a family. We can’t allow your selfishness to put us all at risk.
“We must do a ring road around Aba, while we revisit the existing roads, remodel and redesign them. I said earlier that Aba is in the centre of our plans because it is at the confluence of the states in the South-East and South-South, and our industrial clusters are going to take off from Aba. What we can get in Aba in terms of internally generated revenue can help us develop other parts of Abia.
“We must do everything we need to do to get Aba right. This is my mission in Abia State.”