Despite being a constituent state of the Niger Delta region that enjoys 13 per cent derivation from oil revenue aside from the monthly FAAC allocations and Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), Abia is still not rated among the financially healthy states in Nigeria.
Bizarrely, her full basket of natural resources is yet to change her fortune and that of her citizenry. With over 100 oil wells and three installed flow stations that produce approximately 40,000 barrels of crude oil per day, Abia State remains on financial life support.
The scowls on people’s faces explain the frustration and growing disenchantment with the unfortunate situation, all thanks to decades of failed promises from touted solutions. It has led to trepidation to the extent that an expression of interest from anybody with capacity to proffer solution-no matter his/her pedigree — is greeted with the deriding street parlance, “na the same people”.
Of course, their scepticism is justified when like a violist turning up to play with a heavy metal band, individuals entrusted with public service have failed to strike the sought-after cord. Abians want the pulsating beat of rock (faster pace to development), while their leaders plumped for the symphony of the orchestra. The result is the heightening criticism and public distrust for public servants.
Former commissioner for environment and Anambra 2021 gubernatorial aspirant, Dr Ifedi Okwenna, re-echoed this consensus with his damning assessment of Abia and the dismal performance of her public servants thus:
“It has been an unfortunate situation for Abia State. A state that ought to be a leading state in the South-East geopolitical zone occupying the bottom position is unacceptable. But it has a great future. Aba alone can generate all the resources that Abia needs. What Abia State needs is a prudent resource manager. Somebody who can achieve wonders with a little.”
His assertion seems a tall order in an era in which the world is emphasising due diligence. We wonder how many politicians and businessmen can scale through if scrutinised. But Dr Okwenna was undaunted by the worsening pessimism and cynicism about the future of Abia.
“Abia has a solution. I have known this solution for more than 15 years. He is among the few who can scale through such process. His name is Professor Gregory Ikechukwu Ibeh, OFR; the Chancellor of Gregory University, Uturu and an entrepreneur professor,” he said.
He added, “He has scaled through the due diligence processes of the United Nations (UN), African Development Bank (AfDB) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).”
Now, it is becoming interesting. Prof. Greg Ibeh is like a rich, caring balm combining the calming ointment with the restorative properties to relieve Abia State of her wide variety of skin conditions. The assumption is embedded in his assertion thus:
“The due diligence allows me to keep marketing. If I wanted to market my state, Abia, I’ll market it there. They (UN, AfDB, ECOWAS) know that the only culture I believe in is the culture of best practice. If your money comes in any circle that I am, it will give a better return value for the money you invested. That’s the good thing I have going for me. You can’t tell me that because I am a businessman, therefore, I cheat. No, I hate cheating.”
He also added, “UN tells you that 25 per cent map out on a contract is an acceptable one if you pay me that one, I’m comfortable. It will take me a long time. I can’t profiteer on any human being because my idea is to improve man. Why exploiting? The exploitative attitude doesn’t work for me. That’s why all my business thinking goes to bringing something to society.”
Now, it is a 100 per cent assurance that public funds will be safe and also put to good use under the watch of Prof. Greg Ibeh when elected. Aside from this, he will restore the damaged reputation of Abia State and make it easy for investors and safe for investments.
For Dr Okwenna, achieving this feat is not a mirage for Prof. Greg Ibeh whom he described as a workaholic and someone who wants perfection in everything.
“He never gets tired of working. He wants to see a system that moves. If he gets the opportunity to govern Abia, that state will be rediscovered and every facet of the state will begin to work. He is not a leader that leads from behind. He leads from the front. He is an entrepreneur and an inventor. His emergence will recreate Abia.
“He will create a lot of wealth for Abians. He will try to utilise the rich human and natural resources in Abia and put them to work. He is not the type that goes for a white-collar job. He will change the mentality of the youth from thinking about a white-collar job to entrepreneurship, creating wealth for themselves. What he has been able to achieve with Gregory University Uturu is an attestation of his transformational ability. He will achieve a result with little resources. That is the kind of person Abia needs now.”