September 30, 2023
Professor Gregory Ikechukwu Ibe is the founder and chancellor of Gregory University in Uturu, Okigwe, and the APGA governorship candidate for Abia State. In this interview with newsmen he states why he wants to be governor and what he intends to achieve while in office. CASATNEWS T

Greg Ibe: I’ll give equal treatment to all geographical divides in Abia State

Professor Gregory Ikechukwu Ibe is the founder and chancellor of Gregory University in Uturu, Okigwe, and the APGA governorship candidate for Abia State. In this interview with newsmen he states why he wants to be governor and what he intends to achieve while in office. CASATNEWS TV

You left PDP to pick the ticket of APGA for the 2023 governorship. Why?

I aspired to be the governor of Abia State in 2014 and the governor then asked me to hold on for the sake of the Abia zoning formula, which favoured the Ngwa community. I had earlier written to the governor as well as the party. It was documented that by 2023, I would be out again as the adopted candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) based on what was agreed. I came out and unfortunately the people in power decided to make a change on the Abia Charter of Equity, a charter written and signed by our forefathers, elders, and stakeholders. It became a one-man affair.

I decided to return to the All Progressives Grand alliance (APGA), a party of principle. I decided to come to APGA to make sure that our people speak with one voice. I am happy that I came in to provide all my ability, all that I have been by way of experience and service to the people; I want to make sure that Abia and Ndi Igbo become properly integrated into the Nigerian experiment. That is a lot of challenge ahead for me.

What other reasons led to your choice of APGA as a platform for your governorship contest?
APGA’s original concept was that Ndi Igbo should all come together, under one umbrella, just as the Yorubas had at various times come together to form a party that united them in their quest to rule the country. Our embrace for nationalism did not allow us to do this, especially in the Third and Fourth Republics. However, the politics of Nigeria has taught us that those that come together as brothers have a better negotiating power than those with nationalistic tendencies. It is not that we are not or should not be nationalistic but that your negotiating power and influence should begin from the home base. Charity, it is said, begins at home.

You will play the game of nationalism better if your negotiating power is assured. When this alignment is achieved, people will know that associating with us will bring the best returns to both sides, with appreciative dividends that make everybody happy and equal before God. That is what APGA represents, and I feel at home standing in for APGA today. God showed His light to me by making sure that I won the primary when it mattered most. God proved that He has made it that I should go and work for my people. I have no doubt in me that with APGA, Ndi Igbo must come together.

Among the other key participants, Uche Ikonne, Alex Otti, and Ikechi Emenike, what are your advantages and weak points over them?
With all due respect, there is a saying that: si ce n’est pas du panadol ce n’est pas du Panadol, which is to say: if it is not Panadol, it is not Panadol.

All these people that you have mentioned are of course stakeholders in the Abia project but there is none among them that has added value to Abia the way I have done, not to the infrastructure, or to anything, I know of; they only come to struggle to be in the forefront of leading Abia, to reap where they have sown so little, preparing to reap from the state like others have done. Some people come to take away from the lean resources of the state but not me.

I am the only one with a proven record of having invested in the state, of having employed people in the state and keeps employing people and adding value to the state. Where were they when all this was happening? What did they do with their money? Now, they all want to come now and seek governance.

For me it is the end of discussion as far as being the Governor of Abia State is concerned. I wish them well, but they know too well themselves that there is no comparison between them and I.

Once my name is mentioned from the area of competence, on investment in the state, on having the perquisite knowledge or ideas on development, I remain their non-pareil. I respect their diverse kinds of training, upbringing, and experience but they should know that in comparison, I am quite up there.

What are the contending issues that must be addressed when you become governor?
Abia has a unique positioning surrounded by seven states at the heart of the Southeast and South-South, surrounded by a sea in need of dredging; it has what it takes to attract investors of diverse types, yet we have not been able to take advantage of that considering our enormous resources. We were at a point called the Japan of Africa, but we keep going down in performance ranking by the day. The challenges are enormous in terms of reversing this trend on a growth level that will connect with who we are known to be. We did not come here by chance or fluke and if we are not to be downgraded, we must brace up for the challenges of the future.

The infrastructure decadence in Aba exemplifies the issues in the ongoing narrative. Every Abian, every citizen of the Southeast, all Nigerians and foreigners who were privileged to dwell or work in Aba, must be concerned that Aba is now a shadow of its glorious past.
Aba has gone into a state of decomposition. If you look at Aba, you will see that it has gone tremendously down, and a lot of people have moved out of the commercial city. There was a time the city had a security challenge, such that

commercial city. There was a time the city had a security challenge, such that many people ran away; now the situation is worse; there are diverse challenges bordering on poor infrastructure; people are leaving in their droves including corporate organisations. The annual ravaging flood has hardly spared the city.

The state government was supposed to collaborate with the World Bank in helping Aba have a good drainage system. With less than seven months to go, the Ikpeazu Administration has nothing to offer Aba people in that direction. The project has been dead on arrival.

The healthcare institutions are as good as dead; the government is owing workers huge amounts of their salaries, and each month adds to the previous month; it is also not paying pensioners. The Bible says a worker deserves his wage. The opposite is the case in Abia State. Somebody somewhere should be held accountable.

The Gregory Ibe Administration must be one of equal treatment to all the geographical divides of the state, not a partial, unequal approach where a governor from Abia North distributes the infrastructure and political offices to the advantage of his own people at the expense of others. This is fully addressed in my manifesto. Those people who narrow down their development to their community are parochial leaders and have nothing to offer Abia State.

I have been involved in all kinds of infrastructure development in Imo and Abia states, including the construction of the Imo Airport during and after the tenure of the then military administrator Anthony Ogugua. The asphalted tarmac and runway remain the evidence of a professionally executed job despite the facts that funds were lean and not forthcoming. Since we completed the construction work on that airport, the runway remains one of the best in the country.

Poor maintenance culture is a big problem in Abia State. Abandoned structures are noticeable everywhere because of a poor maintenance culture. Elevated health centres known as General Hospitals, are littered all over the state with poor facilities, drugs, and medical personnel. Abia State has a definite problem; you cannot compare it with any state in the country that is moving ahead. It remains the least developed state of the Southeast and possibly the whole country.

I want to come in and cleanse the Augean stable; I will hit the ground running with what is available, with whatever anybody has done before, taking it as a base and then make Abia to resemble what it ought to be in terms of being the number one state it was meant to be.

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