Segun Lawal of SecureNigeria365 was recently a host to fast rising musical Act SkyP. In this interview, the crooner opens up on an earful bordering his family, background, musical journey and love life. Now you can have an eyeful.
Kindly Introduce Yourself
I’m Peter Amuche, a.k.a SkyP, your favourite Arab-Money crooner.
How did you come about the name “SkyP?”
Well, the name came like a joke, we were chilling, and the guy is like, ‘you are always looking good, fresh, and clean. It’s only the sky that we know that can always be clean all the time,’ and from there, everybody started calling me ‘Sky.’ And the name sounded nice to me, and I didn’t ask them to stop. Then my first name, Peter, abbreviated to “P.” So, Sky P.
I’m sure not a few would like to have a peek at your family background
Ok, I’m from the eastern part of Nigeria, Imo State. A family of 3 boys, no girl. However, I have a girl in my family that is like a sister, because she grew up with us. So, my dad, Late Raymond Amuche, was an ambassador. I’m supposed to be like a politician, but at the end of the day, I found another career. I have my mum, my dad, and my siblings that are all.
Did your Father in some way influence the society ,for eg, like you are now?
He was a great man. The man did a lot in this country. He obtained his PhD degree at the age of 25 in Oxford University, London.
What is your educational background?
My dad died when I was at 4. So, it wasn’t really easy growing up. I had to struggle with my mum and other siblings. I’m actually the last born. My primary school was Centre primary school. My secondary school was Okwuato Secondary school, and I was fun for me. After that, I travelled to Ghana, from Ghana, I went to London. From London, I went to Atlanta for my tertiary education.
Can you share some of your experience with us, while growing up in school?
I had a lot of girls that liked me, and always fighting like, ‘he is my boyfriend, my boyfriend.’ I didn’t even know what that was then. But it was really fun, because I was kind of the centre of attraction during my school days. The fact that I used to play soccer a lot and was also brilliant, always coming first, at most time. Or worse, second. I was always been used as an example in school. So, I had a lot of fans, female fans, but then, but for me it was just sort of heady being the attraction because I didn’t know what that was then to have a girlfriend. So, it was really fun, and that kind of shaped me to who I am today. It gave me this exclusivity which I took to the world and had to apply in everything I do. Even in music; if you can go get my singles, from ‘INSANE’ to ‘HIGHER MART,’ ‘I REP MONEY,’ you will see that exclusivity.
How did you go back to the world, can you please clarify that?
That’s when I went into the real world; when I went into the world of maturity; when mum is not there to say “why did you come back by 8.” When I was growing, I dare not come back home after 7pm. So, that kind of training helped me, making who I am today. My manager can testify to it, I live a very simple life; I don’t live life based on the things I have access to.
Music as a career, can you share with us, how it all started?
Well, I can’t even place where the talent came from, because when I was growing up, the only thing I knew about was education. But my mum used to lead different choir, different musical groups. Every musical group my mum was part of, when I was growing up, she was the leader. As early as 5am she would always wake-up singing. So, I got to loving music through my mother.
So, your mother had a great influence on you
Yea, positively, because I knew all the hymns, my mum sang. I met this producer Lelo, who goes by the name Kelvin Board, now. And he produced for Ice Prince, right before my face, and while they were doing that, I was getting different melodies in my head. So I later told the guy I would try something. So, after 2 weeks, I called him up to say I was ready to sing. That was my first ever recorded single.
What’s the title of the single?
“INSANE.” It has over 85,000 download on ‘Notjustok.’ It has over 50,000 views on Youtube. The response to that song was inspiring. Whenever I played the song in car with my friends and they asked ‘who sang that song?’ I would like ‘one of my friends’, and they would say, ‘it sounds so nice.’ When later I told them that I was the one who sang the song, they said, ‘you can’t be the one, impossible.’ So, I started seeing the talents in myself. I discovered myself. That’s why I’m signed to my own record label, because nobody can really understand what I see; the kind of dream I have regarding the music industry.
So, what’s your style of music?
Something different ‘hip life.’ I listen to a lot of hip-hop songs. I listen to lots of Afro songs. Arab-Money has this hip-hop with an Afro-beat on it. So, my own hip-hop life represents hip-hop in a highlife way. That is hip-hop and highlife coming together.
What’s the concept behind Arab-Money?
The concept behind Arab-Money is doing something out of the box. Something nobody has done. That has been my intention, what I’ve always wanted to come up with. I’ve travelled to Dubai a couple of times from Atlanta, and Arab-Money is not really about physical money, because if you watch the video, I didn’t show that kind of physical money. But, it’s about how the Arabians live their own life – that we, Africans won’t be able to see. As an artiste, I have to artistically bring that to the screen, because I am supposed to bring people’s imagination to reality, through my heart. That’s what I did. So if you are imagining how Dubai looks like, How they live their lives, i gave what i could. We shot with their helicopters, we shot on the sea, we shot in the desert, we shot in a nice mansion, beautiful girls, camels and others; Just about artwork, bringing something to the script; something that my fans would appreciate. I’m not going to show ‘Oshodi,’ ‘Ikeja,’ something we see every day. I’m still going to show them in my upcoming project. But particularly, Arab-Money. I had a good intention, and which I achieved.
Clarify the intention and how you achieved it
From reviews, the TV stations, radio stations, newspapers, all the media houses really appreciated that work, because they know what it takes to finance a project like that. I know how many media houses, even in South Africa that are already asking for me to come for interviews, just because of that Arab-Money. I want people to know who I am.
How Supportive Were Your Parents in your chosen career?
My mum was kind of in-between. But, she would always want me to further my education to some kind of office work, and that’s the normal thing that we are all experiencing in the Nigeria’s community. But, at the end of the day, when she saw the outcome of my first single, she was like ‘okay.’ Then, the second one came in then she was like, ‘are you serious?’ Then Arab-Money, she was like, ‘ok, you have my support.’ It wasn’t easy at first, but right now, I’ve been able to convince them, not by word of mouth, but by actions.
How many tracks so far?
I’ve released 4. I have a few tracks that features other talented artistes but from now till December, I should be coming out with 1 or 2 tracks for the year.
Which is the most interesting of your albums?
Arab-Money is the one that appeals to me most.
What would have become if not a Musician?
I first wanted to be a soccer player, but I tried a lot of things here in Nigeria. I even went to Ghana, played in Nani, the club was owned by Abedi Pele. I played with Abedi Pele’s son, in the same team. But growing in Africa it is not easy doing this. Sometimes they will tell you, you have trial in Germany, but you need to come with some amount to sponsor yourself.
How Acceptable is your Music in Atlanta?
They play it in all African clubs. There are also comments of people saying they heard the music in this or that club. In Atlanta, I started having musicians as friends, producer friends. I associated myself with entertainers, that’s why it was easy for me to penetrate.
Are you Married?
I’m single for now.
So, What Kind of Girl Are you Looking At?
A supportive woman, understanding, because you know the industry I’m in. So, I need an extra-ordinary woman to have a healthy relationship with. And I’m looking forward to that extra-ordinary woman, someone that would just understand ‘SkyP.’ There is ‘SkyP,’ there is Peter Amuche. Not the one that would see in a video, and believe what she’s seeing, forgetting that there is a director behind the scene. There is make-up artiste, there is my manager, a lot of people are there. But after the video must have been edited, you would only see me and the girl. So, I need that woman who thinks more than ordinary woman. That’s what I’m looking for.
How Do you Manage Your Female Fans?
I’m a friend of all. I try to make everybody happy, as much as I can. In as much as you cannot please everybody, but do all I can, to make them feel important, because everyone is important, in one way or the other.
Your First kiss, How was the Experience?
(Laughs)… my first kiss was in my SS3 when I became school prefect. There was this girl, who even if she didn’t conform to the dress code, I allowed her be. She was the only one I allowed to school even without sandals; she could wear something different. And I would be like, ‘don’t touch her.’ So, one day I escorted her home, so, we went to this track road, we looked left, right and nobody was coming. And before we knew it, our mouths came together, and I had goose bumps all over my body. It was a good experience and wonderful. But now trust me, I’m the best kisser in the world…(.laughs).
What Will you Not Be Caught Doing?
Stop singing. I would not be caught without singing, without recording, without working hard.
What Can you Say About your Manager?
He is wonderful and fantastic. A hard-working manager. As an artiste, you really need to be very careful with who represents you, because that’s the person who carries your image. If you have an arrogant manager, you are bound to fail. So, my manager is a humble guy, and straight forward. He makes my work so easy, my music can enter anywhere without my presence. So, that’s what I looked out for, and that’s what God gave me.
Where Do you See Yourself in the Next 5 Years?
I see myself having a stronger team, and ‘Sky Diamond Entertainment’ being a major record label, that would grow talents from the African entertainment world.
How would you Describe Yourself?
I’m passionate, humble and a hard-working gentle man. But I don’t like praising myself too much. The way I talk to my gateman, manager is the way I talk to everyone whether rich or poor. I try not to offend anybody. So, that personality came from my father. My father had so many friends, the poor, the rich, and the ordinary. And so, that’s my personality.
Your Most Embarrassing Moment?
I don’t want to go into that, but I will. So, my fans can get to know where I’ coming from. I came from a family that my dad had it all. He believed in helping others. He did not invest and buy house like the politicians we have now. He didn’t do all that. He was kind, and invested in humans, uncles, brothers. But at the end of the day, when the man was not around, everybody disappeared. So, it was like really, really ugly growing up. Especially when they chase us for school fees from school. You know how embarrassing that would be. So, that used to be my most embarrassing moments.
Your Likes and Dislikes
I dislike lies, and people that take advantage of other humans. That’s what we find in our society, today. I hate people like that. For the fact that someone is being nice to you, trying to help you doesn’t mean that person is a fool. So, I like people that are honest, appreciative of other people. People that love their neighbor, not only your next door neighbor. If I meet you anywhere I don’t have any reason to disrespect you. People that respect other people. And I like to eat good food, especially vegetable soup with, semovita, pando yam, and I also like jollof rice.
Your Kind of Perfume
I wear like 4 perfumes at a time. And the names are; conquer mixture, conquer mixture is a combination of 4 different perfumes. I have creed, I have Tom Ford, I have Pacorry Band, and an Arabian perfume, which I can’t pronounce the name fluently.
Who is your Fashion Designer?
I will go with Tom Man, because that’s where I find things that suit my body structure. It’s not about how expensive the thing you wear, but it’s about the fitness. So, whenever I travel to London, I always make sure I get my Top Man.
Any Collaboration with a Nigerian Artiste?
Yea, I did ‘Lamba’ with Dj Real. I have something big coming up for Christmas. I want to celebrate the x-mas with my fans in a musical way, that they would be happy and forget the ups and down for the year.. So, I’m going to keep that on the low for now, because I don’t want to break protocols.
Your Advice for Upcoming Artistes with Your Kind of Experience?
Stick to that bright dream, and always listen to that first positive voice in you. That’s always telling you, you can do it. If you know you actually have the talent, don’t be disappointed by the things people say to you, day-by-day, trying to take you down. Just believe in yourself, we hear that word ‘believe in yourself,’ but a lot of people don’t really understand that word ‘believe in yourself.’ You can only believe in yourself when people disbelieve you. When you drop a single and everybody condemns it, and you still go ahead. So, that’s all I can tell them.
Thank you very much, it was a pleasure talking with you…
EDITORIAL: Healthcare Reforms in Nigeria; A Mere Political Statement Lacking Commitment
By Manny Ita
Nigeria has since her independence in 1960 had a very robust verbiage or policies by successive gobernments on health reforms but with very little progress or success recorded in what might well be a lack of political will in reforming the health sector.
Over 90% of the Nigerian population are without health insurance coverage. The inability to effectively address the country’s numerous public health challenges has contributed to the persistent and high level of poverty and weakness of the health system.
Political instability, corruption, limited institutional capacity and an unstable economy have also been major factors responsible for the poor development of health services in Nigeria. Households and individuals in Nigeria bear the burden of a dysfunctional and inequitable health system – delaying or not seeking health care and having to pay out of pocket for health care services that are not affordable.
The health challenges of the country include:
National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS),
National Immunisation Coverage Scheme (NICS),
Midwives Service Scheme (MSS)
Nigerian Pay for Performance scheme
After many attempts at implementing legislation on health insurance since 1960, NHIS, although established in 1999, was eventually launched only in 2005 with the goals to ensure access to quality health care services, provide financial risk protection, reduce rising costs of health care services and ensure efficiency in health care through programmes such as the: Formal Sector Social Health Insurance Programme (FSSHIP), Mobile Health, Voluntary Contributors Social Health Insurance Programme (VCSHIP), Tertiary Institution Social Health Insurance Programme (TISHIP), Community Based Social Health Insurance Programme (CBSHIP), Public Primary Pupils Social Health Insurance Programme (PPPSHIP), and the provision of health care services for children under 5 years, prison inmates, disabled persons, retirees and the elderly.
The NHIS was expected to provide social and financial risk protection by reducing the cost of health care and providing equitable access to basic health services with the most vulnerable populations in Nigeria including children, pregnant women, people living with disabilities, elderly, displaced, unemployed, retirees and the sick.
Free health care services and exemption mechanisms are expected to provide financial risk protection for the most vulnerable populations but evidence suggest that they are ineffective and have failed to achieve this aim.
The maternal mortality ratio for Nigeria remain quite high at 814 per 100000 live births according to 2016 World Health Statistics. Across the country, pregnant women and children under five years are generally charged fees when accessing health care services, despite the federal government’s declaration of free health for pregnant women and children under five years in 2005.
The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole in 2016 announced the Federal Government’s plan to provide free health services to 100 million Nigerians in the next two years. Under this new health agenda, pregnant women across Nigeria are expected to enjoy free maternal and delivery services at the primary health care (PHC) level.
Unfortunately, Free health care services and exemption mechanisms often arise as campaign promises of political actors to the electorate and fall short in meeting the health needs of the most vulnerable populations. According to Nigeria Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) in 2013, over 60% of pregnant women aged 15-49 deliver their babies at home without any antenatal care visits. In rural areas, this value reaches 76.9%. The situation is critical in North East and North West regions of Nigeria where over 79% of pregnant women age 15-49 deliver their babies at home. Over 60% of pregnant women in Bayelsa, Plateau and Niger deliver at home rather than a health facility.
The cost of health care and the low quality of care by the public have been argued to be the reason for the poor utilisation of maternal and child health services in Nigeria.
In addition, health spending in Nigeria is low and this is responsible for the over-reliance on out of pocket payments for health care services.
Despite its launch in 2005, NHIS covers less than 10% of the Nigerian population leaving the most vulnerable populations at the mercy of health care services that are not affordable. This means the most vulnerable populations in Nigeria are not provided with social and financial risk protection. Poor people constitutes about 70% of the Nigerian population. They lack access to basic health services, which social and financial risk protection should provide, because they cannot afford it.
CBSHIP was expected to meet their health needs as well as provide social and financial risk protection to this group, which mostly reside in rural areas. As evidenced in the high rate of out of pocket payments for health care services , poor people financially contribute more to health care than official care and funds programmes in Nigeria. Out of pocket payments for health care services limit the poor from accessing and utilising basic health care services.
The quality of health care services delivered is poor and remains a huge source of concern. Most of the PHC facilities that are supposed to meet the health needs of the poor and rural dwellers are in a poor state due to poor budgetary allocation.
In trying to solve these issues, healthcare in the country must be tackled headlong in order to stem the detyeriorating development therein, which could portend grave danger for citizens of the country in the no-ditant future.
Policy makers and political actors need to devise health care reforms to address the lack of social and financial protection for the poor and vulnerable populations. Part of this reform is the expansion of the NHIS. States should be mandated to provide health insurance coverage to all residents. Making health insurance optional for states over the years has affected the ability of the NHIS to increase the level of coverage for the people.
While the mandatory CBHI scheme is being scaled-up as a supplementary measure, state governments should enrol poor residents in a private health insurance plan and bear the responsibility of paying the monthly premium per person to Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs). It is not enough to have a national health insurance policy, it is important to ensure that health insurance coverage is provided to the poor and most vulnerable populations as a matter of the human right to health.
Although the NHIS Act made provision for children, who constitute the largest population in Nigeria, many children still have to pay for health care services in spite of being born into poor families that do not have the ability to pay for health care services and suffer financial hardship as a consequence. The free health policies and exemption mechanisms provided by some states, targeted at children, pregnant women and the elderly, are not social and financial risk protection policies, as these groups are largely responsible for the cost of health care with the free health care programme barely covering their basic health care services.
Another way of providing social and financial risk protection for poor and vulnerable populations is by establishing a legislative framework for a UHC scheme and setting aside funds for it. Evidence from Thailand has shown the effect of UHC schemes through PHC on expanding access to health care for the poor and vulnerable populations.
Political actors, policy makers and all stakeholders in the health sector should establish a government funded social and financial risk protection scheme through a general tax financing system for the poor and vulnerable, and invest in basic infrastructure for health care in rural areas for quality health care service delivery. UHC schemes are important in addressing the problem of poor coverage, limited access to health care, and poor quality of health care services.
Nigeria is yet to adopt innovative ways to protect the poor and vulnerable populations against financial risk of ill health. It is important to guarantee by law the right to health care of all citizens in Nigeria. Although the National Health Act (NHA) that was signed into law in 2014 stated that all Nigerians are entitled to basic minimum package of health care services, it is not clear if the provisions made in the NHA are capable of achieving UHC in Nigeria. In addition, the NHA is yet to be implemented over two years after its signage into law.
Some low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) have been able to provide social and financial risk protection schemes for poor and vulnerable populations as a matter of the human right to health. Therefore, there is a need to provide social health protection schemes targeted at these groups in Nigeria. The poor and vulnerable populations should not become impoverished because of failure to obtain much needed health care services. Governments must reduce out of pocket payments for health care services by households through the adoption of a tax financed non-contributory UHC scheme.
Protest Rocks Alausa Over Supreme Court Verdict On Agidingbi Community
Scores of community leaders and residents of Agidingbi area of Ikeja on Thursday embarked on peaceful protest against the judgment of Supreme Court which awarded ownership of 398 acres of landed property in the community to a traditional land-owning family, Akinole-Oshiun.
The possession order is said to cover a large section of the Lateef Jakande Road, Acme Road, Fagba Close, and other streets around the area, totaling over 2000 buildings.
The protesters, who marched from Agidingbi to House of Assembly complex in Alausa, said Akinole-Oshiun family, which is the judgment-creditor in the case, had already given them seven days ultimatum to vacate their houses, urging the government to quickly intervene to avert bloodshed.
They displayed placard of various inscriptions such as “There is no ancestral link between Akinole and Agidingbi Land, Land Grabbers are enemies of Lagos State,” among others.
Leader of Ojodu Legislative Arm, Hon Wasiu Bolaji-Seidu who is also a community leader in Agidingbi said the news of the possession order came to the community as a big surprise as nobody from the area was served with the court process that led to the judgment.
He said: “On Friday, they (judgment-creditor) brought a judgment and placed it on our houses and said they have taken over the entire Agidingbi land. The issue is Agidingbi was not mentioned in the judgment; nobody from Agidingbi was part of the case and I don’t know how you will enforce a judgment against a person that was never part of the case.
“Agidingbi has been in existence for over 200 years ago. I was born and bred in Agidingbi; my forefathers were born and bred in Agidingbi and I don’t see any reason why somebody will just wake up and say they are the owner of the community.
“I am over 50 years; my father lived for over 90 years in this community before he died; my great grand-father died at the age of 150 years and I don’t know where Akinole is coming from and we have people like Habibatu Mogaji who was the Yeye-Oba of Agidingbi; we have Femi Okunnu who is our father in the community and we don’t know where Akin-ole came from.”
He particularly urged the State Government to activate the provisions of the Anti-Land Grabbing Law of the State, and prevent the matter from degenerating into a full blown crisis.
“To the best of my knowledge, I know that Lagos State has enacted a law duly signed by the Governor prohibiting land grabbing in the State because this is a clear example of such case. That is why we are here to call on the Lagos State House of Assembly to look into it and find a lasting solution, failure of which there will be bloodshed,” Bolaji-Seidu said.
Also speaking, Baale of Agidingbi, Chief Ganiyu Ayinde Haruna, said they were embarking on the peaceful protest to call the attention of government to the silent crisis that is brewing in the community.
Narrating how it all began, Haruna said: “On Friday last week, we woke up to see people posting possession order on our property and we don’t know these people. We have been living here for several years and the issue is we don’t know this family that is laying claim to ownership of our land.
“We have never heard any relationship with this Akinole family and so it is surprising to us. Nobody knew anything about the court case. I mean how can you enforce court judgment against a party that was never part of the case? We are peaceful people and we are urging the Lagos State Government especially Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and the House of Assembly to intervene urgently in this matter because we don’t want bloodshed in our community.”
Also speaking, an 83-year old resident and Iyalode of Agidingbi, Evang Dorcas Faworaja said her great grand-parents were born in the area, therefore the claimant cannot just come from anywhere and lay claim to the community.
Receiving the protesters, Deputy Majority Leader of the Assembly, Hon Olumuyiwa Jimoh commended them for conducting themselves peacefully, assuring that the House would look into their case.
“Let me assure you that we are going to look into your petition without any fear or favour and I can assure you also that you will receive judgment at the end of the day,” Jimoh said.
Abia 2019: Why Ikpeazu Won with a Landslide
By Jude Ndukwe
The March 9 governorship poll has come and gone in Abia, and the people have since moved into post-election mood and activities. They have also since resumed their normal businesses after the rigours of what was an intense campaign period for some and simply a test of popularity for others.
The final result as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is as follows: PDP: 261,127; APC: 99,574; APGA: 64,366
The good news about the governorship election in Abia is that while some other States are still at it, grappling with needless violent deaths of not few Nigerians starting from when campaigns were flagged off last year, the conduct in Abia recorded no violence.
The free, fair, transparent, credible and violence-free conduct of the election in Abia State can be attributed to the peaceful and gentlemanly nature of the governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, who does not see any election as a Do-or-Die affair but simply the exercise of the people’s rights to freely choose their leaders. Despite all the shenanigans of his opponents, the bitterness of their campaigns, their twisting of facts to suit their warped narratives, their belligerent posturing etc, the governor never replied in kind. He was rather busy telling the people what he had done and the need to reelect him so as to continue to take Abia on the path of irreversible prosperity.
Abians are peace loving people. That is why the State has remained one of the most peaceful States in Nigeria under Ikpeazu, and it showed during the election, so that no matter how good one’s manifesto is, belligerent posturing put them off. After their ugly experiences in the past, there was no way Abians were going to elect anyone of bellicose nature to lead them and cause bitter divisions among them based on party and or tribal lines, entrench crime and criminalities and turn the state to a breeding ground for hoodlums. So, it was only natural that they queued behind Dr Okezie Ikpeazu who has been able to restore Abia to a State of peace which Abians earnestly craved for before the coming of the incumbent.
It is instructive to note at this point that in a report by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), for election-related killings between November 16, 2018 to March 10, 2019, while neighbouring States like Imo, Enugu, Anambra, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi, recorded 2, 1, 8, 55, 4 and 2, respectively, Abia recorded no single casualty.
The massive infrastructural development taking place in Abia is another factor that got Ikpeazu an easy reelection. With 74 road projects completed and over 90 others of strategic importance to the people and the State ongoing, Abians knew that they have never had it so good and reelecting Ikpeazu based on this was a no brainer.
Having constructed 4 new Model Schools, 359 new classroom blocks, and renovated about 70 of them across the three senatorial zones of the State, the educational sector of Abia received a massive boost under the governor to the extent that the State sits with pride atop all other States of the federation in WASCE in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and still counting, and could not be dislodged by others no matter their resources.
Abia has remained the only State throughout the federation where all her primary school pupils are fed in school every school day. While the federal government feeds children of Primary 1 – 3 nationwide, Abia feeds her pupils from Primary 4 – 6, despite her lean resources, thereby making her the only State of the federation where all her primary school pupils are fed every school day.
The result of this massive investments keep showing in the result the State posts every year in WASCE and other external exams.
This investment has also seen the State owned university, Abia State University, Uturu (ABSU), improve massively in the National Universities Commission (NUC) ranking, from 96th when Ikpeazu assumed office in 2015 to currently being in the first 10.
The revolution in agriculture where over 4 million high yielding tenera palm seedlings have been distributed to farmers is another factor that has endeared the governor to Abians of all status. Government-supported mushroom farming, poultry clusters and local rice production have all empowered many Abians.
The infrastructural development of the state and the peace she is enjoying under Ikpeazu have also given massive boost to the governor’s objective of attracting foreign investors to the state. The Enyimba Economic City, EEC, which is the governor’s prime investment creation and already labeled the “Dubai of Africa” by global investors has already attracted massive foreign direct investment to the extent that the World Bank rated Abia as the third most preferred investment destination for foreign investors after Abuja and Lagos in that order, for the last quarter of 2018.
The deliberate policies put in place by the Ikpeazu administration for Ease of Doing Business have also earned the state a rating as the fifth best state in that area, hence, giving the State the needed edge above others for investors.
Also, Dr Ikpeazu’s commitment to SME development in the State has earned him several awards including one from the federal government even though he is of a different party from the government at the centre. He has been aggressively leading the “Made in Aba” campaign to a huge success to the extent that the military and some paramilitary organisations have ordered for thousands of pairs of booths from Aba entrepreneurs. This is in addition to the fact that the government of Ikpeazu sponsored thirty of the Aba shoe and other leather works manufacturers to China to enhance their skills and acquire the requisite modern technological know-how to improve both quality and quantity of their works. The thirty young entrepreneurs have since returned and are in the process of cascading down their newly acquired knowledge to others back home. This is more so as the governor has acquired the needed advanced shoemaking machines for their use.
There have been revolutions also in the health sector where medical facilities are now easily accessible to all citizens of the State just at the dial of a number in the Dial-a-Doc Telehealth Initiative. This is particularly beneficial to the aged who might not have the strength to visit a health facility and are either attended to via telephone or visited by the mobile medical staff of the state. These are all in addition to 4 new General Hospitals built by the governor and strategically located in different parts of the State in addition to the already existing ones.
There is hardly any sector or population group in Abia State that the governor has not touched directly. It is therefore not surprising that long before the March 9 governorship election, Dr Ikpeazu had received a gale of endorsements from notable groups including political blocs, religious groups, traditional rulers, civil servants, artisans, traders, entrepreneurs, professional bodies, student and youth groups, women groups etc.
Among all the contenders, it was only Dr Okezie Ikpeazu who ran a comprehensive and energy sapping campaign that took him round all the 17 local government areas of the state despite his extremely tight schedule as governor. His wife, Deaconess Nkechi Ikpeazu also took to the streets vigorously campaigning for her husband from one local government to the other. While all these were on, the other candidates locked up and made themselves comfortable within the confines of their air conditioned campaign offices without reaching out to the people even if in, at least, five local governments of the 17 in the State. Throughout the campaign, a majority of Abians could not reach nor interact with them in person. They cordoned themselves off from the people and only made feeble attempts to reach out to the electorate through the media and social media which, most rural people where the bulk of votes come from, do not even have easy access to. While Ikpeazu was busy selling himself, his programmes and projects to the people in person, and even featured several times on all the radio stations in Abia State in no holds barred phone-in programmes, others were relying on “federal might” and “red eyes” for magic! Tragic!
From the foregoing, no objective political observer would be surprised at Ikpeazu’s landslide victory at the last governorship poll.
His case was even made easier by the Charter of Equity as bequeathed by Abia’s founding fathers which stipulates that, for the sake of fairness and peace, the Abia State governorship should be rotated among the three senatorial zones of Abia North, Abia Central and Abia South. Having taken their own turns from 1999 – 2007 (Abia North through Orji Uzor Kalu), and from 2007 – 2015 (Abia Central through Senator T.A. Orji), it was only fair and just that the people of Abia South where Ikpeazu hails from be allowed to complete their own eight years of two tenures as did his predecessors. This is more so given the achievements of the incumbent which have more than justified the Charter.
There was no way Abians were going to jettison the Charter just to satisfy the selfish yearnings of few politicians who hail from the same senatorial zones that had already taken their turn at the governorship in the past. That would have been a recipe for disaster in the State. To avoid such a political catastrophe, Abians overwhelmingly rejected the other contenders and stuck with Ikpeazu in order to preserve the sanctity of the Charter of Equity that has been an effective template for the peaceful transition of power from one administration to the other in the state, hence, Ikpeazu’s landslide victory at the polls had long been foretold by political historians and scientists, and unfolded as expected based on the variables enumerated above and even more!
An attempt by anyone to challenge this people-oriented election in court will court the people’s anger against such a person and will further diminish the little of what is left of the person’s image before the people.
— firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @stjudendukwe
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