Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu speaks to Nseobong Okon-Ekong on his efforts to bequeath a strong economy to his successor and how he was able to reverse the losses in agriculture and education
Your work with SMEs has been widely acknowledged as worthy example for other states. How did you achieve that?
You can’t ignore the 250,000 SMEs, according to World Bank records, that are producing shoes and garments in Abia. As an Igbo man, I know that each person will have four apprentices, at least, so we have six or eight; that is about one million people. You can’t ignore them. Whatever they are doing, you must pay attention. For you to go and craft your own strategy for development and abandon what one million people are doing will be the wrong approach. We decided to focus on leather and garment.
Our first project may be intangible, because you can’t touch it, but it was one of the defining factors in 2015, and that was marketing. I choose to take up the marketing of Made-in-Aba. I took it everywhere, I wanted to achieve two things, one; speak to the psyche of the shoemakers and the tailors, that ‘hey you have an amazing talent.’ There is no difference between you and Gucci. I had to do a trade fair in Abuja and another one in New York; I took them there. I have taken shoemakers and tailors to Turkey and to China. I choose them over and above the usual politicians. I needed to get these people to think like the kings that they are because what killed us in this country is that oil created a consumption economy and now going back to a production economy is difficult. It needs time for you to manufacture and sell item-by-item; the slush money that comes with oil is no longer there. Unfortunately, manufacturing is where we must go. That is why agriculture has remained very unfashionable because people prefer to sell oil and make the money; round trip oil and some subsidy scam and all kinds of things within the oil industry. Having pushed the marketing project to a point, I couldn’t answer the question of how many shoes we produce in two days. This was revealed when the Nigerian Army placed an order for 50,000 pairs. At N10,000 per pair, you can see how much money came in. That is when it became necessary to build capacity; so I took 30 young boys and girls to China and then took them to a shoe factory and they started learning how to use machines to make shoes. Their performance on that manufacturing platform encouraged me so much that I had to import the machine. Today, we have, for the first time, an automated shoe factory in Aba. Capacity built, marketing strategy in place-they have a cooperative society they sit in the board. We have people to guide them a little. They are able to speak with Nexim Bank. If we did not help them set up that structure, Nexim Bank and other financial institutions will not touch them. Recently the Nexim MD came here and went to the factory to see what they are doing. In December, they produced all the shoes that Nigeria Railway Corporation used and they are at the brink of breaking another deal with the military and the police. That is the way to go. That is what I wear too; and my dress. They are made in Aba.
It has gone beyond that I wear to patronize them. If you look at my pictures, I do not think that I appear badly. People ask where I get my dresses. These people are thinking. I have a unique façade of appearance each time I go out. I am very proud to say that these my children produce all of these. The boy who started doing things for me since 2015 has bought a house in the highbrow area of Aba. I don’t know how much he bought it, but it can’t be anything below N60 or N70 million. He is not a small man. These are concomitant of these efforts. A few weeks ago, I went and registered at the footwear academy; that also came organically from all these efforts. I did not build the footwear academy, but I created the environment for Footwear Academy. I am excited by their intervention because they trained as shoemakers in Italy-husband and wife. They came and set up that Footwear Academy- I enrolled there because I wanted to see how I can capture the attention of our children. They are Igbos, but I don’t know if they are from Abia. One of the best tailors here is from Cross River. He went to the same law school as my children. I am learning how to make shoes now. I do my lessons-the other day I was able to do the left leg of a sandal, I will go back, if not for the security challenge we had to battle with in the last few days, I would have taken a new lesson.
I still find time to teach. I teach Bio-Chemistry at Abia State University. If you have passion for something, you will find the time. Governance now is no longer mechanical. At the base of all of these is the capacity for leadership. Social mobilization is critical. In doing that you must touch the mind of the people you are mobilizing. If I want to create a shoe manufacturing hub in Africa to compete with China. Today, it is almost happening-Footwear Academy has an Italian background, where I am learning how to make shoes; there is Nibra, which is from Brazil-Nibra is Nigeria-Brazil Shoe Company, they have set it up in Aba and then we have Enasco, Enyimba Automated Shoe factory-the Chinese background of Enasco, the Brazilian background of Nibra sand the Italian background of Footwear Academy, will simply make this place unbeatable. Do you know that on my enrolling into Footwear Academy, it attracted over 2000 enthusiasts. That is how to handhold your people in a certain enterprise, you cannot stand aloof. Sincerely speaking, how can I come from Aba and I am not a good tailor; I am not a good cobbler? How can I call myself an Aba boy and I don’t know all these things? Time will come when these will become the identity of the people from this area. That is one project that we started and we have completed in the area of Small and Medium Scale Enterprise. We have an SME Bank that does whatever we need to fund both trade and commerce as well as start-ups in the shoe and leather sub-sector. We also established a quality control agency that makes sure shoes that are produced here are consistent and of a quality that is above the national average. Our standard in our quality control unit is higher than what SON is certifying, that this their vision. If we don’t scale to be higher than the national average, how are we going to move our shoes into Walmart? That is my target. We barely missed it at the heat of COVID-19 in 2020. We got requisitions and enquiry, unfortunately Enasco was not ready at that time. They placed order from the parent company in China and the parent company was not producing. They were kind enough to hint that they have a full line they sent to Nigeria and then we were monitoring and tracking them. If we were a little bit aggressive at that time, we would have crossed that line. It is possible. That is part of what we have done in the Small and Medium Scale Industry. I want you to look at the tie-up from end-to-end; from the leather sub-sector. I am looking at; from training and then certification of shoemakers and then the practical exposure in an automated factory that Enasco came from and the capacity of the shoe factory to produce 15,000 pairs of shoes and then the collaboration. I am trying to dwell on the things we have completed already. I needed to let you into my vision and how I intend to package it in such a way that it can be sustainable.
If you go to education we have done a few things that are remarkable. This government has built over 7,000 classroom blocks, for model schools-those model schools have full complement of e-library, solar-powered laboratories, residential quarters for the teachers and then beautiful ultra-modern classrooms and a continuing education centre that teaches and retrain teachers. Education is dynamic and in a state of flux. Today, the most critical thing that any teacher should learn includes; one, Classroom Management, first aid, security, what a child should look out for; just like we were taught how to cross the road. Today, with what is happening in our schools, abducting students and all of that; Classroom Management becomes critical and important. Then we needed to create a platform to digitalize our teaching and we have imported the equipment. We have a smart box that this not bigger than a television decoder that can teach over 450 subjects. We needed to train our teachers to handle that machine and deploy it to the fullest to the benefit of our children. There was need to set up a continuing education centre for our teachers and to drive this we had to bring people from Australia, people from Bangladesh, people from India to come and teach these our teachers. The teaching profession is an international profession. Incidentally, I am a teacher. If you close the doors and the windows; you don’t attend conferences, you don’t attend summits, you don’t deliver papers outside, at some point you will begin to feel deficient, without anybody telling you that. If you are in the sciences, some of the stories you are telling them will be suspect; you may be caught telling people that Mongo Park discovered River Niger, whereas there were people there. Apart from the over 700 classroom blocks, we have done something to move the standard of our teaching and that is why for three years; back-to-back, Abia State came first in the WASC. If you talk about education there are components; which includes the environment and the hardware. The people who will do the teaching-the teachers; and the products are the pupils, these are the people who are in this environment. If you build a beautiful classroom and then you have not done anything about the capacity of the people will teach, then you have not done the work. We had to take all of them together just the way we were thinking when we dealt with Small and Medium Scale Manufacturing. In education, we wanted to see how to bring all the issues, one after another, so that no leg is deficient, going forward and the products are there to show. First in WASC; back-to-back for about four years, Abia came tops; then Abia State University moved ranking from Number 97 to about 26; the Second Best among state-owned schools; at least, that is what it was when I checked last. You can see that there are indices to show that things are beginning to look up.
During the COVID-19 break, we were very resourceful. I was teaching Biology on radio. We had a radio -teaching programme. That time everybody was shouting -how do we close? How do we open? We went into Radio-Classroom. I taught Biology lessons. Others taught Mathematics. I had to do that to encourage my teachers to key in. I encouraged my students. When they hear that the Governor was going to teach Biology, everyone tuned in, even the parents. I was getting feedback.
If you go to health, we have also done a few things that many people have not done, for instance we are the leading state in Primary Health Care. We have over 800 Primary Health Centres linked to a call centre in Government House, where I have 15 doctors attending to patients from across Abia. They are intervening in many ways; the first is ordinary citizens, a student is reading in ABSU and the clinic is closed by 2am suddenly, he has cramps and he needs to get attention, he can call us and a doctor picks up and then gives advice on what to do and tells him where the nearest government health centre is. We are cutting off quacks and we are giving people standard advice. They are also available to guide the primary health care centres to do their daily job. A primary health care centre in Osisioma had a delivery to supervise and then suddenly the mother couldn’t push and she needed help. There is this suction machine that we procured and gave to primary health care centres; they called the tele-health centre and through Whatsapp they taught her how to do it and she delivered that baby. I don’t know how many states that are on that platform now. The tele-health centre, the computers, the IT backbone and everything. Abia is perhaps one of the few states if not the only state that is running a geriatric outreach for the aged. We go into the localities for people that are 70 years and above. What was at the back of our mind when we were designing all these? We just wanted the life expectancy that is above the national average. It is 80 for males in Cuba; 84 for females in Cuba. That is higher than the life expectancy in the United States. What is it they did differently? I had an interaction with the Cuban Ambassador and he shared a few things with us, we decided to look at the entire spectrum of the health care system. At the extreme left is where you have the Mother and Child. If you can hold mother and child and ensure safe deliveries then you can be sure that you will be moving towards increasing life expectancy. On the other extreme is the elderly. I wish you could see the videos of the geriatric nurses on duty, it will touch you. Some of our aged people have been abandoned at home. Their children are in Lagos or in Abuja and the man is now left to take his medications. He may not take it at the right time. To handle his personal hygiene becomes a problem. There is this man who had a diabetic sore and it is by the grace of God that our people were there, they had to dress the wound, support him and then get him to the nearest primary health care centre and got them to review his wound from time-to-time and he got better. The testimonies are amazing. Between these two extremes where middle aged people belong, that is where you have the problem of people with cardio-vascular accident and road traffic accident. For them also, we set up an emergency outreach handled by a doctor in the diaspora but he set it up here. We bought ambulances, not hearse, which is what we use to carry corpse. These ambulances cost us about N95 million. It is a mobile hospital, it can do everything.
We have moved from two ambulances to five. Theirs is to intervene wherever they are called. They have integrated with the Nigeria Police and the fire service just like they have overseas. They have saved so many lives. In addition to that we have four general hospitals-Arochukwu, Okikpe, Obinwa and Ohafia. This is our vision for the health sector. Very soon we will be launching our mobile theatre and laboratory, which is purposed built for us in Germany are awaiting shipment to Nigeria. Poor diagnosis or lack of it is part of why we have treatment failures, medical failures and drug abuse. We need to move our laboratories closer to the hinterland. I think it will respond to the matter of security and all of that. They can come and leave on good time, as the case may be. This is part of what we have done.
I want to speak to you about some of our completed projects in agriculture. Here again, we went back to our paradigm. We can’t be masters of everything. What is it that we can do that other people cannot do very well? We looked at oil palm. We raised about 4 million species and we have planted them. If you are very observant if you move around the city very well, you will see some palm trees that are springing up. We said our best flower is palm tree. The greenish foliage adds to the beauty and aesthetics of the city. What I’m I going to do with Hibiscus if I can plant palm tree that will give me something at the end of the day? We calculated that around this time we are going to have a glut of oil palm fruits to prepare for that we have decided to establish agro-allied cottage industry in each community. We are not doing it in clusters but in communities because we are going to reverse the drift from rural to urban centres and then create small economies in the rural centres. We are piloting with six local governments and I can attest to the fact that we are ready in six local governments now as I speak; ready for commissioning. We have an Indian, because we are using Indian technology. Once we commission that we can go into the six local governments and that will happen before the end of this year. We also have one of the biggest poultry clusters around here and we are using clustering now for poultry now because most people who fail in poultry business even young ones, it is because they don’t understand the economics of poultry farming. What you need in poultry farming is not just the poultry pen and the chicken. You also need to be able to project the feed you need. You must be able to calculate; it is an intricate calculation. You can start with your day-old chick today and then you are giving them five bags of feed-that is what they consume in one day. As they begin to grow, you scale up to seven bags. As they add weight, you scale up to 10 bags. Many people are not able to do the calculation and do the progression and know how much money they should have. If your chicken is hungry; if they are layers, they will drop eggs, they won’t lay again. Once you don’t give them the much you are supposed to give them, you will see the result immediately. When that happens you can’t make profit. The other one is that if you give people money to start poultry business and you don’t groom them properly, you will see people getting into poultry and when it is time for vaccination or inoculation, they are unable to fund it. They look at the poultry and say that well, they look healthy, and ‘God has helped me’. But one morning, you wake up and all of them have died. So, we need to put these clusters where we have a veterinary clinic, we have a store for all the feeds. All you need to do is just to come. Once you come and you have your day-old chicks, we give you a pen and all the inputs. There is an extension worker that lives there, to tell you what to do. Your duty is to be sure you come there in the morning. If you fail to come for one week, we will take over the job and do it for you. If you decide to resurface, when the chicken is sold; we take our money for feed and veterinary services and the money for taking care of the chicken on the days you did not come. That way we are able to stabilize and hold these pupil poultry farmers until they are able to stand on their own. Once we wean them from the poultry clusters, there is one at Izuru, done and dusted. The other one at Item is going to be the next. CBN was here the day we commissioned it. Our intervention in agriculture is in oil palm, poultry, cashew and we are doing a little bit of cocoa too. At some point the biggest cocoa farmer in this country was an Abia man and we think we can re-enact our prowess in cocoa farming. In the agro-allied industry, we will do rice milling, cassava processing, oil palm processing; so that we can get palm oil and get palm kernel oil too. These are our intervention in terms of agriculture.
I did not mention the flyover project, because it is yet to be completed, but it is also a project that is very dear to my heart. Going forward, I think that we are actually inching towards a place where with a little more effort our people understand that we can use the little resources that we have to create a better life. The flyover is in Aba.
You have been accused of concentrating too much on Aba to the detriment of other parts of the state; so how much time do you need to finish your dream for Aba?
It is not true that I have concentrated on Aba. If you look at the early narratives and commentaries about this administration, there was a clarion for me to go to Aba. The reason for my emphasis on Aba is nothing but simple logic. Anybody who decides not to mainstream Aba can be accused of not being logical. The challenge of government and governance is the challenge of applying limited resources to achieve your desired goal and agenda for the overall good of the people. Limited resources is the key word. At no point are you expected to have all the money that you need. How do you drive that? The way to drive it is, look at what can enable change the narrative? What is it that can help me as Governor of Abia State? That city that has 15 markets. That city that is the commercial nerve centre of Abia State and indeed the South-east; do everything to make sure that you upgrade the infrastructure and then with your left hand begin to demand that internally generated revenue be paid by the traders and by those who come to do business daily in the space. Whatever I get as IGR, I can now use it and begin to develop other parts of the state. Today, Umuahia is without a pot hole. That is not to say that more cannot be done around Umuahia. I think that Abia can stand on a tripod. If you do Ohafia very well, you do a lot in Umuahia as the state capital, but the cash cow is Aba and that is the logic behind the emphasis on Aba. Aba represents so many things to our people; the people from South-east Nigeria and the people from Abia. Probably, 95 percent of well to do Abians have a foothold in Aba, so you are serving them inadvertently. Their village may be Item, Abiriba, Ohafia or Isikwuato, but they have houses in Aba, they live here, this is where they do their business. If you ignore Aba, you are sending them to their village; to do what? I think that all parts of Abia remains my constituency, but Abia is like a South Africa, we have a Pretoria and a Cape Town.
With all of these that you have done aggressively and methodically, what is the issue with building a befitting Government House for Abia?
It is in the process. It was started by my predecessor, but we are building it. I have a style. That style is that I don’t like to bite more than I can chew, but I want to assure you that I will sleep in that Government House before I leave in 2023.
What factors do you think will likely influence the emergence of your successor? Will it be zoning or some other factor?
I love the sound of zoning, but in this order, zoning is the third. The order is, one; will of God; two, will of the people; three, zoning. Honestly, I resist the temptation to focus on that. Such thoughts can distract. Let the people who want to be governor drink Panadol for their headache. I won’t be governor again. I don’t have to think for them. Let them do their thinking.
Do you plan to go to the Senate like your successor? What is your future in politics?
Again, my political future depends solely on what God wants me to do. I like to say that I have three options. I am somebody who likes to plan out my things, but in planning my things I am better in saying the things I won’t do or the things I won’t go back to. For instance, it is easier for me to say, I would not be governor again; but going forward, I have options; it is either to go back to the classroom and begin to teach; the other one is…You know most political gladiators give too much of their time and life to politics that they forget the management of their home. Many people clock 50 without holding the first board meeting with their children. By the time politics disappoints them, they don’t see their children again. Whatever you handover to them you just notice that that is not their interest. They can’t even handle it because there was not grooming, no mentorship; nothing. Now that I am learning how to make shoes, who says I can’t be a shoemaker? The third option is a very powerful one that I can’t ignore and that is the will of God and my people. I don’t know what they want of me. A certain thought crosses my mind and I want to share it for the first time that is that what my people and history will say about me after now is more important to me than my personal ambition. My mother told me before she died, you are governor now, I am not excited because you are governor, if you know you will not be able to make a difference, and there is point in your being a governor. Unfortunately she is dead now she can’t say it again and she can’t take back her words. I am guided by such things. That is why I like to say that history is refined in the furnace of time and the product that history exudes is beyond clannish sentiments and tribal sentiments, it is also beyond hatred, avarice and envy. It is pure and a true testimony of your stewardship. I am proud to say that I will be willing to subject my future and my destiny to this crucible of history. Whatever history throws at me I will accept with equanimity and all sense of responsibility
How do you reconcile Abia Vigilante and Ebube Agu, which the South-east governors have come up with as their response to the security challenges?
Abia Vigilante has been there. There is a law. Abia Vigilante is still serving a purpose. We are retooling that is why we had that security summit which involved all our retired generals, retired policemen; former DIGs, former AIGs, everybody was there. We sat back in one place for 24 hours and said can we craft a security architecture that can serve Abia people under the circumstance and they have written their recommendations. Ebube Agu is going to be the intelligence arm of the Abia Vigilante Service, between Ebube Agu and Abia Vigilante Service is the Homeland Security. Ebube Agu will be there at the ward level and then this intelligence that will emanate from Ebube Agu, they are going to be hunters, they are going to be our palm wine tappers, they are going to be the ordinary people of today and tomorrow. The intelligence they give will be processed and that is the duty of both the Homeland Security and Abia Vigilante; which is more or less the striking arm of Ebube Agu. For us in the South-east, Ebube Agu is the umbrella for the entire region. For the nitty-gritty of our security architecture, my intention is that Abia Vigilante Service becomes my umbrella because Ebube Agu will more or less function at the rural areas, at various communities; various areas, they are there people who can climb trees and notice tell-tale signs; cigarette stubs, noodles sachets, water sachets; that tells you either somebody was kept there or people are residing in our forest. The Abia Vigilante Service is the biting arm, but we must be able to analyze the information down the ladder from bottom to the top and if Abia Vigilante Service needs the support of regular law enforcement agents like the police or the military then they will avail themselves of that.
Do you think the South-east or Igbos have played their politics well? Can the presidency be handed to them on platter of gold? Should the Igbos not have concentrated on building a party like APGA with which they can come to the centre to negotiate?
Regional parties can’t flourish here. Our people are republican. Our people are outside. If you go round Onitsha, Umuahia, Aba; how many Alhaji Kano and sons will you see? How many Kolawole and sons will you see? But go to Lagos and see Okonkwo and sons! Go to Sambisa; if they are selling spare parts in Sambisa, it must be someone from this part of the country. Our people don’t like this clannish thing because it doesn’t work for them. We have over 11 million Igbos living and working outside their homestead. If that is done, it will undermine our nature as republicans, as people who enjoy the liberty to live and work elsewhere. That couldn’t have been the template. We are not saying ‘dash’ us the presidency. We have seen in this country, there was a time they designated some states educationally disadvantaged states. Did anybody at that time say, ‘it is a lie o’! They reduced cut off points for admission into institutions for those people to see if they will catch up. Everybody kept quiet. If education is everything, only the qualified people will become permanent secretaries, what would happen? Everything stood at a standstill because we just wanted to give some people some sense of belonging. Right now, it appears that we want to shift the goal post. What is the crime of the Igbo man apart from the civil war? If we are unable to get a closure on the civil war, we will have these things happening. These impunity in the hands of our youths, burning down places and attacking police officers, is going to create ungoverned spaces and whenever there is ungoverned space for a while, it is recipe for fifth columnists. There are people who don’t love us as a country. They want this country to be dissolved. There are people I regard as dogs of war. They make money when there is war. We are just playing into the hands of this kind of people. Some people admire the growth and advancement in Rwanda, I was in an African Leadership Summit that Tony Elumelu organised; the Foreign Affairs Minister of Rwanda came in and she spoke for quite some time and concluded her comments by saying, ‘gentlemen and ladies, I flew in with Air Rwanda’. I was sitting there with Obasanjo and Elumelu, we looked at ourselves. I decided to go and see Rwanda. I went to Kigali on a Digital Africa Conference. It was there to promote this our tele-health initiative. I got to Kigali, I couldn’t pick a sachet of pure water in the gutter, not to talk of the streets. The students when they are going to school, they file towards the school bus and swipe a card on the body of the bus and the bus opens. I said, ‘what is this?’ I ran to the Genocide Museum. It was there that I understood the secret behind it, ‘Never Again’. They wrote everything. They spoke the truth. They changed their official language. They abolished state of origin and religion from their identity card. You are a Rwandan, you are not Hutu or Tutsi or whatever. They took steps to roll back all the rubbish that held them down. Even some newspapers houses that wrote things that fueled that crisis, they sent them away. They created national heroes and villains. I can tell my child, ‘do you want to behave like this person?’ Don’t do that! They had a national main frame set up that you don’t deviate from.
You can say that they are ruled by one man since then, which can’t happen here.
It is serving them. That is like copying the wrong lesson. The right lesson for us is that we are a multi-faceted society and we need to respond to this sentiments; our tribes, our culture. If you want to be our own Paul Kagame, what you need to do is not tenure elongation. It is to respond to our difference. We need to get a national narrative. What are you going to tell your child caused the civil war? He will depend on whatever story he gleans from the social media. I don’t even know, sincerely speaking. I was around during the civil war, but I don’t know, what to tell my child. Why won’t the dramatis personae come and tell us the story? What will it take? I am sorry, we won’t do that again. That was bad! If somebody tells you he is sorry, he transfers the burden on your shoulder. If you refuse to accept, you become very unpopular because once you go outside to start complaining, they will say but he has told you sorry. That is what we just need. Anybody who played whatever role, so that we can learn and we will get a closure. People don’t disappear in Africa. That is why we attach things to death. People don’t just die, it must be Amadioha that killed him for one thing or the other.
What did we do with the Justice Oputa Commission report? When you find a document you don’t sweep things under the carpet. You act on them. You make them part of your national life. What is our national narrative in this country? My greatest fear is not even about what is happening now. The bonding factor for us in this country has been crude oil for some time, now that crude oil will disappear; may be between now and the next 10 years, what will be the binding factor for us in Nigeria? Do we love this country sufficiently?
Nigeria has been orphaned. We only have tribes men. Who is a Nigerian? Nigeria as a country is looking for ownership. We have Igbo men, Yoruba men, Ibibio men, Fulani men, Hausa men; who is a Nigeria? When some of us elites speak, we betray our understanding of what we owe this society that has given us the opportunity to be educated and to serve at this level. You speak as if there is no tomorrow. There is no place in this world that only one rich man thrives. If the rest of the community is poor, they will dilute your wealth. If you increase the height of your fence to 24 feet high, you have built a very good prison; then won’t you go to the market? Won’t you go to the hospital? If you build your own hospital and your own market, won’t your doctor come to work? Who will marry your daughter? Abia is one of the few states that is feeding Primary One to Six. That is why we moved school enrolment from just 150,000 in 2015 to about 750,000 now. We started by building warehouses; food banks. I appealed to my friends who have enough food and to spare to support it. Look across your fence, that child has cousins that have not seen an egg in one month so; bring it to the food bank so that we can take it to schools. Imagine a programme where we are feeding only Primary One to Three, how can it be sustainable. The child that is Primary One has an elder brother in Primary Four who takes him across the road to school and that one has not eaten and you are eating two eggs in one day in Primary One; if a fight breaks out on the way home, you will be left to fight. That is not African. Some children will run with that egg to Primary Four for their elder brother. What are we teaching them? To eat it alone? That is not African also; so, we decided to do Primary One to Six. And that singular act reversed school enrolment. In crafting the programme, those who crafted it did not think about the benefits of the programme. Check the success of our School Feeding Programme today in Abia. The index is can be seen through, how many children we have been able to bring to school. Now that you have brought the children to school, what are you doing with them?
During the COVID-19 break, we were very resourceful. I was teaching Biology on radio. We had a radio -teaching programme. That time everybody was shouting -how do we close? How do we open? We went into Radio-Classroom. I taught Biology lessons. Others taught Mathematics. I had to do that to encourage my teachers to key in. I encouraged my students. When they hear that the Governor was going to teach Biology, everyone tuned in, even the parents
Nigeria has been orphaned. We only have tribes men. Who is a Nigerian? Nigeria as a country is looking for ownership. We have Igbo men, Yoruba men, Ibibio men, Fulani men, Hausa men; who is a Nigeria? When some of us elites speak, we betray our understanding of what we owe this society that has given us the opportunity to be educated and to serve at this level. You speak as if there is no tomorrow. There is no place in this world that only one rich man thrives. If the rest of the community is poor, they will dilute your wealth