ABIA DEBATE ENDS IN FIASCO:
Ikpeazu and Otti engage each other in war of words.
Chinwe Ugele, Umuahia.
The 2019 debate of the gubernatorial candidates of some select political parties in Abia state has ended in a fight involving the security of the governor and some students of Abia state University, Uturu.
The debate which lasted for 2 hours had in attendance, the candidates of the PDP, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, the APGA, Dr. Alex Otti, the Accord party, Mr. Emeka Uwakolam and the SDP, Dr. Blessing Nwagba.
Payment of salaries.
It was the opinion of the three candidates other than that of the PDP, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu that the incumbent has not done enough to address the deficit of roads in Abia state.
For Alex Otti of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, Abia state government under Ikpeazu has a total of 59 roads of 79.38km, saying that the standard of the roads determine the cost.
In response, the People’s Democratic Party’s candidate, Okezie Ikpeazu, said his government is not adopting any state’s methodology in road construction but considering the topography of the areas.
He said his government has in four years done more roads than any other government had done in the past in the state. In a bid to further defend his government, the governor went on to indict his party by saying that no road in the state has lasted more than 10years.
“I plan to do roads that will outlive my reign, so that my successor will not have problems with roads.”
On her part, Blessing Nwagba of the Social Democratic Party, agreed that some roads have been fixed, but added that there could have been a lot more if the resources were adequately managed.
The candidates were taken up on the economy where they extensively gave insights into how they plan to take the state out of its present state.
Ikpeazu believes that by 2030, the population of Abia state would have doubled and so would need a drastic measure to keep going. He recommended two options for the state; Agriculture and Industrialization, saying he was not running the government for election, but for the next generation. He also announced that his government is the first to be constructing a fly over in the state.
The project is still on going but Otti had a question for the governor who had made a statement concerning it.
I just want to know if the governor was still running for a second term since the flyover project was not yet completed.
Ikpeazu answered in the affirmative that he was seeking re-election, adding he was unable to complete the flyover because he had used part of the money meant for it to construct a bridge in Arochukwu.
The present administration had it raw and tough from the candidates who spared nothing at rubbing it in their face that the government has failed in its economic policies by failing to pay salaries. The candidates say poor management of the resources available to the government is the major problem the state has and suggested ways to address the situation.
Pay Workers to jumpstart the Economy.
APGA’s candidate is of the view that the economy of the state needs to be stimulated through prompt payment of salaries and went ahead to explain that non payment of salaries means shutting down the state’s economy.
He blamed the government for condoning illegality and fraud in the agencies by failing to sack erring officers who have failed to follow government’s orders.
“ There is a saying that the fish gets rotten from the head, when there is a problem, look at the head, government has failed,” Otti said.
The Accord Party’s candidate, corroborated his APGA counterpart by describing the scenario as a “leadership failure”, and added that governance is a serious business that requires honesty, commitment and transparency. He also told the governor to provide money to parents to cook food for their children through payment of salaries instead of the school feeding.
In his words, “I will not earn a kobo until all Abia workers are fully paid.” There is an institutional failure in Abia state that is why government is unable to fire erring workers”.
The candidates were asked questions on education, Agriculture and social welfare.
At the end of the debate, the candidates were presented with certificates of participation.
Meanwhile, some governorship candidates who were excluded from the debate have complained about their exclusion.
The candidate of the Young Progressive Party, Mr. Joseph Nkoro said he was not invited for the debate and even at that still arrived the venue early to see if they will be included but that effort also failed.
He accused the organisers of favouritism and charging high fees for them to participate.
After the debate had been concluded, some persons identified as students of Abia state University, Uturu had an encounter with the governor’s convoy at the gate of Abia hotel, venue for the exercise which resulted to serious chaos and led to shooting of guns and opening teargas by the operatives.
A lot of people who were at the premises at the time all scampered for safety as fast as they could until the situation was brought under control. The hoodlums did not spare the seats in the hall as well as some valuable items there.