Politics hosts the ability to symbolize both the best and worst notions of human pursuits.
At its finest, it can be about pushing noble ideals for improving our common good; influencing people to reshape society for the better. At its worst, it can mean corruption, coercion, misrepresentation and division. Politics has the ability to tear apart friendships, families, even our country and perhaps our State of Abia, torn out of often-intangible belief and from the cusp of unlimited potential.
Nigeria’s Federal elections will no doubt be hotly contested in February of 2015, subsequently to be placed under a geopolitical microscope as a barometer indicating how far we’ve come in our newfound role as economic steward of Africa. Beyond it, we witness and serve as hosts to Gubernatorial and Senatorial campaigns, those that indicate how free and fair our somewhat autonomous regions truly are and will be.
Ahead of these determinations, the question remains – can we show tolerance and bipartisanship when the chips are down and votes are cast?
I believe Abia State is at the heart of the electoral process in Nigeria today. “God’s Own State” is indicative of how greatly we’ve lost, how far we have yet to climb and how much we need to commonly realize regarding our current trajectory and the massive undertaking that will need to take place in order to turn our Capital of Aba in to Nigeria’s version of shimmering Dubai, (as so I’ve the comparison has been made).
Contrastingly, Abia’s ‘state’ is presently one of continued disarray. Our faiths are high, but our confidence in our ascendancy has dwindled. Suffrage looms large in the hearts of the State’s citizenries, unemployment rates climbing in a region where many across the world would once attribute prospects for affluence and prosperity in the abundance of oil wealth and human capital endowed upon our South.
One can simply turn to neighboring Akwa Ibom State and take in the work executed to reinvigorate Uyo with admiration and hope. We see before us the continued development of roads, e-libraries and airports and at such a crossroads when compared to our circumstances, must pause and reflect on where Abia must go from here.
Let us begin with education. We need a holistic educative curriculum and harmoniously, to engage international non-governmental organizations and corporations with dedicated social responsibility practices alike, so as to ensure not only that their integration is mutually beneficial, but that our future is well tended through their support.
Let us also ensure our pupils can arrive at school each and every day, on time and safely. This means a fundamental priority-shift and a precedent in Southern Nigeria, so as to ensure the very roads that our families, our entrepreneurs and our children travel upon are sturdy, waterproof, interconnected and symbolize the unity of our country and its role as a major port for access to the South, a transportation thruway for our nation and hub for ECOWAS trade.
Agriculture was a top priority of mine in my former role as Governor. The provision of basic food and drink is so fundamental to our lives and it is haphazard to ignore that Abia is blessed with fertile land suitable for cultivation, much like subsistence farming has been the mainstay of Bende.
When I came in to office, ‘agribusiness’ was not exploited to its full potential, and many farmers had not gone into commercial practice. So, I promised a policy to transform farming into an engine of development, restoring pride and the positioning of the sector as a pillar of our economy.
Leadership in Dubai, serving as a jewel of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), once had a complicated road ahead of it while seeking to modernize the villages it collectively once was in to the amalgamated commercial behemoth it is today. They listened to both its citizenry and its target market during this sensitive process, facilitating opportunity for true prosperity while empowering the traditions, cultures and individual voices of those who choose to consider it home.
For our State, listening is perhaps the most important facet of modern-day polity and good governance. I attribute my success in business, much like my accomplishments in the political arena, to the ability of my team to see a need and fill it, all the while accepting and adopting ideas brought to our attention from perhaps the most innovative populous in the world.
There is a reason big business comes to Nigeria first to test its mettle – Nigerians and yes, Abians are inherently forthcoming, personable and idealists at heart.
We must continue to listen and learn. We must act selflessly, in the name of community and in the face of adversity. We must be accountable for our actions and our ideas. We must connect our cities throughout our State via infrastructure, with the knowledge that today, the online arena is included in this category, for it is a true platform for empowerment; the facilitation of steady electricity in this regard is ever more pertinent a primacy.
I have faith in Aba, confidence in Abia State and ambitions for Nigeria. Beyond excuses, beyond mudslinging and beyond finger pointing, we must act professionally and set the example for the change we wish to bring to our world. For our world is not across the pond in the desert or in the high rises of the cosmopolitan bureaucracy of the west. It is in our homes, around our kitchen tables and in the faces of Abia’s next generation.
Let us show the world that we are ready and make Abia for them and ourselves a symbol of Nigeria’s change to come.