Two frontline governorship candidates on Wednesday took turns to reel out their programmes designed to tackle the development challenges in Abia when elected.
They spoke at the 2023 Governorship Candidates Interface Forum organised by the state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Umuahia.
The candidates agreed that industrialisation and poverty reduction were key to developing Abia’s economy and fighting against insecurity.
Uche Ikonne of PDP said industrialisation would be the cornerstone of his administration, promising to ensure a steady power supply.
“We have a well-articulated programme for industrialising the state, and electricity is key to achieving it. This is why Governor Okezie Ikpeazu’s administration has partnered Geometric Power to provide uninterrupted power to nine local government areas of the state. Electricity cannot be nationalised,” Mr Ikonne explained. “We need to unbundle the distribution company as done in the telecom sector to make it efficient.”
Also, Labour Party gubernatorial candidate Alex Otti said he would pursue industrialisation through an effective public-private partnership model if elected.
“I will lead from the front and ensure that businesses that are set up through PPP are properly and efficiently managed. We are not going to share money, which has been the tradition. We will rather encourage entrepreneurs to have access to capital to own their businesses, create wealth and jobs,” stated Mr Otti.
He added, “If there is optimal utilisation of the IGR with N60 billion annual federal allocation, the condition of the state would not be so deplorable,” noting that “economy works with money and there can only be effective demand when people have money to pay for goods and services.”
He promised to clear the arrears of unpaid salaries and pensions within the six months of his assumption of office, “even if it means to borrow.”
Mr Otti said the huge debt owed by the state, amounting to between N160 billion and N190 billion, could be negotiated with the creditors for a possible means to liquidate it.