Ikonne’s Obsession For  New Abia Where Everyone Is A Participant


To many, the answer to why Professor Uche Ikonne is the best candidate for Abia State in the 2023 election Is beginning to unveil as the erudite don and university administrator speaks on his education and health agenda for God’s Own State. He further enunciates what he will do differently. ROLAND OGBONNAYA writes

Those who know him quite closely would testify that Prof Ikonne is a game changer in more ways than one. This attribute immediately manifested when he threw his hat into the ring to contest for the Abia State governorship seat on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
When the opposition is busy hurling mud at him to tar or diminish his image, he has been busy consulting and consolidating his vision of a new Abia State. The exceptional vision, he sensationally employed to transform Abia State University (ABSU) from “a gutter inclined arena called the university to a nationally acclaimed tertiary institution of learning.”
Prof Ikonne, according to information in the public domain changed the ABSU narratives. First, he introduced a slogan which he tagged ” Our Story Must Change”. The mantra dramatically changed ABSU from absurdity to cohesion and other laudable achievements. The impact of Our Story Must Change, according to some academics, was multiple as it frankly brought out the best in all the academic, and non-academic workers and students as well. This way, he eliminated unwanted and needless bureaucracy in the school’s administration but retrained it where necessary.
To prove that he doesn’t believe in recalcitrant behaviour, Ikonne, they argued, made sure that complacent workers were made to wake up from their apparent slumber or face the music. For instance, there was strict adherence to time and schedules in the University during his administration as vice chancellor. There was nothing like African or Nigerian time: it became a thing of the past. The anthem then was “time is money,” Saturday INDEPENDENT was told recently.
Another important hallmark of Ikonne’s tenure as VC of ABSU was that students were respected and encouraged to work harder as they were given the leverage to access their scripts and also demand justice against lecturers’ molestation and intimidation. With this in place, lecturers who might have wished to misbehave while handling the student’s scripts were entirely discouraged from doing so. At the same time, since anybody could access the scripts, students who depended on the odious practice of “sorting” were equally discouraged. And so, it was working and working for both the lecturers and the students.
Quite commendably, during his period at the University, the ugly menace of cultism was fought to submission as it was reduced drastically in ABSU. Ikonne was at the forefront of the courageous battle against cultism in ABSU. Before his arrival as the VC, the University was always in the news for the wrong reasons of cultism menace. Lifeless bodies and headless bodies of students and workers of ABSU used to be the only trending news wafting out from the campus and well reported in the media, particularly, on social media platforms.
With the foregoing, his supporters believe that it’s a simple demonstration that Ikonne is coming to Abia to add value to the system.
A takeaway from his interaction with the Saturday INDEPENDENT in his country home in Agburuike, Nsulu, Isisala Ngwa North of Abia State, Ikonne is poised to make Aba a truly industrial hub and also lift Umuahia as a truly befitting capital for Abia.
He also recognises that education remains Abia’s biggest industry at a time quality education is becoming a scarce commodity in Nigeria. He believes that when the majority of the population has unhindered access to quality education, the tedious task of governance becomes easy. “An uneducated individual is easy to manipulate, he is remembered mostly during periodic elections just like we’re approaching another election year.”
This becomes a concern when a survey conducted by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) showed that Nigeria is occupying an infamous position as the country with the highest number of out-of-school in the world. According to UNICEF, this figure increased from 10.5 million to 13.2 million.
It is common knowledge that lack of access to education affects the nation’s economic growth. With this hindsight, Ikonne, an erudite scholar and professor of optometry is fully aware of the dangers of a lack of quality education.
With the belief that one of the ways of fast-tracking the development of the state is through quality education. And that’s why education and human capital development with a focus on improving life expectancy, per capita income and overall quality of life is part of the five-point agenda of his administration if given the opportunity by the Abia electorate.
“I want to emphasize quality education in terms of human capital development. What I mean is what education has to do with critical thinking for the youths.
“We will create an atmosphere of learning in an environment of technology. Some of them can get into artificial intelligence, robotic engineering, even youths at secondary school level”.
“My government will prioritise overall teachers’ welfare from primary and secondary schools to tertiary institutions in terms of salary payments, promotion and other emoluments and make research works the bedrock for innovations and academic growth to produce the desired results. Having been in this clime and reaching my zenith as a Vice Chancellor in a citadel of learning, motivation is key in this sector,” he emphasised.
Prioritising the state’s health sector is part of his agenda to transform Abia. In a situation where leaders have made the health care system nonfunctional while engaging in medical tourism abroad with their families, leaving the rest to die of ailments that could have been handled even at the primary health care centre. For Prof Ikonne things cannot continue that way in the health sector.
He believes that any responsible government must properly address the health needs of its citizens by strengthening the health systems and making health care affordable to low and middle-income earners.
As one who has operated in the sector over the years and knows where the shoe pinches, if elected, he said his government will be obligated to improve the efficiency of “our health establishments and give our medical professionals the right encouragement to carry out public health functions by provisioning vital infrastructure and access to healthcare.”
Despite the government’s adequate financing and strictly ensuring service delivery, he will partner with the private sector, non-governmental organisations, and charitable institutions to protect the social role of government in health development.
Ikonne’s PDP government also promised to prioritise free and quality access to health care for pregnant women, children, and aged senior citizens without having them access health care from a far distance. This he further believes will greatly improve the living standards of Abians, especially those living in rural areas.
Meanwhile prominent Abians including different professional has continued to attest to their capacity and competence thereby expressing confidence in the person of Prof. Ikonne including his ingenuity in leadership.
Prof. Ikonne has been described as a principled leader, right people-focused, who has the public service credentials to lead Abia at a critical time when the nation needs experienced, skilful, stable hands at the helm.
Humble and committed, the gubernatorial candidate has continued to appreciate the people in the course of his consultation across the state. All he’s asking for is support and solidarity.
He acknowledges the political relevance of all Abians in the state’s political history, stating Abian’s commitment to democracy.
While acknowledging the reliability of ndi Abia when a group from Bende Local Government Council visited him, he cited his humble contributions to them in the various positions he has held, with a promise to do more. He also used the opportunity to reiterate the plans of his administration, which is to institute participatory governance, where every Abian must be involved in the leadership of the state.







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