By Paul Kalu

Before the Election of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, and his subsequent inauguration as the Governor of Abia State in 2015, the state civil service and Parastatals were emersed in months of unpaid salaries, allowances, pension, and gratuity. This became a huge challenge to the young administration of Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu.

Abia State University Teaching Hospital was on industrial strike then. Negotiations between the management board, the staff's Unions of the hospital, NMA and the State government saw to the immediate clearing of the ten months salary outstanding owed them just in one day. With the constant payment of subvention to the institution, one had expected that they will be up and doing in payment of salaries.

Same was the case of AbiaPoly that took a loan of about 2Billion naira from the First bank and was unable to pay which left them in a situation of paying heavily in loan servicing monthly. But like ABSUTH case, the Governor approved the immediate buy over of the loan by the State government which relieved them of the burden of the loan so as to be able to meet their salary payment responsibilities. In furtherance of his support, the Governor ensured constant payment of subvention to them to assist them financially irrespective of the fact that they generate revenue through school fees and other charges they place on their students.

Despite all these steps by the Governor of Abia state to see to the effective running of the institutions, it seems that the Parastatals of the State government were bent on bringing shame to the government by their mismanagement of fund which resulted to many months of unpaid salaries to their staffs.

The Governor set up committees that looked into the affairs of some parastatals to have first-hand knowledge of what was going on, and the discovery of the institutional rots in these parastatals is what informed the formation of the Institutional reform Committee by the Governor.

Earlier this year, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu gave the Boards and Management of ailing Parastatals three months to review their operations and start implementing reforms that will see to the payment of staffs salaries as at when due or face being sanctioned.

At the expiration of the grace period, HMB, ABSUTH, and ASUBEB became the first victim of that change the Governor was poised to bring. He further reviewed the activities of many other parastatals and discovered that an Institutional reform is the only solution to the rot in Abia parastatals and civil service, hence the desolation of over 32 boards of Parastatals and  inauguration of the Reform Committee whose job is to critically review these parastatals and make recommendations that will bring the needed reforms and position them for effectiveness.

This brings hope to the massive cry of Abians who earnestly desires to see a more effective Education system in Abia state. A system where secondary school teachers are paid regularly the same as their Primary school's counterpart and in turn result in improved service delivery by the teachers.

The reform is expected to see the only state-owned Polytechnic (ABIAPOLY) return to its glorious state. Make no mistake about it, we expect to see a great reduction in the workforce there. How can an institution without boarding facilities, an institution that is fenced and has only two entrances have over NINETY gatemen in its payroll? How do you explain the same school with a medical facility that can pass for a dispensary have about 4 Consultant Doctors, Registered Nurses, and even Midwives? What special medical cases do they handle other than cases of fever, headache, mensuration pain and at times Asthmatic attacks which is common in such institutions? And remember that school medical facility is designed to just give first aid while the patient is referred to the nearest Hospital for better medical care if need be.

We should also expect to see a total overhauling of institutions like Health Management board Secondary Education Management Board, Abia State College of Health  Aba, Abia State College of Education Technical, Arochukwu and many others.

This is the time for Governor Okezie to bring an Institutional change that will correct the rot in the system and reposition Abia for both Educational, Economic, Technical and social dominance of this nation.

Presently the state has been leading in the Education sector as evident in their back-back winning of Best State in WAEC for that past four years. And just three days ago JAMB registrar announced that two Abia candidates emerged overall best and second best in the just-released Jamb result.

The State has also won several awards from the Presidency, NGOs, international bodies, Medial houses for her outstanding stride in Trade and commerce and the promotion of Made In Aba products.

It is safe to say that the best of Abia is about to manifest. Let's all join hand and support the Governor to fully implement these reforms as proposed and return our state to its glorious state.

Paul writes from Aba

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