I humbly welcome each and every one of you to this media parley; and thank you for honoring the invitation to be here today, and at this time, regardless of your personal and professional schedules. Your presence here portrays, first of all, the love you have for the state – our dear Abia. Your presence also shows that you believe it is possible to renew, transform, redeem and cleanse our dear Abia State. I appreciate your first show of confidence and immediately promise that your collective trust for me will not be misplaced.
Permit me to introduce myself to you once more. I am Sunday Ndukwo Onuoha. I joined the ministry at a very young age in 1983. A consecrated Bishop of the Methodist Church Nigeria in 2006, having served as the first Bishop of Evangelism at the Lagos Headquarters for (how many years?) between (when and when?). I hold a Doctorate Degree from the Southern Methodist University (SMU), after my Masters Degree from the same institution, and then studied Infrastructural Development at Harvard University.
You can describe me as a humble servant of God, and of the faith communities represented in and around Abia State. I am an Administrator, Educationist, Technocrat and an Entrepreneur. Philanthropy is a deep passion close to my heart, as I have championed the cause of the indigent, the voiceless, and the disadvantaged; not just from a sense of duty, but from a sense of service to God, without which my worship and reverence of the Almighty would be incomplete.
People who know me closely call me “the Bishop of the Masses”, a name I may have earned from the way and manner I reach out, look out for, and do my best to address the core needs that will improve the people around me. For I believe that humanity feel pain and loss the same way; and regardless of our strata in the ladder called society, our hierarchy of needs are still basic and mundane.
REASON FOR THIS MEDIA PARLEY
My party leaders, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen of the press, you may recall that a few months ago, a group called Cleanse and Clean Abia Group (CACAG) issued a press release demanding that I make myself available to run for the office of the Governor of Abia State in the forthcoming 2023 Abia Governorship Election. That call by Cleanse and Clean Abia Group (CACAG) ; opened up as it were, a floodgate of similar calls by Abia stakeholders, eminent personalities, market women, artisans, youths, student groups, Ndi Abia in Diaspora and friends of Abia State. At first, I went about my life ignoring the calls, the burden of leadership, and what I thought may mean distractions.
A personal friend and fellow Bishop, asked me to look beyond the calls and see the opportunity in addressing the real needs of Abians.
I have retreated into deep prayerful thoughts; I have given this a series of personal reflections, I have consulted widely and held meetings with a vast selection of stakeholders; and I have found out that Ndi Abia want change, and a re-direction to the path of development, a redeeming from the old trends of governance, and a cleansing that will ensure ourselves and our children can dance to the song of hope and thanksgiving.
I had humbly expressed my hesitations to a few close friends, considering to hearken to the desire of Ndi Abia; and immediately, I gave my nod and consent, a group of friends and associates contributed funds and purchased my Governorship Nomination and Expression of Interest Form. As if pushing me from the precipice, this kind gesture humbled me and at the same time gave me the assurance that I have the support of the critical mass of Ndi Abia in this gubernatorial journey. To all who contributed and still contribute time, money, energy and resources for this task, I assure you that I do not take your support for granted.
Change is possible, but it is a journey we all must be resolute to take. Unanimous in our believe that your call for me to contest, will not be wasted. We will win together, and hold hands in victory, as I walk with you to lead our dear Abia state to positive transformation.
Without sounding immodest, I am that Governor ndi Abia have been praying for. I have garnered wealth of experience in administration, business, public and private sector, of course, in the religious sector, which is my place of primary assignment, calling and ministry. Let me be the balm and solution to the challenges in Abia State.
Over the years, we have failed as a people to identify leaders who can heal our land – I am here to serve ndi Abia with all my strength and knowledge. Over the years, we have failed as a people to identify and utilize our abundant human resources – I am that unifier that will galvanize ndi Abia professionals for the common good of our people.
I will not mince words in saying this – this is not the time to sound ‘politically correct’, rather it is time to address the pains and sufferings of our people which is what compelled me to join the race. Bishop Desmond Tutu once told me. . . “Sunday if African Faith leaders and men of character do not actively participate in politics, Africa will soon be governed by idiots”. We can do better in Abia, if we all rise up and say “E Don Do!”.
Today, I wish to officially announce that I am the Gubernatorial Aspirant of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), a political party which is currently the 3rd largest political party in Nigeria with regards to national spread and the 4th political party in Nigeria with regard to the number of elected positions occupied by ADC in Nigeria.
Interestingly, the motto of ADC is “Arise and Shine”, and it personally resonates with me because the Christian scriptures in Mathew 5:14 says that a light cannot be hidden under a bushel; and this is synonymous with our joint desire to arise, reclaim, transform and restore the shining light of our dear State, Abia, as the city on a hill.
The mission, vision, manifesto and core values of ADC is in tandem with our desire to enthrone the Abia State of our dreams. Today too, I will equally share with you a brief summary of the Abia of my dream; perhaps it will resonate with you too as you envision it in your mind’s-eye.
THE ABIA OF MY DREAM!
Abia State was created on the 27th day of August, 1991. According to the 2006 census, Abia State population is estimated to be about three to four million people. Abia State is blessed with large deposit of oil, gas and other mineral resources. Abia State is blessed with abundant human resources. Over the years, the challenge has been how to elect a leader who can transform and restore the glory of Abia State as God’s own State. Our leadership recruitment process has been wrongly driven. The hour has come to liberate Abia State. The time is now. Ndi Abia, history beckons!
Having crisscrossed all parts of Abia State, I can humbly tell you that I know the issues, problems and challenges amongst my people. I have sat and talked to, and sometimes felt the ache of a people who want nothing more than a change from the bleak status-quo.
After a solemn mediation about our dear State, I have developed and summarized an 11 -point agenda which covers all critical sectors of our life as a people, and I believe that addressing these needs will transform this city as we hoist our light high on the hilltop and shine proudly like we are truly meant to.
These 11-point agenda are:
1. Security and Social Welfare
2. Digital Economy and Information Technology Transformation
3. Transparency and Accountability
4. International Relations/Development Agencies
5. Job Creation/Youth and Women Empowerment
6. Agriculture and Rural Development
7. Participatory Governance
8. Education for sustainable development
9. Accessible Basic Health for All
10. Trade and Commerce
11. Faith Community for Development
Ladies and gentlemen, I take these 11-point agenda as my covenant and my social contract with Ndi Abia.
First, the primary essence of governance is the security and welfare of the people. It is a key score-card for governments globally. This is because a working economy must be propelled by people whose lives, dreams and aspirations are secured and well protected. Our immediate aim will be to provide an all-rounded secure package by first minimizing the risk of insecurity on our economy in Abia.
Closely tied to this is to ensure an easy and accessible social services welfare scheme for the assistance of disadvantaged groups, as we finetune ways to critically address food security for our people.
With a secure Abia state, I and my team shall work in creating a digital economy and information technological transformation. For example, we are going to create a technology hub that will make Abia State the Silicon Valley of Nigeria. We shall digitize the way we trade in Ariaria and the way government functions, thus opening up our State to the huge benefits accruable in an ever-growing digital world.
To achieve these dreams, there is need for transparency and accountability. If elected as Governor, I shall lead the charge for transparency and accountability. I shall lead by example and ensure due process in all affairs of state. You can count on Sunday Ndukwo Onuoha, God being my witness, to stretch the value of our resources, and be open in my stewardship, to my people.
We need the collaboration and partnership of well-meaning international bodies, development agencies, Ndi Abia in diaspora, all men and women of goodwill as we explore the poverty challenges facing our state. Therefore, we shall operate a participatory system of Governance which provides room to analyze your ideas and suggestions, as we consider the interconnection between politics, economy and the law. Regardless of one’s political/faith leanings or place of origin, my team and I shall never discriminate or create room for discord.
Job Creation and Youths/Women Empowerment, will be another milestone on our scorecard. We will ensure the provision of new opportunities for paid employment, especially for our youths, women, children and the disabled community. We will strive to create enabling business environments to support job creation, enhance youth empowerment, and facilitate skill acquisition opportunities for unemployed youths and women, while providing start up grants/equipments for each and every trainee.
On Agriculture and rural development; when elected as the Governor of Abia State, I and my team shall bring back the golden days of Agricultural revolution championed by our dear late Dr. Michael Iheonukara Okpara. We shall reintroduce Agricultural extension workers; introduce mechanized farming, provide modern day facilities and infrastructure in our rural communities. This will stem the tide of rural-urban migration and increase participation of ndi Abia in Agriculture.
The Abia of my dream will provide quality, accessible and subsidized education (SDG 4); because we recognize that with education, we make an upward socioeconomic mobility that is a key to escaping poverty. Our out-of-school youths litter the streets; it is time we cure the eyesore these has become to us, and I shall declare a state of emergency on education in Abia, to ensure that every child of school going age must be in school. Never before have so many children been out of school at the same time, disrupting learning and upending lives, especially the most vulnerable and marginalized.
I think it is enough! E don do!
To address the poor state of health management in Abia, we will implement a special social contract for health development aimed at helping us achieve the health targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG3) by the year 2030. It will be our mandate to reduce the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) to less than less 200 per 100,000 Live Births. We will do everything possible to prevent our mothers and wives from dying while trying to give life. To reduce neonatal mortality rate and under five-year old mortality rate; to strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol.
To achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and empower every resident in Abia State to be able to purchase health services through a universal MANDATORY HEALTH INSURANCE. All of these, while ensuring that every Primary Health Center (PHC) is well equipped with medical equipments, resident Doctors and Nurses. In due time, I shall publicize the full details of our full social contract on health development for Abia.
In the area of Trade and Commerce, I shall restore the glorious days of Aba, the commercial nerve center of Abia State. I will do this with intentional and deliberate approach which shall include: evacuating the age long heaps of waste in Aba, reconstruct the entire Aba roads with proper drainage channels, light up Aba and bring back night life/trading, ensure adequate security, provide grants for upcoming entrepreneurs and create enabling circumstances and environment for business to thrive in the entire Abia State.
Evidently, a faith community for development is necessary in our quest to transform Abia state. Therefore, when given the mandate to lead ndi Abia, I and my team shall nurture a faith community, a community that believes that a functional, caring and responsible government is possible. This will require value reorientation, awareness, and social orientation. It will also require accountability and transparency in sharing the dividends of democracy to ndi Abia. It will require honesty on the part of government. With these in place, ndi Abia will renew their faith in governance and join hands with the government for the benefit of all. I pledge to do all these when given the mandate to lead our people.
This is just a glimpse into the many milestones I want to achieve with ndi Abia. In few months time, we shall invite you to witness the unveiling of our manifesto which embodies these 11-point agenda elaboarately.
Ladies and Gentlemen, let me thank each and every one of you for the patience so far. I pray that God will lead each of you safely to your various destinations. I am grateful for the honor you accord me.
God Bless Ndi Abia.
Blessings to one and all!
Bishop Dr. Sunday Ndukwo Onuoha