DAVID UMAHI, SPECTACULARLY TRANSFORMING EBONYI
Gov. David UmahiIt would appear that the parents of the present governor of Ebonyi State saw into the future when they named him ‘David’. It may prophetically have been revealed to them that their son will someday take down the ‘Goliaths’ of infrastructural problems, human capital development/empowerment challenges as well as agricultural and educational stagnation of Ebonyi State. Governor David Umahi, now better known with the moniker of “The People’s Governor’, has since assuming office in May 2015, taken his beloved Ebonyi State on a super ride to transformative excellence in virtually all spheres of governance that has brought joy, fulfillment and hope to not only citizens of the state but the country at large.
Gov. David Umahi, who was first elected in 2015 to lead the State, has since proven to be a quintessential leader who not only knows what is to be done, but also how and when it should be done. His administration has provided Eboyians with well-constructed, functional and aesthetically finished roads along with requisite infrastructure, efficient water supply, a functional educational system, a creative and dependable healthcare delivery system, security of lives and property as well as massive progress he has made in the areas of agricultural and agro-allied industry with yet more to come. He has done all these as he had indeed promised the people of the state before he was voted into office. Indeed, this David is an Ekwu-Eme of no mean repute!
David Umahi’s stellar performance has not been lost on President Muhammadu Buhari. During the commissioning of an ultra-modern fertilizer blending plant in Dember 2018, the first and only in the entire South East and South South zones, the President lauded the developmental strides of Governor David Umahi. Represented by the then Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbe at the commissioning of the modern fertilizer plant at Onu Ebonyi, the President said Governor Umahi has the capacity to make Nigeria a great nation and urged Ebonyians to continue to support him. This is despite Umahi belonging to the opposition political party PDP.
Continuing, Chief Ogbe said “It is always a thing of delight to come to Ebonyi. We have been driving through Ebonyi State and not one pothole on the roads”. He added, “You know, Your Excellency, I want to say it before your people that we are very proud of you. The primary responsibility of a governor is to develop the economy of the state. Politics is nothing. Politics will come and go but when you have a good leader, lifting the economy of the State, creating jobs, saving people from hunger and disease, hold on to him and pray for him.”
He reminded Umahi that “Yesterday (the day before the launch), you won a prize in Abuja, awarded by the President himself for your contributions in Agriculture. The plaque will be delivered to you shortly. We are here to commission this plant which is the only fertilizer plant in the entire South-Eastern zone and South-South. It is going to add to the production of food in this entire region.”
Chief Ogbe intoned, “We are very proud of you for your commitment. We are thoroughly amazed with what wesee here today. Please, remember that anywhere, anytime we mention our successes in agriculture, your name comes up”. “Your rice is in every Supermarket in Abuja and in Lagos and you are one of the five Governors who have succeeded in making Nigeria almost self-sufficient in rice production. You have reduced rice import by 90 percent and we have saved some seed imports in the last 34 months to the tune of $21bn as a country”.
“We thank you, we commend you and we are here today because we have high regard for you, the Governor, and we wish you well. Continue to work. Ebonyi has become a major player in Nigeria’s economy. We have just come away from the place where you are going to build a plant for Lead-processing and many other minerals”.Concluding, President Buhari through Chief Ogbeh said it is Nigerians like Governor Umahi that can make Nigeria grow, adding “It is men like you that will make Nigeria grow.
The ‘Modern’ Face of Ebonyi
Monday Eze, a Senior Technical Assistant (Media) to the Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, affirms that the governor’s administration has succeeded in transforming Ebonyi State into a modern city state wherein life-expectancy is supposed to be very high. He continues: “Recall that when Umahi began the transformation of Ebonyi roads and other Infrastructural sectors in 2015, he was accused of turning Ebonyi State into one huge construction site without necessary human capital development programmes. To justify his serious commitment to commence the construction of flyovers, rehabilitation of urban roads, construction of rural roads and the ring road, water reticulation in the urban centers among others, Governor Umahi within three and a half years completed high profile projects, which include but not limited to three world standard 700-metre twin Trans-Sahara bridge linking Enugu and Ebonyi States with Cameroon; the Senator OffiaNwali flyover; the 14.5km Abakaliki-Afikpo road; foundation laying of the Ebonyi city mall; foundation laying of the MuhammaduBuhari bridge and unveiling of the AkanuIbiam statue.
Gov. David Umahi’s administration has also completely remodeled Abakaliki Township stadium with a fully air-conditioned VIP stand which ranks as the best in the country, a fully equipped virology centre which is the first in the entire Southeast and second in the Southern part of Nigeria to the Federal Government owned virology centre in Irrua, Edo State, and a Mushroom factory in Abakaliki. He also completed concrete-based reconstruction of over seventy 70 roads/streets; added to these are ornamental streets lights which adorn the entire road networks and even the overhead bridges, a total of five cutting edge water fountains at Udensi, Government House, Abacha, AkanuIbiam and OffiaNwali roundabouts which radiate the state capital with an aura of heavenly ambience and serenity, culminated in the rarity of crimes at nights and transformed Ebonyi State into both tourist and investment destination.
The ‘Stomach Infrastructure’ Programme (Empowerment)
In addition, Umahi rolled out status-enhancing empowerment programmes which have targeted youths, women, widows, widowers and the physically-challenged. According to NewsFront, the versatile governor ‘introduced a human angle in his administration through an impressive “Stomach Infrastructure” programme which responsibly included the empowerment of 2400 youth/hawker with 250,000 naira each to enable them to either scale up their trade or engage in farming; 250,000 naira each of 8,000 persons comprising Civil Servants women and men, 10,000 monthly stipend to widows and salaries to 85 physically challenged persons. The governor’s involvement of over 400 youth in governance as senior technical Assistants and Technical Assistants is equal to none because apart from economically empowering the people, it has quelled security tension in our ugly past and tweaked human resources for the government.’
Education and Agriculture
According to a report by Daily Times in 2018,Umahi said the government in 2017 invested 6 billion naira from its UBEC Partnership Fund with Federal Government and according to daily times, the state governor channeled the funds into the renovation and construction of new school buildings and equipping some schools. Other achievements of the state government in the education sub-sector include: the accreditation of Ikwo College of Education fully to start the award of degree; accreditation of School of Health Technology for issuance of their professional certificates; ensuring that the state maintains 10th position in National rating for WAEC and NECO Examinations; and the introduction of School Agricultural Programme in most secondary schools, among others. The governor has also introduced school evangelism and moral instructions in all our primary and secondary schools and pay monthly subvention of N200 million to Ebonyi State University and N50 million to Ikwo College of Education, respectively.
The report also stated that Umahi in 2016 banned the sale and consumption of foreign rice in Ebonyi State and in 2017, when he placed the 2018 budget bill before the Ebonyi State Assembly, he spoke on his administration’s achievements in the area of agricultural development stating; “in keeping with our promise of making Ebonyi State the number one economy through agricultural revolution, we are almost there, adding that “this time last year, Ebonyians paid between 10,000 naira and 12,000 naira for a bushel of rice. But today, because we have kept faith with our promise, Ebonyians today are paying just 5,000 naira for a bushel of rice, a reduction of more than 50%. And yet we still have plenty more to do in this area; the price of chicken must come down to 1,500 naira.”
He also listed some of his achievements in agriculture in 2017 to include “purchase of three modern rice mills installed parboiling units of machines in the rice mills at Ikwo, Izzi and OsoEdda, advanced rice production to over 65,000 hectares in the state; purchased four cassava processing machines issuing of loans of over N2.5 billion to farmers, expansion of fertilizer plant by building two new ware-houses and purchased a brand new fertilizer plant; launching of one-man one-hectare programme; purchase of over 50 tractors to help our farmers, among others.”
Earlier in October 2019, Umahi ordered that the Abakpa Main Market would now be designated as the Ebonyi State Fruits and Vegetable Market from January 10, 2020.According to Monday Eze, the international market has potential to divert the humongous international and national trade currents that flow along the African trans-Saharan highway into Ebonyi State.
In the words of Eze, the ultimate goal of Umahism, which is the philosophical under-pinning of Umahi’s politics, is to further secure the welfare and increase life-expectancy of Ebonyi people. Umahism is a better and autochthonous form of democracy, which was designed to administer comprehensive indices of good governance to the people for the well-being of the total man.
With a tacit, though subtle endorsement by President Buhari and rapturous support of teeming fans in Ebonyi, citizens East of the Niger and Nigerians across the divide, Gov. David Umahi may well be the candidate to beat when presidential leadership duty finally beckons on Eastern Nigeria!
Roads and Flyovers in Ebonyi….