On May 29, 2015, about two and half years ago, His Excellency, Chief (Dr.) David Nweze Umahi was inaugurated as the third democratically elected governor of Ebonyi State. The coincidence of Governor Umahi’s inauguration with the onset of the most inclement economic recession in the history of Ebonyi State made the hope of payment of Ebonyi workers’ salaries a mirage. The recession also reduced the promise of even a single capital project to mere wishful thinking.
Umahi, a quintessential democrat imbued with the wisdom of King Solomon, demonstrated his realistic approach to leadership by engaging the organised labour in the state in a roundtable discussion. It was during that discussion that an agreement was reached to bring the outrageous wage bill within the realm of feasibility to enable Umahi build the new and better Ebonyi State, which he had promised Ebonyi people.
With this clog cleared, the Divine Mandate administration of Governor Umahi hit the ground running investing every joule of its energy, the comfort of its top functionaries and every resource at its disposal in Governor Umahi’s avowed bid to develop Ebonyi State. Since then, Governor Umahi in pursuit of his covenant with God to prosper Ebonyi State through the word of God has been unrelenting.
The direct consequence of this divine anchorage is that while other state administrations drift under economic recession, Umahi’s administration has been stable. Within two and half years, Umahi has completed high profile projects which include two standard 700 metre twin overhead bridges at Presco (now Offia Nwali junction) and Akanu Ibiam roundabout, and a pedestrian crossover bridge at Ebonyi State University gate.
All these projects are on the ever-busy Trans-Saharan highway. The administration has also completed concrete – based reconstruction of over 70 roads/streets with a total distance of 500 kilometres, which make up the internal road network of Abakaliki municipality, the 23.5 kilometre Hilltop-Nwofe Agbaja road, the 18.5 kilometre Nkwegu – FUNAIroad; intervened in the reconstruction of federal roads, which include the 14.5 kilometre section of Abakaliki-Afikpo highway and the 15.5 kilometre Nigercem road; other completed projects include the completely remodeled Abakaliki Township stadium with a fully air-conditioned VIP stand which ranks as the best in the country, a fully-equiped Virology centre which is the first in the entire South-East and second in the southern part of Nigeria to the Federal Government-owned Virology center in Irrua, Edo State; and a mushroom factory in Abakaliki. All these projects will be commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari in his first official working visit to Ebonyi State, nay south eastern Nigeria scheduled to hold on Tuesday November 14.
The President will round off his monumental visit to Ebonyi State by laying the foundation stone of Ebonyi City Mall, which is modeled after the famous Dubai Mall. It will be recalled that just last week [precisely on Tuesday November 7, former President Olusegun Obasanjo commissioned a 100 KVA solar farm and power house as well as the ultra-modern bus stop with a relaxation centre at Ebonyi State University gate, Abakaliki. Besides that long list of completed projects which the President will commission, Umahi whose project supervision schedule is as unpredictable as the second coming of Christ has other on-going projects like the third 700 meter twin overhead bridge at the International Market junction, the 24.5 kilometre Amasiri-Okposi-Uburu [federal] road, a minimum of 15 kilometre concrete – based roads across the 13 Local Government Areas and streetlights at the respective council secretariats. Presently, work is being fast-tracked on the waste-processing plant at Umuoghara, where Obasanjo danced for joy on November 7.
Governor Umahi’s insatiable crave to build a modern and technologically advanced Ebonyi State made his administration to actively participate in the construction of a 32KW Demonstration Biomass Gasification Power Plant in collaboration with UNIDO at UNIDO Industrial Cluster Ngbo, Ohaukwu LGA. In pursuit of his great vision for Ebonyi State, Umahi has motivated Ebonyi trained engineers into the fabrication of 100KW biomass gasification power plant at the Technical and Vocational Education Workshop of Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki.
A plan for the replication of biomass gasification power plants in rice clusters in different parts of the state has been concluded by the Divine Mandate administration of Governor Umahi. These and the solar power house will offer Ebonyi people alternative access routes to energy or power supply.
Governor Umahi introduced a human angle to his administration by rolling out an impressive “stomach infrastructure” programme which highlights included the empowerment of 2400 youths/hawkers with N250,000 each to enable them to either trade or farm; N250,000 to each of the 8,000 persons comprising civil servants, women and men; N10,000 monthly stipend to widows and salaries for 85 physically challenged persons. Umahi’s involvement of about 400 youths in governance as Senior Technical Assistants and Technical Assistants is legendary because apart from economically empowering the people, it has buried security tension in our ugly past and created a human resources pool for the government.
Governor Umahi added another pep to his overcrowded scorecard when he hosted Ebonyi old people and senior citizens on October 17, 2016 in a first-of-its-kind old people’s party during which the old men and women were cared for and empowered by the governor.
This event was repeated this year, thus becoming an annual event. Ebonyi is one of the nine states in Nigeria where workers have never been owed salaries. Added to this is that it is only in Ebonyi State under Umahi that workers are paid annual mega bonuses in Nigeria.
The bonuses are known as 13th month salaries in Ebonyi labour parlance. At a time when all state universities were increasing their tuition fees, Umahi reduced the fees of Ebonyi State University and resumed sponsorship of Ebonyi State foreign scholarship programme. The contributions of Her Excellency, Chief (Mrs.) Rachael Ogonna Umahi, in lifting the women and orphans of Ebonyi State through her Family Succour and Upliftment Programme (FASUP) will forever remain indelible in the memories of Ebonyi people.
The construction of bungalows for indigent widows drawn from across the 13 council areas is worthy of commendation. A proper study of the qualities of the buildings and the status of their owners as I carried out at Eli-Nwogvu and Echi- Aba in Abakaliki and Ebonyi Local Government Areas respectively leaves no one in doubt that Mrs. Umahi is an altruistic leader and a woman with the heart of gold.
From all indications, it is beyond doubt that the actual journey of Ebonyi State and her people to greatness began the day Umahi took over the reins of power in the young state; this development which I termed Umahism has educed encomia from independent observers like the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Thomas Awkbright who said that “Ebonyi roads are the best.”
Former President Obasanjo, who described Umahi as “a doer, an achiever and a good manager of resources” capped up his admiration for Umahi’s leadership strides with what I call the “dance for development” at the project site of Ebonyi Waste Recycling plant, Umuoghara on November 7. The ordinary Ebonyi people are happy with the way Governor Umahi is developing Ebonyi State and her citizenry.
These Ebonyi voters have demonstrated through their cross-border voluntary adoptions of Governor Umahi for second tenure without regard to political, religious or tribal affiliations. As Ebonyi people of honour and integrity welcome President Buhari to the New Ebonyi State built by Umahi, one cannot help praying God who reigns in the affairs of men to grant the prayers of Ebonyi masses for the continued service of the governor – a man who has given Ebonyi people a basket of projects – till 2023.
• Eze is a media aide to Governor Umahi
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