Gov. Umahi, 2023 Igbo Presidency and the question of whom the cap fits

By Ogbuatu Chidi Simbad 

 It has been over three decades since our prophetic literary icon- Prof Chinua Achebe aptly posited that the problem with Nigeria is squarely that of leadership. Events over the years have proved Achebe right albeit previous leaders have been trying their best; yet, we have not got to the Eldorado.
This clamour for a better Nigeria, for modern and focused leadership is giving room for a comprehensive and thorough search for purposeful leaders. In the midst of such thorough search, Gov David Umahi readily comes to mind. 

Coming to power in 2015, Governor Umahi came prepared having served in various other capacities such as Ebonyi state party Chairman of the PDP and Deputy Governor. From the day he was sworn in as governor, His Excellency Governor David Umahi has not rested in tinkering how to better Ebonyi state primarily and the nation at large.

In a matter of days from assumption of office, he changed the face of Abakaliki city in terms of infrastructure. Umahi vigorously tackled the hitherto challenges of access road networks beginning from the city centre and extending to the rural areas in all the local governments in the state. The magic is not just that the roads culminated in over two thousand (2000) kilometers within the shortest possible time but that he brought unprecedented innovation to it by constructing the roads on rigid pavements- a technology that would guarantee a 50 year lifespan on the projects.
The roads were not going on alone; they were running concurrently with overhead bridges of massive magnitudes and dimensions. As at now, Gov Umahi has completed about 9 flyover bridges of a total of over 150 spans with about 3 on going and one at the take off stage.

The attention given to the roads were not limited just to the state roads but also to the federal roads as the Abakaliki- Enugu express way, Abakaliki- Afikpo- Amasiri- Okigwe road, Abaomege- Calabar roads are all being simultaneously dualized by Governor Umahi.  In this respect, President Muhamadu Buhari who commissioned two of the flyovers when he visited Ebonyi State on 14th November, 2017 and had one of the glass tunnels named after him expressed his love for what Governor Umahi is doing and encouraged him.
Gone at a very advanced stage is the process for obtaining of loan from the Islamic bank and African Development bank for the construction of Ebonyi ring roads which when achieved would connect all the local government areas in the state. To say the least, governor Umahi is just a road master.

The ingenuity of the governor is not only limited to engineering; he is also an expert in commerce and industry. The construction of the Abakaliki mall designed to replicate the popular world class Dubai Mall, the International market renovated with such aesthetic looks as those found in the western world, the reduction in taxes for small and medium scale businesses and the relocation of traders to the more comfortable and spacious international market are all pointers to Umahi’s giant strides in commerce and industry.

Being fondly called a Professor of infrastructure, Gov Umahi has embarked on the construction of an international cargo airport as well as an Olympic stadium in Ebonyi State which is over 40% completed. These when completed and put to use will not only grossly boost the economic base of the state but will also attract global, nay national attention to Ebonyi State. The quality, style and grandeur of the new Government House and Governor’s lodge constructed and put to use by Governor Umahi is second to none in Nigeria. 

In the area of human capital development and empowerment, Governor Umahi has no rival in the country. Unarguably, with over 1500 appointees, he has the highest number of political appointees in government in the history of this present political dispensation. Such, in addition to learning the art and skills of leadership and governance is also a way of economic empowerment. He has equally distributed over 200 units of Sienna busses and over 400 units of Keke tricycles to youths across the state. This is aside from the numerous widows, aged and downtrodden in the state monthly payroll. In addition is the payment of hospital bills of the indigents- both Ebonyians and other Nigerians resident in Ebonyi.   The numerous credit facilities given to small and medium scale business operators in the state are another way of demonstrating the governor’s drive in the area of Empowerment and Human Capital Development. 

Education and Religion are also not left aside. Governor Umahi has constructed and equipped a modern 4-classroom blocks in each of the 171 political wards in Ebonyi state. This is in addition to prompt and uninterrupted payment of teachers’ salaries.
The Ebonyi State Vocational College which is solely an initiative of Governor Umahi is the first of its kind in Nigeria as it is the only institution of learning at that level that is embarking of novel productions such as fabrication and assembling of Keke Tricycles, production of paints, computerized repairs of vehicles, production of garments of foreign match, foot wears, etc.  The assemblage of staff includes our indigenous best brains around as well as Chinese expatriates.  
The King David Gifted Children’s Academy which is as well the Governor’s brainchild is an international institution which assembles specially gifted children from every part of the state and gives them special training in specified fields.  
Aside from not only sustaining but increasing the subvention given to the state owned University, ygovernor Umahi has also initiated and almost completing the construction of the State University Teaching hospital at Uburu Ebonyi State and has equally completed and equipped an ultramodern school of Nursing in the State. 

The construction of the Ecumenical centre is another milestone that has distinguished Gov Umahi as a leader in the black race. With the over 5billion naira gigantic edifice, Umahi made history as having constructed the most ultramodern Ecumenical Centre in the whole of black Africa.   In the same spirit of religious tolerance, Gov. Umahi has endlessly identified with our Muslim brothers in the state both during festivities and at normal times. In fact, during the tumultuous era of the COVID19 pandemic, it is on record that Gov Umahi, in the spirit of the Ebonyi man, first gave palliatives to our brothers from the North and West before giving to Ebonyians. This underscores his love for visitor which is a reflection of the character of every true Ebonyi man.                 

An advocate of the gospel of zero oil economy, governor Umahi hinges his aspirations on Agriculture. His mantra is that everyone should have a second address which is the farm. His coming heralded the era of massive farming in the state thereby boosting the state economy and empowering the citizens. In his bid to promote Agriculture, the Umahi led administration renovated and increased the production capacity of Ebonyi fertilizer plant making it one of the few sources of fertilizer to the country at large. To confirm his Agricultural inclination as an alternative to oil, the erstwhile president of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo visited Ebonyi on 6th November 2017 to launch the Zero Hunger Agric Summit, an occasion he used to commission the mushroom farm built by governor Umahi. 
His love for and deep knowledge of Agric-driven economy made one of the foremost Nigerian Universities – The University of Nigeria Nsukka -to invite him as a guest lecturer on the 59th Founder’s Day Lecture on 6th October, 2019. After the lecture, he received numerous accolades, gifts as well as various awards from the university.

At the regional level, serving as the Chairman of South East Governors’ forum offered Gov. Umahi an opportunity to bring his leadership ingenuity to bear at the geopolitical zone.  He galvanized the region and waded whatever regional storms that came. 
As a man of vision, Gov Umahi championed the establishment of South East common funds- a project that though ongoing has the capacity of pulling resources of the southeast together to develop the zone.
The frequency of meetings and the attitude of sitting together to take decisions on matters of the zone are archetypal of the spirit of Umahism- an emerging philosophy of leadership anchored on the exemplary leadership of Governor David Umahi.  

True to his type, a born detribalized leader, Governor Umahi was spotted by President Buhari on various occasions and has seen the genius in him. This, in addition to his leadership prowess, offered him the opportunity of a closer relationship with the president who believes in him and has embarked on many international diplomatic and official trips with him. Such rare opportunities has exposed gyovernor Umahi to the demands and tenets of national leadership the more. 

At this point in our political history, Nigeria needs a leader that will further advance the cause of the nation. We need a leader who will continue the transformation of Nigeria, a leader who will move Nigeria to compete globally with other countries in the comity of nations. Nigeria needs a young and vibrant leader who has the requisite experience to drive us further and in Governor David Umahi, we have that man. 
Since the biblical dictum that he who can be trusted in smaller things can also be trusted in great ones remains true, now that the wave is blowing the direction of southeast for Igbo presidency, it will be imperative that we join forces with other well meaning Nigerians and advocate that Governor Umahi should be prepared to lead us in Nigeria for he has been tested and trusted.

As the ruling party today in Nigeria, we believe in justice, fairness and equity , we the members of the All Progressives Congress, APC, are very optimistic that APC has a credible presidential candidate in Governor Umahi.

Chidi Simbad Ogbuatu is the Publicity Secretary of APC in Ebonyi State. 

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