Ebonyi State of Yesterday And Today; The Umahi's Magical Footprints

The creation of Ebonyi State in 1996 was product of years of agitation against under-development and marginalization and a promise kept by the then Military Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha. Successive governments gave their best in their determination to change the narratives of Ebonyi State. From the first Military Governor, Navy Commander Walter Feghabo, (Rtd) to the second Military Governor Late Sen. Simeon Oduoye; from the first democratically elected Governor, His Excellency Sen. Sam Ominyi Egwu, to the second elected Governor His Excellency, Chief Martin N. Elechi, Ebonyi State has been growing in bounds in her aspiration to be truly the “Salt of the Nation” which is the nickname given to her by the founding fathers.

Despite all these loudable developmental programmes by past governments, Ebonyi State was still battling for full emancipation from the shackles of poverty, death of infrastructure, Human Capital deficit and socio-economic and political neglect. The voice of the people of the State was not heard, rural urban migration was on the rise, and the state was still at the bottom of the ladder in development index. Many communities were cut-off from the township, farming was by crude means and farm produce had no value while means of economic survival were lacking. The situation rather relegated the people to the background.

May 29, 2015 was heralded by the people of Ebonyi State as the beginning of a new era, with the emergence of a man of vision and extra-ordinary leadership ability, His Excellency, Engr. Chief David Nweze Umahi, FNSE, FNATE, 3rd Civilian Deputy Governor and 3rd Civilian Governor of Ebonyi State.

A man with divine covenant and burning desire to enhance the welfare of his people and empower them to be self reliant through the compassionate delivery of transparent and God-fearing governance that is based on integrity and dignity, Governor Umahi made prophetic proclamations about the face of Ebonyi State under his administration especially in the area of infrastructural renaissance, agricultural revolution, health development, education, security, human capital development and inclusive governance. 

The Governor with his Deputy and all the government functionaries moved to work, bearing in mind where they were coming from, where it was pinching them and the dreams of the founding fathers who wished that Ebonyi State would be the “Salt of the Nation”.

Governor Umahi brought to bear his ideals of inclusive governance, extra-ordinary hardwork, passion for service, creative ability and ingenuity in innovative technology, coupled with his experience and exposure.

Through God’s inspiration, Governor Umahi proceeded to creating the necessary environment, human and physical infrastructure both at the urban and rural communities, to make Ebonyi State a global village where the people will freely pursue their livelihood.

Ebonyi State under his administration became a construction site, a haven for self sustaining economic programmes for all inhabitants of the State, not withstanding their place of origin.

Like a miracle, all that is seen on daily basis is massive road infrastructure that cuts across all communities and townships including Federal Government roads that link to other states. Flyovers spring up in the major junctions of the various parts of the State as if they are not capital intensive. Ebonyi State now has over 13 flyovers some of which are still under construction and hundreds of kilometers of roads in both local, state and federal roads including double lanes. 

He introduced streetlight projects and connected virtually all the streets and major roads within the metropolis, satelight towns and at least 20km streetlight in each of the LGA to make life easy for the people. He gave Ebonyi State a new face with the construction of beautiful roundabouts and water fountains, traffic light, CCTV camera and LED facilities mounted in strategic junctions for security and ICT functions.

He introduced a concept of constructing rare structures that are first of their kinds in Africa both in quality and in size. This includes the construction of 8 inches concrete roads with 50 years guarantee, construction of four-way light tunnel, which links to the biggest water fountain in Arica, the biggest shopping mall and biggest ecumenical centre in Africa. These facilities are better visited than imagined. This light tunnel which is named after President Mohammadu Buhari is also connecting to the biggest International market through two flyovers along the Trans-Sahara Highway. 

The light tunnel radiates sparkling light that beautifies the environment in the night and it is a feature that signals a close-reach to the brand new Government House made up of the Governor’s lodge, the Governor’s office and the Presidential lodge, including the State Secretariat Complex within the Ochudo Centenary City.

In tackling poverty, the Governor built and in some cases resustated many commercial facilities, including the 80 M/T capacity per hour fertilizater blending plant, a total of 30 M/T capacity per hour Rice Milling plants owned by the State Government, 200 M/T capacity per day pulverization plant, ultra-modern pipe production machine that produces PVC pipes for oil pipe line, water reticulation and conduit wiring; International market and shopping mall to engage thousands of business men and women including exporters and importers; and other specialized markets including parks, wood market, building materials market, agricultural market among others. This is in addition to many agricultural establishments including the ultra-modern mushroom farm, the agric showroom and government assisted farms. 

Governor Umahi is the first to secure Federal Government’s approval to build International cargo Airport under President Mohammandu Buhari Administration. Apart from attracting Federal Government’s Army Referral Hospital, he is constructing a college of Medicine that will be a Centre of Excellence for heart diseases, liver and kidney problems and which shall house Africa’s biggest dialysis centre.

Already, his administration has completed the construction of School of Nursing/Midwifery, the virology centre and the State Emergency Hospital Complex and other primary and secondary healthcare facilities scattered across the communities in the State.

The Umahi Administration has done so much to empower Ebonyi people to be self reliant and self sufficient through its numerous agricultural and human empowerment programmes. 

Apart from prioritizing the funding of these sectors, the State Government has taken advantage of the facilities and grants from Development Partners, Donor Agencies, Federal Government Social Investment Programmes and CBN empowerment interventions including the IFAD VCDP and Community Social Development Program of the World Bank as well as USAID Support Programme. 

The State Government introduced mechanization and commercialization of agriculture, one-man-one-hectare program, Second Address Scheme, Empower Your World Programme and Millionaire Club Scheme. Different farm machineries have been procured for these programmes.

Government also established industrial clusters and procured fertilizer and cassava milling plants for cooperative societies. It established vocational college for entrepreneurs, artisans, technicians and craftsmen, King David Gifted Academy for the best brains in the State, agricultural institute for farmers, and adult school for business men and women and those that didn’t have opportunity of going to school. The educational facilities of the State, including classroom blocks, teaching facilities are being upgraded while welfare of Civil Servants are receiving attention. Also of interest is the introduction of free and compulsory education for school drop outs in partnership with the UBEC.

In a nutshell, one can say that in infrastructure, Ebonyi State under His Excellency, Engr. Chief David Nweze Umahi, FNSE, FNATE, enjoys a Midas touch as the State with the best and most durable road network among the states of Nigeria. It is now a testimony everywhere that in Nigeria today, Ebonyi has the most beautiful Capital city; biggest ecumenical centre; biggest light tunnel; biggest shopping mall; biggest international market; smoothest road network; biggest fertilizer blending plant in South East; biggest rice milling plants and rice milling clusters; biggest pulverization plant; biggest Mushroom farm, highest number of flyovers after Abuja and Lagos; most aesthetic water fountains with Africa’s biggest water fountains; biggest stadium and biggest airport after Abuja and Lagos; most beautiful Government House and Streetlight that shines 12 hours non-stop.

Today, the people of Ebonyi State are beginning to savour the benefits of Governor Umahi’s achievements. Apart from investors that are now trouping to Ebonyi State, socio-economic performance index has geometrically increased, Ebonyi State today has been delisted from the map of educationally less-privileged states; has consistently come within 10 best states in WAEC performance; produced the best JAMB candidate in Medicine & Surgery in Nigeria (in 2017 NUC education index); Out of 774 LGAs in Nigeria, a LGA in Ebonyi State came first as having the highest number of students that gained admission into various universities in Nigeria (2017 NUC Education Index); the first and perhaps the only state in Nigeria that has created Ministry of Human Capital Development as recommended by World Bank and International Monetary Fund in a colloquium with Nigerian Governors' Forum in 2017; Maternal Mortality Ratio is adjudged one of the best in Nigeria by World bank (2018 Health Index); Philips Performance Index, rates Ebonyi State among the 10 best states in Nigeria in Economic Development Performance; Ebonyi State is one of the best 5 states in 2020 States' Fiscal Sustainability Index; it is one of the 3 best states in Rice Production and Processing in Nigeria and one of the frontline states in the implementation of the projects of International Fund for Agricultural Development Value Chain Development Agency, IFAD/VCDP.

All these efforts are courtesy of a man of the people, a nationalist, bridge builder, and excellent performer, His Excellency Engr. Chief David Nweze Umahi, FNSE, FNATE, Governor of Ebonyi State., Chairman South East Governor’s Forum, Co-Chairman Southern Governor’s Forum.

To go be the Glory.

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