Coming from a recent tour of projects embarked upon by Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State, Kunle Adewale and Shola Oyeyipo write that the governor, who is also the chairman, South-east Governors’ Forum, has an insatiable thirst to reposition his state
A recent tour of projects executed by Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State was an experience in good governance. Aside from the administration demonstrating an obvious passion for rapid development of the state, the projects, cutting across every part of Ebonyi, are the best example of prudence in the management of a state’s limited resources.
No doubt, Governor Umahi knew he had so much to show off, considering the meagre monthly allocation hovering between N1. 5bn to N2.5bn and the biting effects of economic recession, hence he did not just embark on the tour personally, he had with him notable leaders of the state, journalists drawn from different parts of Nigeria and other citizens of the state, who all marvelled at the quantum and quality of work done so far.
An engineer by training, Umahi has turned most parts of the state to constrution sites, across the state’s three senatorial districts.
One of such important projects was the Okoa bridge project in Onicha LGA. It is a gigantic project which he had promised the people that he would construct during the electioneering campaign. Judging by the size and the quality of work done so far, the project which could cost as much as N2.5bn in other climes was done at a paltry N700m.
The people are particularly elated about the project because of its importance in linking various parts of the state and easing movement of people and farm products. That much did former governor Egwu note when he said: “I Want to appreciate you for this mighty project on a federal government road. When completed, the people will have a new lease of life. This project needs to be commended. The low cost of money had to be commended. As former governor, I can appreciate you. You want everybody in the state to have a sense of belonging.”
It was a trip that saw the inspection team to the 11-kilometre Nzerem-Akaeze to Ishiagu road, a land constructed with the new cement road construction technique that has eight inches thickness. There was also the 25 kilometre road at Amasiri-Okposi-Uburu, being handled by Crush Rock limited. The Uburu internal road that links most of the communities in the area. In Afikpo, the home town of Akam Ibiam, the government constructed the Amamgbala, Eke market and Catholic Church road which links Afikpo North. The project is billed to cost N636.7m and N200m has already been paid.
The tour got to the Ivo water treatment plant to supply water to the entire Ivo local government area, Ebonyi School of Nursing and midwifery, Uburu, Edda road in Ohofia and several other places, but above all, the underlying fact is that the governor has achieved so much within the past two years that he has been on the saddle. His effort has put to the fore, his extensive experience in the field of professional engineering spanning over two decades.
Armed with a vission, which according to him, is to “make Ebonyi the number one economy in Nigeria” Umahi has shown an uncommon penchant for a rapid development geared towards bringing all parts of the state to the standard they should be compared with other states in other federation, particularly the hinterlands where agricultural products are being massively harnessed.
The administration has completed the rehabilitation of 200km roads within the capital city with over 300km more. Without doubt, long time visitors to Abakaliki, the state capital are bound to be pleasantly surprised by the new look of the capital. Now, there are three well-beautified roundabouts, the Udensi, Government House and Abacha Road roundabouts. There are also three flyover bridges. They are all enhancing the outlook of the city.
Considering the hardship some abandoned federal roads caused Ebonyi people, the government embarked on the reconstruction of such roads. Some of such are; 60 km Abakaliki – Afikpo road, 47km Enugu – Abakaliki road, 15km Nkalagu – Egbedegede – Ehamufu, 21km Nkwagu-Enyigba road and 26km Amasiri-Okposi-Uburu road. There are also some very important bridges constructed on Hilltop – Nwofe road with another section at Mkpumakpatakpa, the Amangwu-Edda bridge and the Ebiya bridge at Amike Aba.
Some outstanding qualities of these roads are the thickness of the cement base of between eight to 10 inches before the asphalt overlay, which the governor says he was doing to ensure that the roads outlive this generation. The roads are guided by a very thick cement slab that between the roads and the drainage to ensure durability. A good number of these roads come with street lights mostly powered by electricity generating sets.
Judging from the roads scattered all over the state, many may easily conclude that the government is only spending money on roads, but that would have been wrong. The achievements of the government in the area of education, youths and women empowerment, healthcare delivery, security, environment and other sectors are legendary.
A simple reflection of government’s investment in the transport sector is that from a previous internally generated revenue of between N5, 000 to N10, 000 from the sector, with appropriate policies, it has been jerked up to N10m. The government has also constructed a waste-to-wealth plant. The aim is to ensure a cleaner environment and provide jobs at the same time.
Aside several other policies and government investments tailored towards youth empowerment, there has been massive training of youths in the area of ICT. The state recently hosted it first youth development summit on ICT with the theme: Refocusing Talented Ebonyi Youths for Sustainable National Development in Training and Capacity Building through ICT Revolution. Over 2,000 youths, including secondary school students participated. Also, as parts of effort at youth empowerment, the government acquired a parcel of land at Uda Odeji at Nnorom street where the construction of an ultra-modern stadium is underway. There is also a GSM village under construction and the idea is to use it to harness the talents of youths in that sector.
The government has not only radically turned around the College of Education, Ikwo with the massive 18-classroom – 400 seater lecture hall-lecturers’ offices, modern laboratories and other befitting facilities, secondary and primary schools have been reconstructed, provided with modern sitting arrangements and students provided with books.
One of the major policies of the administration is to provide about 10 per cent of rice consumed in Nigeria. So, the government has a mindset to create jobs through agriculture and it has been providing empowerment materials to farmers thereby helping to create jobs rather than make people job seekers. Towards these, there have been numerous entrepreneurship trainings and government has provided loans to farmers while at the same time attracting all possible facilities from the federal government to help farmers. To restore the dignity of his people, the governor brought home Ebonyi hawkers from other cities and assisted them with loans to go back to farm.
The fact is, there is so much to talk about. It is a very long list of achievements so far and yet, works are going day and night everywhere and one must wonder how the governor is able to manage the little he has to achieve so much just as a driver in the Ministry of Information, Sunday, said, “Because we had governors who left most these things undone, people are really wondering about how he is able to do all these things within two years.”
“You know as a former governor I cannot be a sycophant. I will say it the way it is. He is really working very hard. He has surprised a lot of us; the quality of work done and the amounts spent on these projects show that he has the passion; he wants to work very hard. So, we are happy with him.”
Two factors answer why the governor is working hard. First, his initial promise to the people, which will be the factor to judge his re-election. Two, the circumstance of his emergence as governor while the former governor, Mr. Martin Elechi tried to truncate his ambition. Hence, he must prove to the people that they did not make the wrong choice in the first place.