How Orji Promotes the Umahi Administration in Ebonyi

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Nseobong Okon-Ekong and Ben Nworie write that the Ebonyi State Commissioner for Information and State Orientation and Acting Commissioner for Human Capital Development and Monitoring, Hon. Orji Uchenna Orji, knows that his relevance on the job depends on promoting the public relations value in every course of action taken by the Governor David Umahi administration

In 2007, Orji Uchenna Orji was the Chief Whip in the Ebonyi State House of Assembly. One may argue that the task of getting his colleagues to attend plenary and vote as the party leadership desires was not a particularly difficult job in a state dominated by a particular political party. Yet managing human sentiments and emotions, not the least, feelings that are susceptible to the vagaries of political affairs can be very demanding and requires every wisdom at one’s disposal.

Four years after a very successful tenure as a lawmaker in the state, Orji aspired to move up to the Green Chamber of the National Assembly to represent Ivo/Ohanivo Federal Constituency. He ran a campaign in which he presented himself as the ‘Face of Service’. There was a clamour to have him in that office. People remembered that he made a difference in the state house of assembly. They said he gave scholarships, secured jobs into the federal and state civil service for an appreciable number of persons and ensured that those who sought admission into institutions of higher learning were given a chance. To his credit also a hospital was built at Akaeze. The general hospital at Ishiagu was renovated and had its perimeter fence properly secured among other notable achievements. But further considerations like zoning counted against his quest to represent his people in Abuja. Therefore, he was persuaded to drop his ambition. Orji was appointed Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources. He functioned in that role between 2015 and 2017. Prior to that, he served in different capacities on the board of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), both in its international and national bodies, between 2014 and 2015.

Orji is well placed to advance a profound opinion on the unique way the Umahi administration approached agricultural enterprises. “The governor has introduced what is called second address scheme,” he enthused. “This scheme is for the civil servants and political office holders. In that scheme, the governor rolls out about N4 billion to ensure that civil servants, apart from salaries, have something to access. They can also access by proxy. If they chose to go into another business apart from agriculture, they can use their spouses or brothers for entrepreneurship.”

He explained further, “These civil servants have the opportunity of accessing between N200,000 and N1million. I can tell you that half of the civil servants have accessed that money and it’s still ongoing. That is what we call civil servant loan scheme. In that scheme, the repayment plan was made in such way that it is convenient. The interest is single digit, between 5 and 9 percent.”

He made another bid to become a federal legislator in 2019. Again, he was prevailed upon to back down in the larger interest of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). From 2017 to 2019, he was the Commissioner for Economic Empowerment and Job Creation Ebonyi State (now known as Ministry of Human Capital Development and Monitoring).

When Governor David Umahi reconstituted his cabinet for the last lap of his administration, Orji was given another privilege to serve his people. This time as the state Commissioner for Information and State Orientation and Acting Commissioner for Human Capital Development and Monitoring. Going by the importance of the assignment given to him, it would seem that the lawyer-turned politician is highly valued by the governor.

Meanwhile, Umahi has earned the good reputation of presiding over an administration that has redeemed Ebonyi from the backwaters of the South-east. From the unpleasant status of being known as the least developed Igbo state, Governor Umahi carried out unbelievable transformation of Ebonyi in his first four-year tenure and appears set to perform greater wonders in the next four years, leading to the expiration of his second term in 2023. As the spokesperson for the Umahi administration, Orji declares the policies and programmes of the Ebonyi State government with an admirable coherence. “God has endowed the governor with the ingenuity to see to the completion of every project. Apart from Lagos and Abuja, Ebonyi will have the highest number of flyovers. I can assure you that it is possible. He is constructing another set of eight flyovers with double lane to match and it has commenced in earnest. They will be located in the three major points in each of the senatorial zones. The shopping mall and the international market he started will be completed. At the moment, Ebonyi is home to the best Ecumenical Center, in Africa built by any government either state or federal. All of these are happening despite the paucity of funds. The governor will keep to his promise.” The Ebonyi Commissioner for Information knows his relevance on the job depends on promoting the public relations value in every course of action taken by the government. He believes Umahi has made his job easier by being on top of his game and setting very high performance standard for himself and consistently meeting target.

In fact, a few governors in the South-east have come under pressure from their people as a result of the excellence in governance conspicuously exhibited by Umahi. The question is, if Umahi can do it, what is stopping them? Orji offered why Umahi deserves wider acclaim. “We are lucky as a state and we are also lucky as a country to have him at this point in our history. Honestly, the governor of Ebonyi state qualifies to be one of the world class leaders. What he has done as the governor of Ebonyi state shows that he is a man of extra ordinary ability. In 1996, Ebonyi was created and called ‘Salt of the Nation’. By that time, it was the ‘Dust of the Nation’ because of the underdevelopment; because of the criminal neglect that we suffered. Almost 20 years after, a man from the most populous community in the state emerged as governor. He emerged under the most turbulent situation where his boss said, ‘you cannot be.’ He rose to become the first Deputy Governor to become governor against the wishes of his boss. He became governor at a time we had the highest record of economic recession in Nigeria. So, it was a double jeopardy, so to speak. But the governor was not deterred. Today, Ebonyi State is now a ‘Shining Light of the Nation’. Ebonyi state is a signpost of excellence. Ebonyi state has the best road network in the federation.”

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When Governor David Umahi reconstituted his cabinet for the last lap of his administration, Orji was given another privilege to serve his people. This time as the state Commissioner for Information and State Orientation and Acting Commissioner for Human Capital Development and Monitoring. Going by the importance of the assignment given to him, it would seem that the lawyer-turned politician is highly valued by the governor. Meanwhile, Umahi has earned the good reputation of presiding over an administration that has redeemed Ebonyi from the backwaters of the South-east. From the unpleasant status of being known as the least developed Igbo state, Governor Umahi carried out unbelievable transformation of Ebonyi in his first four-year tenure and appears set to perform greater wonders in the next four years