In his 1859 English translation of the Persian classical poem, ‘Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam’, Edward Fitzgerald wrote in verse XLV:
“But leave the Wise to wrangle, and with me
The Quarrel of the Universe let be
And, in some corner of the Hubbub coucht,
Make Game of that which makes as much of Thee.”
In the build up to the 2019 general elections, the recourse of the elites of Ebonyi State, nay the country Nigeria, to the “hubbub” of political propaganda, esoteric wranglings and fantasy-laden preachments designed to confound and deceive the unwary rural Nigerian masses who form the bulk of the now-prized electorate (king-makers) is as unfair as it is disgusting. The need to consolidate the freedom from political swindle which God granted my home state of Ebonyi in 2015 compels this piece. Truly, “If Jesus sets you [Ebonyi people] free, you [Ebonyi people] are free indeed” (John 8:36); but on the night before His crucifixion, the same Jesus warned us [Ebonyi people, nay mankind] to “Watch and pray” (Matt. 26:41)! It is true that we serve the God of miracles, but Biblical and real-life experiences prove that miracles are simply God’s interventions in man’s reasonable actions taken in the direction of faith. No wonder, “faith without work is dead” (James 2: 14-26 )!
The truth is that whichever side of the divide one was in the 2015 general elections, the result of the elections, especially the governorship results was a divine deliverance: The masses of Ebonyi state were delivered from the strangle-hold of political demigods who wanted to turn our God-given Ebonyi State into their personal fiefdom. The political demigods were delivered from the self-immolating hallucination of playing god with the destinies of Ebonyi people, while their followers learnt that without God, every counsel of mortal man, no matter what he invests in it, shall come to naught! Having said these, I shall place below for my esteemed audience the fact sheets of Ebonyi State development indices since 29th May, 2015 when Governor David Nweze Umahi took oath of office.
Boarder, Peace and Conflict resolution: The first fruits of Umahi’s administration manifested in this sector. Girded with the armour of faith, Umahi waded into the many wars and conflicts which he inherited from the previous administration, not to fight on one of the sides, but to conclusively reconcile Ebonyi people with God and with one another. With the success he achieved in the Ezillo and Ezza-Ezillo war where his tree of peace has continued to blossom, Umahi carried on to Amachi in Abakaliki LGA, Amangwu Edda in Afikpo South LGA, Effemgbabo and Elugwu Ettam all in Ikwo LGA, Ntsurakpa in Ohaukwu LGA and other areas of conflict in Ebonyi State, reconciling conflicting interests and nipping subsequent conflicts in the bud until Ebonyi became one state united in love and peace. These gave Umahi out as both a servant of the Prince of Peace and a contemporary Ambassador of Peace. Umahi has continued to play the role of Peace Ambassador both at the state level and the national level where he is saddled with the job of restoring peace between herders and farmers in the North east and North central even as I write this piece. His recent approach to Ekpomaka – Inyimagu skirmish where he ordered the arrest of senior members of his administration show that Umahi is one man who will spare nothing to ensure that Ebonyi people have peace.
Works and Transport sector : In less than a fortnight of his administration, Umahi introduced the use of rigid concrete pavement in the road sector of Ebonyi State in the reconstruction of Nkaliki – House of Assembly and Ogoja – Ricemill – Onuebonyi road which were nightmares to road users. This seminal act became the standard for Umahi who is building roads to last for future generations of Ebonyi people. The Governor flagged off the construction of three number 700-metre length twin overhead bridges and a pedestrian crossover bridge all along the Trans-saharan highway as well as the entire internal road network of Abakaliki metropolis with a total distance of 500 kilometers. The Governor went ahead to open up virgin roads in new layouts like Hausa quarters, Hilltop, Mgbabor, Amike-Aba and Egu Ogboriga. A man whose zeal to develop Ebonyi State is unequaled, Umahi flagged off construction of the 23.5 kilometer Hilltop – Nwofe Agbaja virgin road as well as the Nkwegu – FUNAI (now Alex Ekwueme University) road. Umahi, whose exploits in the road sector earned the sobriquet, ‘Roadmaster’ from his teeming Ebonyi supporters moved into the hinterlands, reconstructing not less than 15 kilometers of roads in each of the 13 council areas; Onueke, Afikpo and Uburu internal road networks as well as intervening in the reconstruction of federal roads like Nkalagu – Nigercem road, Amasiri – Okposi – Uburu road and a section of Abakaliki – Afikpo road.
The British High commissioner, Mr. Awkbright after driving through Ebonyi roads told the world that, “Roads built by Governor Umahi for Ebonyi people are the best”!
Environment sector: No one knew that a beautiful environment and effective management of environmental waste in Ebonyi state were both feasible and affordable until the advent of Umahi’s administration. Umahi put in place a direct labour team comprising the staff of the Ministry of Environment and his ebullient Technical Assistants on Environment who were assigned zones to clean and ensure prompt evacuation of generated waste. Umahi equally set up an effective surveillance team comprising supervisors who follow up actual daily sanitation status of the zones and upload pictures of the state of the environment including drainages on social media for the appraisal of the digital e-Governor and other critical stakeholders on environment on daily basis. This is Umahi’s midas touch which has brought Ebonyi people clean and healthy environment at affordable cost. The largest waste recycling plant in Nigeria is under construction in Umuoghara. The project which elicited the ‘dance of development’ from former President Obasanjo has capacity to recycle non-degradable waste for further use, convert degradable waste to organic fertilizer and create 3000 job opportunities for skilled and unskilled Ebonyi youths.
Roundabouts in Abakaliki municipality were redesigned, restructured and fitted with water fountains and ornamental lights while road medians and roadsides in the state were landscaped and fitted with interlocks. Ornamental and economic trees were also planted along majority of the streets while garden lights and streetlights were installed in the municipality. The street lights along all the streets and major roads of Abakaliki constitute aesthetic delight in the nights.
Education sector: The education sector has its fair share of Umahism which translates to a better form of democracy. Convinced that no system of education can be better than its foundation, Umahi began by accessing Ebonyi State funds which were abandoned by his predecessor for five years spanning 2010 – 2015 at Universal Basic Education Commission! With that, he went to work renovating and building over 150 classroom blocks in various primary and post-primary schools across the landscape of Ebonyi State. Dormitories and classroom blocks were constructed in the school of the blind, Opefia Izzi and the school of the deaf and dumb in Ohaozara. The 31 pilot schools especially the three Technical Colleges at Abakaliki, Afikpo and Agba were structurally up-graded and equipped with e-learning equipment and modern instructional aids. Twenty thousand desks were procured and distributed to schools in the state while a proper surveillance system which involved posting Local Education Secretaries outside their places of origin was put in place to prevent the usual sacrifice of diligence on the alter of favoritism. Umahi put up a task force against pupil/student loitering and hawking to compel school attendance. School Moral Evangelism was equally introduced in all schools in Ebonyi State to morally re-arm and point the young heavenwards. WAEC and NECO Examinations miracle or cheating centres were effectively dismantled in Ebonyi State. Yet, WAEC rated Ebonyi State performance 10th best in Nigeria while NECO put Ebonyi 2nd in southern Nigeria. With these in place, government officials, parents of high social strata and people who want the best quality of education for their wards are enrolling their children in Ebonyi public schools.
At Ebonyi State College of Education Ikwo, a storey building with 18 classrooms and 400-hundred capacity hall, a well-equipped multimedia micro-teaching laboratory, an e-library for studies and research, 150 units of computers and seats for computer-based tests (CBT) as well as another one-storey well-equipped science laboratory block were put in place under this administration. At Ebonyi State University, the tuition fees of the students were reduced by ten thousand naira only at a time when all state and even federal universities are increasing their fees. The Overseas Scholarship programme has resumed with actual crediting of student’s accounts with funds in spite of the most inclement economic downturn in the country. Preparatory to the implementation of the single campus resolution in respect of Ebonyi State University Abakaliki, Umahi has gazetted the services of EBSU staff and evicted the intrasigent illegal occupants of the permanent site of the university who have defied all the lawful attempts of previous administrations to eject them from the university land.
Agricultural sector: Agriculture is one area where Ebonyi State naturally has comparative advantages. It is on record that Umahi is the only Governor of Ebonyi State who is fully exploiting this aspect of the potentials of Ebonyi State through his agricultural revolution programme known as “one man one hectare” farming programme. Through the programme, farmers are provided with funds, equipment and high-breed seedlings/grains to enable them cultivate their farms. The target of the programme is to ensure that no arable land space is left uncultivated every farming season. He equally introduced the dry-season farming programme which translates to irrigation-based farming. The ban on the sale or consumption of plastic or foreign rice as well as the buy-back component of Umahi’s agricultural revolution constitute big encouragement to Ebonyi people. Apart from food security, they equally made farming profitable as the excess yields are always bought back by government to prevent farmers from losing their investments to bountiful harvests. The processing and packaging of Abakaliki Rice has improved such that it has become an international brand attracting encomia from the Federal Government as well as the international community.
Internal security: From the onset, Governor Umahi made it clear that peace and security of lives and property were his first-line priorities. He therefore created the office of the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on internal security. Umahi strengthened all security agencies in Ebonyi State through constant logistic and welfare supports. He went further to establish Ebonyi Neighborhood Security Watch which complements the efforts of the police through first hand security tabs, routine surveillance patrol and strategic check points. With all these and the Operation Light up Ebonyi through which streetlights have been installed along all the roads in Abakaliki municipality and all urban settlements in Ebonyi State, criminal activities have drastically reduced in Ebonyi State, giving room for the resumption of night life.
Economic empowerment & Job creation: This ministry, one must admit, began to function fully in Umahi’s administration. Umahi, a man of unparalleled political will, took nominations for economic empowerment programmes away from the political class and so it ceased to be subject of political expediency. This is a depature from the old norm of asking political office-holders to shortlist names of their supporters who usually constituted the beneficiaries. Through the use of ordinary people to generate economic empowerment beneficiaries by the Umahi administration, economic empowerment programmes in Ebonyi State have been returned to those to whom they rightly belong – Ebonyi masses. Thus political affiliation is no longer one of the neccesary qualifications for accessing empowerment benefits in Ebonyi State! This is why upon the unprecedented gargantuan investments of Governor David Umahi’s administration in the economic and job creation sector which is the highest in South eastern Nigeria, the usual complaints of nepotism and other forms of corruption that trailed all administrations as regards the economic and job creation sector have been [and will continue to be] unheard of in Umahi’s administration! The highlights of Umahi’s impressive economic empowerment programme also known as “stomach infrastructure” programme included the empowerment of 2400 youths/hawkers with N250,000.00 each to enable them to either trade or farm; N250,000.00 to each of 8000 persons comprising civil servants, women and men; N100,000.00 each to over 2000 widows and N10,000.00 monthly stipend to widows and salaries for 85 physically challenged persons. Umahi’s involvement of over 400 youths in governance as Senior Technical Assistants and Technical Assistants is legendary because apart from engaging and empowering these youths, it has created a pool of human resources who will take over the baton of leadership in this country.
Industrial sector: The industrial sector of Ebonyi State had been largely dormant before the advent of the Divine mandate administration of Engr. David Nweze Umahi. Governor Umahi went to work revitalizing Ebonyi State Pipe Production Company, installing an overhead crane and cutting machines for production of water pipe fittings therein as well as constructing weather-proof and storage warehouse for produced pipes. Through Ebonyi State Government’s ingenious partnership with Bank of Industries, Umahi catalyzed the industrial sector with the N4billion naira financial facility made available at single digit interest rate for entrepreneurs who want to establish agro-based industries in Ebonyi State. Industrial parks have been created in Ezzamgbo, Ohaozara and Ishielu where land is made available for genuine investors who want to establish industries. With these arrangements, Umahi has provided two (land and capital) out of the four factors of production for prospective investors in Ebonyi State. The improvements on the road and security sectors are added fillips to the industrial revolution programme. These are responsible for the Foreign Direct Investments like the smelting plant and the 5000 units low-cost housing estates all in Ohaozara, Ebonyi State. The establishment of a waste recycling plant with 3000 job capacity shows that Umahi is one man who leads by example.
Health sector: The health sector is not left out of the uncommon transformation going on in Ebonyi State under Umahi’s administration. As an antidote to the recurrent outbreaks of lassa fever which have taken tolls on the population of our people and that of our health personnel, Umahi built a virology centre which stands in Ebonyi state as the second in the whole of southern Nigeria. Our 13 General Hospitals have had turn-around rehabilitations while the School of Nursing in Uburu has been turned into a centre of excellence. An ultramodern Chest centre was equally built at Mile Four Hospital, Abakaliki. The 13 General Hospitals and 171 Health centres in Ebonyi State have all been upgraded with modern facilities. Umahi’s free healthcare programme which runs through the churches in Ebonyi State and his recurrent “amnesty” for ‘hospital prisoners’ have impacted positively on the lives of Ebonyi masses even in the hinterlands. Added to these are the diligent execution of routine immunization programmes, disease surveillance exercises and mosquito net distribution exercises in Ebonyi State.
In concluding this article, may I state that inasmuch as we are to “leave the wise to wrangle” and hand over “the quarrel of the universe to” Omar Khayyam, we owe posterity a moral duty to shout our testimonies from both the rooftops and the valleys like the man healed of blindness in the gospel of John. When the Pharisees began to “wrangle” and plot the downfall of Jesus Christ for the miracle (offence) of healing a blind man, the man told them: “One thing I do know: I was blind, and now I see (John 9:25). To Ebonyi political Pharisees who do not want our “Ambassador of Peace”, a “doer and an achiever”, “a good manager of resources”, the man who built a new state and “the best roads for Ebonyi people”, “the Roadmaster”, the man who pursuant to his covenant with God is empowering widows, youths and the less-privileged without regard to political or religious affiliations to continue 2019, Ebonyi masses are saying: “Ebonyi State and her people were forlorn and undeveloped, but with David Nweze Umahi, things are markedly better”! I leave every Ebonyi voter with the words of Oko, the persona in my essay entitled The verdict of the unbiased: “Every Ebonyi voter who is really interested in the development of Ebonyi state and her people should vote for Governor Umahi in 2019”.
In 2019 there will be no need for anticipatory voting: A bird in hand is worth more than ten in the bush!
SOURCE :The Nigerian Voice (local news)