Democracy day anniversary is around the corner again. Like Plato said, “An unexamined life is not worth living”! The good thing about the anniversary is that it presents both the leaders and followers in the Nigerian democratic setting the opportunity of self-examination and peer review. This is why anniversaries like this one are usually anticipated and marked with confidence, display of legacies, edifying pride and convivialities by leaders who discharged the duties of their social contract with their people; while for leaders who failed to discharge the duties imposed on them by their social contract with their people, anniversary period like the impending democracy anniversary are often anticipated with nightmares and celebrated with hysteria, tremulous panic and recrudescent despondency. Without doubt, the best utility test for any thing, system or administration is the quantum of positive change or impact it can make or has actually made on the lives of the people and the environment of a given society over a given period. In Ebonyi, the youngest state in Southeast Nigeria where Apostle David Nweze Umahi holds sway as the third democratically-elected Governor since 29th May, 2015, Democracy day anniversaries [and indeed others like Independence and Ebonyi creation anniversaries] are naturally anticipated with positive and cooperative enthusiasm by both the governor and the governed, and celebrated with fanfare, thanksgiving and joy.
Investigations show that while the creation of Ebonyi state on 1st October, 1996 was both a divine intervention and a monumental watershed similar to the Red Sea experience of the people within the geographical expression known as Ebonyi state; the inauguration of David Nweze Umahi as Governor of Ebonyi state on 29th May, 2015 was a miracle which marked the total collapse of the “walls of Jericho” which, before then, separated Ebonyi state and her people from greatness! This 2018 Democracy anniversary which is the 19th in the history of Ebonyi state, and the third anniversary of the Divine mandate administration of Engr. David Nweze Umahi promises to be unique and interesting in many ways: While His Excellency, Apostle David Nweze Umahi shall on one hand flaunt his over-crowded score-card which he achieved in low revenue-profile Ebonyi state within the most inclement economic recession in the history of Nigeria and Ebonyi state; Ebonyi people shall on the other hand declare the many gainful returns on the balance sheet of their electoral investment on the candidature of Chief David Nweze Umahi in 2015!
At this juncture, Plato's submission and the quddities of anniversary celebrations as stated above compel a dispassionate and sincere audit of the accounts of Ebonyi people's electoral investment in Engr. David Nweze Umahi's political project in 2015. The aim of this exercise is to determine what the investment has yielded the people of Ebonyi state and whether that venture was worth it: Verifiable records show that the earliest returns the administration of Engr. David Nweze Umahi yielded Ebonyi people were peace and cessation of hostilities in Ezillo and total reconciliation of Ezillo and Ezza-Ezillo people who were the parties to the fratricidal war in which countless lives, limbs and property of humongous value were lost. Umahi planted a Tree of Peace in Ezillo and equally created Izzo Autonomous Community for Ezza-Ezillo people. Umahi's tree of peace in Ezillo has yielded off-springs in other communities where there were conflicts. Umahi built three 700-metre twin overhead bridges and a pedestrian crossover along the African Trans-saharan highway. The bridges have continued to save many lives and so serve decongestants of Accident and Emergency wards and mortuaries of hospitals in Ebonyi state.
Road returns to Ebonyi people's electoral investment in Umahi in 2015 include the reconstruction of the entire Abakaliki urban road network; Onueke, Afikpo and Uburu internal road networks on rigid concrete pavement. Other concrete rigid pavement roads built by Governor Umahi are 23km Hilltop – Nwofe Agbaja road, 30km Onueke – Ezzama – Oshiri – Onicha – Ohaozara, 20km Ezzamgbo – Effium toad, 15km Amasiri – Owutu – Oso Edda road, 8.3km Onicha – Isu – Obiozara road, 12.3km Uburu – Isu road, 11.2km Ogwor – Nzerem – Okue road, 12.2km Okposi – Umuoghara (New quarry) – Ebiaji road, 15km Ishieke – Odomoke road and 6km internal roads at Nkwoegu Military Cantonment, Abakaliki. Governor Umahi equally intervened in the reconstruction of three federal roads with a cumulative distance of 53.4 kilometers. The roads are a section of Abakaliki – Afikpo road, Abaomege – Ishinkwo – Ukawu – Ugwulangwu – Okposi road.
From the Economic empowerment sector, Umahi removed political affiliations from the criteria that qualifies one for benefitting from empowerment programmes. About 631 Ebonyi men, women and youths were appointed as Senior Technical Assistants, Technical Assistants and Ward Liaison Officers in a first-of-its-kind stomach infrastructure programme in Ebonyi state. This offered Ebonyians leadership training and created a human/leadership resource pool for posterity. Six youths, two from each district, who trained on horticulture were each provided with space, water bore-hole and start-up capital of one million naira (N1,000,000.00) to enable them take off. Three thousand Ebonyians comprising men, women and youths in civil service and private enterprises as well as spouses of security operatives were respectively empowered with two hundred and fifty thousand naira (N250,000.00) to enable them farm or trade. Each of five hundred and twenty Ebonyians in Diaspora (40 from each of the 13 LGA) was equally empowered with the amount stated above in the street-to-skill programme. Four hundred TVS tricycles were distributed free to Ebonyians at home and in Anambra state. Each of four thousand widows were empowered with the sum of one hundred thousand naira (N100,000.00) only to enable them state a small business or farm. Eighty-seven physically-challenged persons and about one hundred and thirty widows are paid monthly stipends. Added to these is the Hospital Amnesty Programme which Governor Umahi runs through the churches in Ebonyi state. The wife of the Governor, Mrs. Rachael Umahi, has recorded milestones in her fight against fistula, female genital mutilation, violence against women and the girl-child, child and girls trafficking and infringement on widows' rights. As I write this, Mrs. Umahi is building decent bungalows for indigent widows across the 171 electoral wards.
Through the agricultural revolution known as “one man, one hectare”, Ebonyi people have attained food security. The ban on the sale and consumption of foreign (or plastic) rice has made farming a profitable venture. Ebonyi Rice has equally become an international brand for which Umahi has received several presidential encomia. The School Agricultural programme supervised by Professor Adaeze Nwuzor is one unique feature of Ebonyi state's agricultural revolution, and it is designed to make farming attractive to make farming attractive to teenagers.
Governor Umahi has worked out an industrial policy for Ebonyi state. Work is progressing on the three industrial clusters at Uburu, Unwu-Ogharu and Ezzamgbo. The clusters are designed to run on renewable energy through the affordable and friendly biomass technology. Ebonyi middle-class engineers have made fresh in-roads in the development of the biomass technology. Through Umahi's industrial policy and partnership with the Bank of Industries, three out of the four factors of production has been provided for industrialists who want to establish in Ebonyi state. Ebonyi Pipe Production Company is functioning at installed capacity, producing high quality polyethylene pipes for water reticulation in Ebonyi state and for sale to the general public. Work has resumed at the uncompleted International Market which was inherited by the previous administration. Added to this was the development of a regional market at Afikpo.
The education sector brims with its good returns to Ebonyi people. All Universal Basic Education funds due to Ebonyi state which were hitherto abandoned in Abuja due to leadership ineptitude have been accessed. Twenty thousand two-seater classroom furniture were distributed to schools. One hundred and ninety classrooms have been renovated. Ten model primary/junior secondary schools with upstairs have been built and would soon be handed over for use. ICT infrastructure have been constructed and e-learning programmes have resumed in Ebonyi junior and senior secondary schools. School Evangelism programmes have been introduced to morally re-arm our teenagers. Disbursement of funds to Oversea sea scholarship programme students has commenced. Eighteen million dollars was attracted from the World Bank for Better Education Services for all in Ebonyi state. All these culminated in Ebonyi coming 10th in WAEC/NECO results in 2016 and 2017.
Ebonyi State College of Education, Ikwo has been affiliated to Ebonyi State University through the National Universities Commission. Thus, the college can run degree programmes. The tuition fees of Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki have been reduced by ten thousand naira at a time other tertiary institutions including federal universities were increasing their fees.
Ebonyi environment is a great spectacle to behold. Ebonyi Neighborhood Security Watch in collaboration with formal security agencies make life and property secure in Ebonyi. Its cleanliness and ambience make Ebonyi state the new world sought after by tourists.
In the health and water sectors, Ebonyi people celebrate the Virology Center and a Chest Clinic built and equipped by Governor Umahi in Abakaliki, the renovation and equipment of the 13 General Hospitals in the state, the free medical care programme and the Hospital Amnesty run by Umahi through the churches. Currently, a modern and spacious accident and emergency ward is being constructed in FETHA. With progress made in the rehabilitation of Ezillo water scheme and replacement of galvanized pipes with polyethylene water pipes in Ebonyi state, water supply has considerably improved in Abakaliki metropolis. Boreholes with overhead tanks have been provided at the 13 General Hospitals in the state. Some special intervention water borehole projects have been done in deserving communities like Effium and the rice clusters at Iboko, Onu Igboji and Oso Edda.
All these and more which constitute the phenomenal returns to Ebonyi people's electoral investment in Apostle David Nweze Umahi have vindicated them for choosing God's David in 2015 over fringe politicians. From all indications, that electoral venture was worth it. That is why Ebonyi voters are set to repeat it come 2019.
As I congratulate Ebonyi people, I appreciate Governor Umahi for successfully discharging the duties of his social contract with Ebonyi people beyond expectations.
It is well with Ebonyi state!
SOURCE :The Nigerian Voice (local news)