Umahi: Behind Ebonyi’s success story

By Valentine Amanze

In Nigeria many believe the problem with the country is poor leadership.
While the issue cannot be contested in a country of more than 180 million people, yet there are some exceptional cases in the South East Nigeria.
Ebonyi State Governor, Mr. David Umahi, in the past three and half years, has written his name with gold in the book of leadership excellence in Nigeria through his development projects.
Aside Ebonyi, the other state that has witnessed massive development in the South East is Anambra State between 2007 and 2014, when the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) current Vice Presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, was the state governor.
The most recent is in Ebonyi State, where the current Governor, Mr. Dave Umahi of the PDP, has demonstrated that a jungle could be transformed into a beautiful place in just three years.
Before his emergence in the political landscape of the state, Ebonyi was regarded as the most underdeveloped state in the South East of Nigeria. The story is not the same since the young engineer, Umahi, became governor not quite long agao.
Umahi entered public service in 2007 as the acting chairman of the Ebonyi State chapter of the People's Democratic Party. From 2009 to 2011, he served as state chairman of the party. During the term, he served a year on the governing board of the Federal Medical Centre in Asaba as its chairman.
In 2011, Umahi became deputy governor of Ebonyi State on a ticket with Martin Elechi.
Umahi was elected to the role of Governor on April 12, 2015.
Having armed himself with the experience in the both private and public sectors, Umahi dwarfed all his political enermies in the state with his popularity and public acceptance.
While some say that his second term ambition will not be rosy considering the federal might behind the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC),
Senator Sunny Ogbuorji, the governor played it down by donating N5 million recently to Ogbuorji to enable him change his posters and billboards
with good ones in a spirit of sportsmanship.
The governor, while making the pledge at Ishielu Local Government Area, said that contesting the election against him did not make anyone an enemy.
As he challenged his political enermies to showcase their contributions to the development of the state, the detribalized governor was confident that his records on job creation, agriculture, provision of social amenities, education and many others would win the forthcoming governorship election for him on the platform of PDP.

Job creation and youth empowerment

On job creation and youth empowerment, Umahi appointed over 1,000 aides on assumption of office in 2015 to tackle the menace of poverty among the teeming youths of the state.
He confirmed this in Egunkwo community, Onicha Local Government Area of the state during a special thanksgiving service organised by Caring Heart Vanguards, an umbrella body of graduates that secured appointments in federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies, courtesy of the lawmaker representing Ohaozara Onicha and Ivo federal constituency in the National Assembly, Linus Okorie.
The governor also revealed that more than 1,000 political appointees had been engaged by the administration, comprising commissioners, Special Advisers, Special Assistants, Technical Assistants, and Senior Special Advisers.
But his opponents’ allegation of a "privatized government" fell flat in the face of the fact of Umahi's involvement of over 800 youths, men, women drawn from all parts of the state in his administration as Senior Technical Assistants, Technical Assistants and Liaison Officers. The young men and women have become a leadership resource pool for the state. They are part of Umahi's successes in the security, environment, power, road and other sectors, his supporters say.
Besides, a transparent administration like Umahi's which has continued to publish all its projects, project locations and project costs for the public to see cannot be described by any sincere person as a "privatized government". When it comes to labour relations, Governor Umahi is one of the nine saints among the 36 Nigerian Governor's who do not owe workers' salaries.
At the height of the economic recession in 2016, Umahi increased Ebonyi workers' salaries by 5%. While scores of workers die daily in Kogi, Imo, Edo and Osun states due to non-payment of monthly salaries, Ebonyi is the only state which pays workers annual mega bonuses known as "13th month salary" in Ebonyi labour parlance. For all these and more, Ebonyi workers honoured Governor Umahi with the title of "Enyi Ndi Oru Ebonyi," which translates to friend of Ebonyi workers.
As a private citizen, Umahi's investments in the society through his foundation far outweigh the exaggerated life-time scorecard of Senator Sunny Ogbuoji as recently brandished in the press. Umahi took the tradition of lifting the people into office, projecting it into the realm of divinity by making it one of the five covenants of his administration with God. This explains the explosive classical empowerment programmes which have continued to be the trademark of his administration.

Infrastructure

When one visits the state, the first that will draw his attention is the
beautiful Offiah Nwali overhead bridge at Presco junction, good and durable roads on rigid pavement which make up the nework of roads in Abakaliki municipality, under the second overhead bridge at Akanu Ibiam roundabout and through Abakaliki - Afikpo highway to the internal road network in Edda land which were all built by David Umahi on rigid pavement.

Peaceful Leadership

It would be recalled that Umahi ended the war between Ezillo and Ezza-Ezillo communities on permanent terms and took his peace moves to other warring communities in Ebonyi State. The success of Umahi's peace programmes convinced President Muhammadu Buhari to appoint Umahi as the chairman of the National Peace Committee on the heardsmen and farmers clashes which almost tore Nigeria to shreds. Umahi visited all the IDP camps in Nigeria, the heardsmen and other parties to the snarl, preaching peace and restraint to them. The relative peace the country enjoys today is largely due to the efforts of Umahi's committee. Umahi is the only governor in Nigeria that has a non-indigene as commissioner.

Industry and Agriculture

In his efforts to diversify the economy of Ebonyi State, Umahi stream-lined the mining industry and, in the process, attracted a foreign direct investment through which a Chinese investor is building a smelting plant in Ebonyi south. Umahi's Agricultural revolution in Ebonyi State guaranteed food security and has continued to serve as reference points to the hierarchy of all opposition parties in the state.
There is no doubt that the report of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, is by all standards credible and preferred by Ebonyi people.
The training of Umahi as a civil engineer and his prowess which he has demonstrated through his infrastructural revolution in Ebonyi State stands him out as the fundamental need of Ebonyi State in 2019 among the many who jostle for the gubernatorial position of Ebonyi State. Ebonyi State needs experienced and politically courageous Umahi in 2019 to enable him wrap up the infrastrucrural and agricultural revolution as well as the all-round positive developmental narrative of Ebonyi State which commenced on May 29, 2015.

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