By Saviour Ekpe
Ebonyi State is blessed with Engr. Chief David Nweze Umahi, the fifth Governor and third democratically elected Executive Governor of Ebonyi State after its creation in the year 1996 (precisely 1st of October) alongside with Zamfara, Bayelsa, Gombe, Nasarawa and Ekiti States with its capital city in Abakaliki through the instrumentality of the then Head of State, General Sani Abacha from part of Enugu and Abia States. Generally known as the ‘Salt of the Nation’ apparently because of the large deposits of saltwater in the state at the Okposi and Uburu Salt Lakes. Ebonyi is an alternate form of Ebony (Latin and Greek) literally means, “black wood”.
Blessed with this great leader and Servant of all who is an Engineer by profession and an Apostle by calling, the people of Ebonyi made the right choice in 2015 and the best decision in re-electing Engr. Umahi in 2019 to complete his vision and bring it to a reality for the good of the people of the state, South East in particular and Nigeria in general. The governor, while outlining and making public his achievements and people-oriented programs, which have a direct bearing on the people of the state, explained reasons, why he is taking certain decisions among them, included the rationale behind his determination to create the Ministry of Human Capital Development and Monitoring, “this Ministry is saddled with the responsibility of what we do to empower our people. And in doing this, 3,000 youths have been empowered and women with 250million naira grants. Five hundred and twenty youths were empowered with 130 million naira and each collected 250,000 Naira each. We have bought over 400 tricycles for our youths when we heard some Okada riders in Anambra state are from Ebonyi State. And I said, I must put a stop and the story has changed in that direction. 405 wives of security officers were given 250,000 cash to start agribusiness. We have given 100,000 Naira each to 4000 windows to start petty trading. We have our pastors and clergymen and other religious bodies we gave 500M to start a business. We have given 98 Sienna Buses to some of our youths”.
As an Apostle, Umahi takes the heart of compassion to Government House by strengthening the Department of Religion and Welfare Matters to give succour to the less privileged in the state, especially people who could not afford medical bills in public hospitals, “the Department of Religion and Welfare Matters is very important to us. Every month, we give out 50million to release our people in various hospitals. Fr. Abraham Nwali goes to all the hospitals in the state to release our people who have been given menial jobs because they don’t have money to pay. We also give them money and rice and set them free. Through this program, a lot of indigent people are identified and empowered. You may not understand that in the rural areas, a lot of people can die because of 5,000 and we are bridging that gap and it has a huge success story. A lot of people on tumours have been operated upon; this is a sign to know that when you are healthy that God is so merciful to you”.
On Industrial Clusters, the governor recapped, “we have created 3 industrial clusters, and we have built houses there. We have asked our people to identify the kind of business they want to do and we’ll stand with them to get the facility from CBN. We will also pay counterpart funding. We have the three rice mills to give out, we have five cassava processing plants to give out, we have the fertilizer plant and the pulverization plant and the mushroom plants to give out. We have created Skills Acquisition Vocational College, first of its kind, agricultural vocational College, Gifted Children Academy. The idea is after the Common Entrance Examination, we will select the best 200 children to enrol in this College and that will be last their parents will see them unless during holidays. We will provide them with feeding, accommodation, books and clothing. There’s 24hours power supply in this school. We have sited adult education in the International Market. This has given our people the opportunity to be trading and be schooling. The literacy level of Ebonyi State is rising. Poverty reduction in the eyes of Government is to create opportunities for every Ebonyi person to engage in one form of economic activities or the other. In our own assessment, we have reduced poverty to level it will continue to decrease in Ebonyi State”. “Time will fail me to talk about agriculture where we are planning about 13,000 and 65 hectares of land for our agricultural estate. In the Commerce and industry, we are expanding the international market to over 20,000 Shops. If you go there, you will be amazed because the six new malls we are building there is like what you see in Dragon Mall in Dubai. We also gave 4billion naira to our civil servants to engage in agriculture. We have also given 250, million to our market women. Many Ebonyians have been keyed into the Federal Government social investment programs. Today we have over 400,000 people who are engaged in various cash transfers. We have injected 10 billion through CSDP which is given to developing various communities in the state “Through IFAD agricultural program, we have injected a total of 10.75 billion. Through VCDP annual land development, we have injected 320million yearly, and through FADAMA 1, 2 and 3, a total of 98 million naira were used to empower our people”.
In terms of political appointment and empowerments, the governor noted that more opportunities have been created for citizens to have a taste of luxury life while developing business consciousness in all, “we have about 100 Executive Council Members and each has a brand new vehicle. Most of our religious people are going with a brand new jeep. Most of our leaders and stakeholders are going with a brand new jeep. Our Local Government Chairmen are going about with a brand new jeep. We have brought in 50 brand new electric tricycle and we are replicating another 50 pieces to be manufactured in Ebonyi State. We have also given 130 soft loans to agricultural farmers for a total of 5million. “Our policy is that let him that doesn’t work not eat because we have created enough opportunities for everybody. We have 4,000 Ebonyians we have given political appointments. To us, this gave them the opportunity to learn governance and instil confidence in them and exposed them to business activities”. Ebonyians are in for a total turnaround in as much as a man after God’s heart is saddled with a responsibility of paddling the boat of the state and this is a great sign of leadership Nigeria desires.