The oppositions’ Weak Defense
By Odii Chidera
The Divine Mandate-led administration of the Ebonyi State Governor, Engr. David Nweze Umahi (Akubaraoha) has continued to gather momentum in the project of revolutionizing the State infrastructural and human development is no longer news, what could surprisingly pass for news today is the pocket of tantrum and bad blood brewing from few disgruntled foes and opposition. These are the people who have never seen and can never say anything good about Governor Dave’s leadership though widely applauded.
Consequently, they have developed negative attitude towards the myriad of human and infrastructural facelifts sweeping across the length and breadth of the state. To the opposition, it will be sacrilegious to make allusion to Akubaraoha’s uncommon feats in the construction of 500 kilometers of roads across the length and breadth of the state; over twenty (20) massive roads in Abakaliki, the State capital and construction of roads in all the thirteen (13) Local Government Areas of the State within the lifespan of his administration. The most interesting part of this story is that most of these roads are concrete based with over fifty (50) years life span. The reconstruction of some federal roads such as Afikpo – Abakaliki and Nkalagu roads which have laid an effective schematic for the Effium – Otukpo (Benue) road that would open route from Abakaliki to Abuja through Otukpo Benue State. Other sectoral areas of strong commitment of the governor include:
The myopic eyes of the opposition have also precluded them from peeping beyond their nostril to fathom the governor’s accomplishment in revolutionizing the agricultural sector. This sector has benefited in no small measure in the past years as billions of dollars were injected into it in form of farmer’s empowerment through which they were provided with soft loans to spur their efforts in output increment. This intervention yielded millions of agricultural produce like garri, Millet, Potatoes and rice. Rice milling was revolutionized through the procurement of parboiling machines for the three major rice mills in the State. The Anchor Barrowers programme of the Federal Government through the central bank has been courted and domiciled by Umahi-led administration to make Ebonyi a state to reckon with in the comity of states as long as rice production in Nigeria and Africa is concerned. The Akubaraoha administration in its bid to encourage robust farming activities in the State procured and subsidized fertilizer at very reduced rate to Ebonyi Farming populace, and has continued to help farmers with improved seedlings of rice, maize, yam, cassava stem etc.
As the only state in the South East with the burden of Lassa Fever Epidemic, Governor Umahi-led administration initiated variegated health policies and constructed a modern virology center with state-of-the-art equipment needed to diagnose and isolate cases of Lassa Fever. Many hospitals in the state including our very own, Onicha General Hospital (Nwaegbu) received facelift with new buildings and renovation of dilapidated ones. Ambulances were provided in the three Senatorial Zones of the state for emergency health related issues.
Leadership with Labour Friendly Disposition
Another attribute of the Divine Mandate leadership that has continued to humbug the governor’s foes is the level of robust goodwill and symbiotic relationship his government is enjoying with the labour unions in the state. This father-children watertight relationship is not unconnected with the governor’s seeming magic wand of paying workers’ salaries on or before the 25th day of every month. Pensioners in the state, who were hitherto neglected and owed arrears today, smile home every month with good pay.
The goodwill among workers surged to the crescendo. Sometime last year, precisely on December 18, 2017 when the Ebonyi State Labour Congress decided to reward the governor with a solidarity rally in Abakaliki Township Stadium. The state Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Leonard Nkah, who eulogized the governor for his visionary and purposeful strides since assumption of office in may 29th, 2015. On that occasion, the labour Leader maintained that, “Umahi had for the past two and a half years been improving the lives of Ebonyi people, in general, and Ebonyi workers in particular through the prompt payment of workers’ salaries and allowances as well as annual mega bonuses which had been code named the 13th month salaries at a time when the economic meltdown in the country had forced many states with better economic standing to owe workers’ salaries for months”.
He lauded the state government’s partnership with the Bank of industry (BOI) to provide single digit business loans to spouses of Ebonyi workers. He acknowledged and appreciated the provision of highly subsidized transit buses for Ebony workers and the agricultural revolution programme which he noted provided alternative income and food security for Ebonyi people. Comrade Nkah commended governor Umahi for his administration’s involvement of Ebonyi workers during policy formulation through periodic consultations.
Despite these humongous feats in executing people centric projects that have continued to touch the people’s lives in positive ways, the governor’s foes and opposition have continued to whip up sentiments and alleging that workers welfare has been the administration’s greatest shortcoming. They alleged that the state civil servants salaries are being deducted. They claimed that at the flag off of empowerment programme for youth in the state sometime ago, the governor announced a five percent (5%) increment in workers’ salaries. The opposition have also roundly impugned the state leadership decision to introduce a new tax regime which they alleged ultimately seems to tax everything and everyone in the state in addition to increasing the tax paid under previous administration.
The divine mandate’s adversaries recently rolled out a serious tirade following the administration resolve to revert to the old salary structure for workers from the new structure approved by a previous administration before abdication of office. Notwithstanding these sob and frivolous allegations from opposition camp, the people’s governor has undeterredly continued in his avowed tasks of taking Ebonyi State to the enviable height of his promised Eldorado and this is part of the reasons the Ebonyi State electorate are saying that there is no vacancy in the Ebonyi Government House come February, 2019.
Odii Isaac Chidera Ikechukwu is a Journalist, a public speaker and commentator on contemporary issues based in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.