How Umahi Turned Ebonyi Into A Huge Construction Site: An Insider’s Account

Source: Eze Monica. C. Ada

“Well, I cannot in all honesty understand how these works have been achieved within this short time and, indeed, in the climate of dire economic shortages of government. I am impressed that you were able to do these works within the cost you mentioned. I can, in all honesty, tell you that the work is far beyond the cost. Now, this is a standard for other states and the Federal Government to emulate. To me, Governor Umahi is one of the few persons who believe that meagre resources could be used to achieve much, if we remove greed, which breeds corruption. Without mincing words, Umahi, is better than some governors in my own party, the APC.”

Engr. Babachir Lawal, a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), made the above statement during his one-day working visit to Ebonyi State, during which he inspected and commissioned some projects undertaken by the 17-month-old administration of the governor, Chief David Nweze Umahi, a Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers. The SGF inspected two dual carriageway fly-overs at the African Trans-Sahara Highway currently under construction, after which he commissioned the Governors’ Lodge, named after the first civilian governor of the state, Senator Sam Egwu, as well as the CBN Road at the Centenary City, Abakaliki.

Not minding that I am a daughter of Ebonyi State, I must confess that I became a proud daughter after reading this historical statement made by a notable official of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration and patriotic Nigerian, on my uncle, Governor Umahi, who has proved that he was committed to taking Ebonyi to the next level. My interest to investigate the veracity or otherwise of the statement credited to the SGF and APC chieftain gave birth to this article.

Please, read on and pass judgment, as you deem fit.

Umahi’s Mission Statement

Our mission is to enhance the welfare of our people, and empower all Ebonyians to be self-reliant, through the compassionate delivery of transparent and God-fearing governance, based on integrity and dignity.

Ebonyi’s Core Values
“In this administration, everything I do must reflect my covenant with God, which he gave to me by himself, namely:-

1. To serve Ebonyi State with the fear of God
2. To prosper Ebonyi State with the word of God
3. To make Ebonyi State the number one economy in the whole country

4. To passionately help the widows and the oppressed

5. To build a befitting place of worship like Solomon did, so that any Ebonyian that is faced with any difficulty anywhere in the world and turns to the direction of the temple, and calls upon the name of the Lord, God will answer such prayers.”

Works Commissioner a Round Peg in A Round Hole

Engr Nweze Fidelis Kings (MNSE), was on July 3, 2015 appointed into the State Executive Council and designated the Honourable Commissioner for Works & Transport, by His Excellency David Umahi (FNSE, FNATE, FCAI).This great son of Ebonyi was charged with the enormous responsibilities of coordinating the activities of the ministry, and implementing the bulk of the policy thrust of this present administration. A notable workaholic and a seasoned administrator, he is the tool in the hands of the executive governor in the ongoing revolution, which has gradually turned the state into a huge construction site.

The commissioner delights and takes pleasure in ensuring that high-quality jobs are delivered before stipulated time frame. This energetic and committed leader visits up to five construction sites in different locations within the morning hours, before he resumes in the office at , and still inspects more before close of work daily. An astute administrator, Engr Kings is a humble man full of zeal, and with a lion’s heart.

The success story of the Ministry of Works and Transport is traced to the leadership’s trust and total commitment to God, who inspired the governor to appoint a man who has the fear of God to pilot the affairs of the core ministry. Within the first month of his appointment, the honourable commissioner renovated an old building in the ministry and converted same to a befitting Chapel, for compulsory weekly prayers and thanksgiving by all the staff and other occupants of the ministry’s premises. During Special Quarterly Thanksgiving Services, the proceeds are used to reach out to prisoners, Motherless Baby’s Home, Old People’s Home and hospitals, where bills of indigent patients (who cannot afford their bills) are settled, and affected patients discharged.

The Umahi administration is generally anchored on a divine mandate, equity, love and unity of all Ebonyi people – irrespective of political, ethnic and religious affiliations - through equal distribution of road infrastructure in all the zones of the state. We are confident to get to our desired destination of being the number one state in the country.

Below is a comprehensive list of completed and ongoing projects in all the three senatorial zones, and Abakaliki, the state capital.

Genesis of Ebonyi As Huge Construction Site
To actualise its noble objective of zero tolerance for dusty roads all-around the state capital and in the hinterlands, the state government under the leadership of Engr Umahi, procured equipment for road construction, reconstruction and maintenance of roads in both urban and rural areas in the state. In addition to the construction equipment, the government also procured pick-up vans as project vehicles, to facilitate speedy service delivery in the ministry.

The Ministry of Works and Transport, saddled with the responsibility of massive road construction, has since inception of this administration embarked on reconstruction of dilapidated roads in the urban areas. The success story so far is there for all to judge.

On December 3, 2015, Umahi flagged off the construction of some rural roads in the three senatorial zones, in addition to the 50-kilometre roads within the urban area, which he had earlier flagged off on December 1, 2015. These roads include: Amasiri–Uburu –Okposi Road for Ebonyi South; Nkalagu–Ehamufu Road for Ebonyi Central; Hill-top –Nwofe Road for Ebonyi North. This is in fulfillment of his campaign promises of running an all-inclusive government where all Ebonyi people will be carried along. The construction of a 15-kilometre road for each of the 13 local government areas in the state has since commenced.

The governor has also graciously approved the hiring of some expatriate engineers for the purpose of transference of knowledge and skills to our indigenous engineers, with a view to stabilising the technical manpower of the ministry.

Today, a drive through our urban roads will make an indigene born in this city (Abakaliki) to miss his way, as all the usual pot-holes and diversions are now gone and quickly replaced with asphalted, concrete-based and new drainage systems fully in place, to ensure durability and longevity of the roads.

Construction of the First Fly-Overs
The fact remains that the people of Ebonyi State only knew about fly-overs when they visit other state capitals in the federation. But, Umahi’s administration has boldly embarked on the construction of three fly-over bridges in the state capital, and a pedestrian-crossing, the first of its kind since the creation of Ebonyi State. The fly-overs located at Akanu-Ibiam Roundabout, Presco Junction and at the International Market, are built to ease human and vehicular movements along the Trans-African Sahara Road, which connects most northern states and Cameroon. The pedestrian-crossing at the gate of the permanent site of the Ebonyi State University will, on completion, ensure that crossing the busy Abakaliki–Enugu Expressway by students will be hitch-free. The construction of the fly-overs, which have not lasted up to eight months, have reached advanced stages of completion.

Roads Under Construction
The number of roads undergoing construction and reconstruction, both within the urban and rural roads seem to be unquantifiable, as excavators make new routes on daily basis, courtesy of His Excellency, who has vowed to develop Ebonyi – despite limitations and scarce resources – with diligence, sincerity of purpose and prudent management of funds. It is, indeed, marvellous in our eyes and we give God all the glory for making all things new in his own time.

Rehabilitated/Asphalted Roads

Water Works Road, Ogoja–Onuebonyi–Rice Mill Road, Gunning Road, New Market Road, Nkaliki–EBBC–EBHA–Abakaliki LGA Road, Hosanna Park, Hosanna Street, Ezika Street (Yam market), Old Park, Jos Street, Obiri Street, Nwodo Street, Mberi Street, Awolowo Street, Nsugbe Street, Uga Street, Ezza Road, Udensi Round-about–Mile 50, Adiq Suite Road, Gulf Round-about–Quarry–Fide Mbam Road, Hausa Quarters, Onwe Road, Vanco Junction to Government House, Convent Road, Meat Market, New Market Road, Udemezue Street, Arondizuogu Street, Nkwogu Street and Zik Avenue.

Ongoing Roads, Fly-Over Bridges In Abakaliki

Akanu Ibiam fly-over, Presco Junction flyover, International Market flyover, EBSU Campus-gate Pedestrian crossing, Udensi Bridge, Haraca–Oshim Igbele Street, Obi Street, Watchman Street, Ibe/Obodoukwu Street, Osborn La-Palm–Ogbaga Road, Eze & Bros–Oroke Onuoha Road, Erkanka Street, Agbado-Ozo Street from FRSC, Aguogboriga layout, Police Quarters internal road, Mbam-Agbo Extension (a virgin road), Mbam-Agbo Street, from G Hostel, Off Hatchery Road, Ezeadikwa Street, Ugo Dan Street, Emefor Street, Agbaja Road (from Chosen church, IDU Hall), Omougo Street, Itapa Azobu, opposite Grace Court, Amike Aba Road, Edema Close, Ezekeikwo Street, Mgbabor Street, Oroke Onuoha Road, St Patrick’s Church–Ogbaga Road (swamp), Diamond Point Road, road behind Staff Development Centre, Anulo Junction–Nwogodo Road.

Ndiagu Layout, Abakaliki, Onoogolu Street, Isuofia Street, Okeke Street, Ugwuoba Street, Nsukka Street, Nawfia Street, Akaeze Street, Mbadugha Street, Neni Street, Ukpo Street, Uke Street, Anekwe Street, Igbokwe Street, Iwolo Street, Adazi Street, Atuenyi Street, Mbanefo Street, Ezejiofor Street, Nnewi Street, Abagana Street.

Ongoing projects in Ebonyi North
Ezzamgbo–Effium Road, Hill Top–Nwofe road, Ishieke–Odomoke road (Nwiboko Obodo Road), Amike–Abegu-Ozibo bridge, Amachara–Oferekpe–Ovuduechi Road.

Ongoing projects in Ebonyi Central
Enyibichiri Ikwo Road, Ndufu–Alike–FUNAI Road, Nkalagu–Ehamufu Road.

Ongoing projects in Ebonyi South
Amasiri–Okposi–Uburu road, Ezzama–Oshiri-Onicha-Isu-Uburu Road, Amasiri–Nguzu–Owutu Edda Road, Amangwu–Owutu Edda Bridge, Ihenu channelisation/culverts, Ntezi–Agba–Isu Road.

Durability of Projects
In other to ensure durability and longevity of these roads, the Ebonyi State Ministry of Works and Transport, through the Civil Engineering Department, collects and maintains a scientific inventory on the terrain, road distance and soil type within the state in the ministry’s soil laboratory. Designs and estimated cost of construction of selected roads are kept in advance, awaiting the schedule of road construction as directed by the state executive council, chaired by a visionary-and-infrastructure-thirsty governor.

Recall that on several occasions – due to the slippery nature of the soil texture of the roads leading to the Old and Hosanna Parks – lorries and heavy-duty vehicles fall on the way, resulting in loss of properties. But all these are now stories of the past, as transporters and vehicle owner now enjoy smooth and safe drive to and fro the parks; from the axis of the New Market to the Gunning Road axis. At Ogoja Rice Mill – Onuebonyi Road, it looked as a near impossibility, considering the level of decay the road suffered earlier, before the intervention of His Excellency, barely within three months of his inception of office. At Nkaliki–EBBC–EBHA–Abakaliki LGA Headquarters road, the remarkable magic of concrete-based roads achieved the most enviable result, as road users, some EXCO members, legislators and artisans are overwhelmed by the precedence recorded by the engineer-turned-governor’s innovative moves to give the state the best in solid and durable road network.

Residents of Udemezue Street never dreamt their plight will end so soon, even though they had faith in the present administration, they never expected it to happen so soon. His Excellency Governor Umahi, at a church service marking the 2015 independence anniversary celebration, openly directed that work should immediately commence at the Udemezue Street, having plied the road leading to the Saint John the Evangelist’s Catholic Church, Okpaugwu, Abakaliki, and felt the pains residents pass through on daily basis to access their places work, take their children to school, and go to church.

The asphalting of Ogoja Road is extended to Government House- Mile 50, Ezza Road–Presco Junction–Adiq Suites. Others are Onwe Road, Ejiofor Street, Nnodo Street, Water Works Road, Uga Strret, Fide Mbam Road, from Gulf Course to Ogoja–Enugu Expressway and Ndizuogu Street. All the major streets in the capital city have been rid of pot-holes, as a palliative measure, before asphalting will commence in earnest.

I will conclude this treatise by once again quoting SGF Lawal: “Let me, in all frankness, commend the Ebonyi people for choosing Umahi as their governor, and interest the general public to note that the Presidency was fully in support of the governor’s developmental strides, as the present Federal Government was not interested in which party any governor belonged, but whether or not such administration was doing a wonderful job for their people.”

At a period when many States can’t pay their staff salaries while Engr. Dave Umahi pays and still embark upon all these numerous projects, we Ebonyians should not only be proud of our own but must do our best to support and promote this divine gift to our State to enable him achieve more for our dear State..

Finally, I say kudos to my uncle, mentor and leader, Governor Umahi. I pray that God grants you the Wisdom of Solomon, to enable you make a difference in Ebonyi State politics in particular and Nigeria as a whole.

Eze Monica. C. Ada, Technical Assistant (TA) on Media To Ebonyi State Government can be reached through [email protected]