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Lessons In The Honour Conferred On Gov. Umahi By Icpc

By Monday Eze
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A new vista was opened in the on-going war against official graft in Nigeria on Tuesday, 10th October 2017 when the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC, appointed the governor of Ebonyi state, Chief David Nweze Umahi, as "Anti - Corruption Commander". This rare honour, which translates to the anti-corruption ambassador, was conferred on Umahi by the Acting Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC, Barr Bako Abdullahi at Abuja in recognition of Governor David Umahi's anti-corruption crusade since the inception of his Divine mandate administration on 29th May 2015 in Ebonyi state. Umahi who did not hide his zero-tolerance for corruption commenced investigations through Ebonyi State Legislature into the management of local government council funds by the previous administration especially between October 2011 and May 2015.

The report of the investigations revealed high-level corruptions and abuse of financial regulations like award of fictitious contracts, lodging of council funds in private bank accounts of government officials or those of their spouses and children. Goaded by the startling revelations of the council funds probe, Governor Umahi took his anti-corruption searchlight to contracts of ongoing or uncompleted projects inherited from previous administrations like the Ebonyi Trade Centre, the dualisation of Abakaliki - Enugu expressway, Ebonyi power plant, the centenary secretariat, the international market et cetera. In those places, joint-mearsurement exercises with representatives of the respective companies handling the various projects revealed grafts of humongous financial implications which forced some of the accomplice companies to drop their fictitious claims while the rest of the companies abandoned their equipments and other stakes in Ebonyi state and fled in a futile attempt to run away from the long arms of the law. Some other projects like Ebonyi power plant at the centenary city was certified by unbiased professionals as unviable on the grounds that the projected cost of fueling the plant was three times more than the projected value of its total output.

To prevent opportunities for corruption in his administration, Governor David Nweze Umahi, reconstituted and repositioned the Fiscal Responsibility Commission, revised and strengthened the financial procedures and regulations to block all channels of financial leakages. Thereafter, Governor Umahi embarked on an unprecedented anti-corruption crusade at the local government areas and in all ministries, departments and agencies in Ebonyi state which culminated in the anti-corruption seminar held at the Akanu Ibiam International Conference Center, Abakaliki on 10th July, 2017. The well-attended anti-corruption conference attracted the acting chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission in the person of Barr. Bako Abdullahi as well as other critical stakeholders in the anti-corruption war. On the heels of the Abakaliki anti-corruption seminar came another anti-corruption seminar in Abuja on 10th October, 2017. Governor Umahi and the members of Ebonyi State Executive Council, the speaker of Ebonyi State House of Assembly and members of the state legislature as well as the chairmen of all the local government areas in Ebonyi state were in attendance. It was in that event that ICPC through its acting chairman honoured the wonder-working Governor of Ebonyi state, His Excellency, Chief David Nweze Umahi, as the "Anti-corruption commander".

By honouring Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi state in this way, ICPC has introduced a creative and an equally effective dimension to the fight against corruption which is worthy of commendation and emulation by other sister anti-corruption agencies if Nigeria really wants to win the war against corruption. This creative and effective dimension is that while punishing corrupt public officials, honest and sincere public officials should be encouraged through commendation and honours such as the one given to Governor Umahi by ICPC. This type of honour, apart from giving people reasons to be honest, equally serves as positive challenges to the honoured to continue on the path of integrity. The transformation of Ebonyi land and Ebonyi people through concrete rehabilitation of all the roads in Abakaliki municipality, the Hilltop - Nwofe Agbaja virgin road, Onueke and Afikpo internal road networks, 15km road in each of the 13 local council areas in Ebonyi state, the intervention in the reconstruction of three federal roads in Ebonyi state with a total distance of 54.5 kilometers; the three solid overhead bridges and one pedestrian crossover bridge all along the trans-saharan highway, the waste recycling plant at Edem Umuoghara, the street lights along all the roads in Abakaliki and in the 13 council secretariats, the virology center, the reduction of Ebonyi State University's school fees at a time when all other universities are increasing their fees, the resumption of oversea scholarship programme, and the empowerment of Ebonyi youths, women and the widows as well as the aged and so on are possible under this harsh economic weather because of Umahi's zero-tolerance for corruption. These life-enhancing projects prove that the ordinary Ebonyi masses are the ultimate beneficiaries of Governor Umahi's anti-corruption crusade.

It is heartwarming that at a time when corruption has become a perennial impediment to the growth and development of Nigeria and in deed the African continent, God has raised men like Umahi to blaze the trail of honesty, probity and integrity for others to see and follow. This is enough to say that there are other men like Governor Umahi and they all represent beacons of hope for a new corruption-free Nigeria where the public trust is managed in the interest and for the benefit of the ordinary people to whom power belongs. Public officers are therefore enjoined to copy Umahi's shining example and to partner with anti-graft agencies to sensitize people on the evils of corruption, while other anti-graft agencies should equally adopt ICPC's novel approach of reinforcing positive character and punishing vices.

May God bless Nigeria.