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David Umahi: Building The Road To His Second-tenure On Rigid Pavement

By Monday Eze, The Nigerian Voice, Abakaliki

Before 29th May 2015 when Engr. David Nweze Umahi took over the reigns of power as the third elected Governor of Ebonyi state, one of the greatest needs of the young state was accessible road network. This is expected because apart from the governor of old Anambra state, Chief Jim Ifeanyichukwu Nwobodo, who constructed the Abakaliki ring road which ran across all the local government areas in the defunct Abakaliki senatorial district some 39 years ago, no other administration built meaningful roads in Ebonyi state until 2015. Even at that, the free fall of the Nigerian economy in 2015 made the hope of road projects mere wishful thinking. For Umahi, a man fully prepared for forseen and unforseen challenges of governance, the economic recession was merely a catalyst for prosperity. While other state governments were overwhelmed by the recession, Umahi commenced the construction of Nkaliki road, not with asphalt, but on rigid pavement which is also known in the layman's language as concrete road. That marked the launch of the first-of-its-kind infrastructural revolution which targeted the construction of 10 Ebonyi roads on rigid pavement within six months. This first-phase target of ten roads was achieved in four months; that was two months earlier than scheduled.

In a media chat held in the conference hall of Ebonyi State Ministry of Works on Tuesday August 7th, Engr. Fidelis Nweze, a shrewd and thorough-bred civil engineer, who is the anchorman of the infrastructural revolution and Ebonyi state commissioner for Works said that the preference of concrete roads by Governor David Nweze Umahi's administration was hinged on the fact that "rigid pavement or concrete roads are the best for places like Ebonyi where there is sufficient rainfall." According to Engr. Nweze "we discovered that asphalt is not a friend with rain". Continuing, Nweze said the need to break the vicious circle like Ebonyi people witnessed in Nkwegu - FUNAI and other roads where "most governments when they construct roads, before the end of their first tenure, the roads will go with them ... and subsequent government will begin to invest the taxpayers' money in the roads again" made the Umahi administration "change from the usual (asphalt) to the unusual (rigid pavement or concrete roads). Engr. Nweze expressed joy that his principal, Governor David Umahi has "done marvelously well" through the infrastructural revolution. He added that to the chagrin of the Thomases who doubted the feasibility of the infrastructural revolution, Ebonyi has become a succes story, having achieved in three years "75 percent" of good road network in Abakaliki and other satellite urban areas. Engr. Nweze credited this feat to the "Christ-like" disposition of Governor Umahi to the discharge of the public trust bestowed on him through the ballot box by Ebonyi people. The soft-spoken commissioner enjoined the press and the clergy whom he sees as society's moral compass to adopt a comprehensive outlook on public office-holders by commending those who do well like Governor David Umahi as a way of motivating them; and to censure bad leaders as a way of calling them to order.

Investigations on the score-card of the Divine mandate administration of Engr. David Nweze Umahi reveal a glut of high-profile achievements in the road sector in Ebonyi state. In Umahi's infrastructural revolution, urban roads, rural roads and even federal roads in Ebonyi state were not left out. The high-points of the road revolution in Ebonyi state since 29th May 2015 included timely job-delivery arrangement where a 2.5-kilometre road [Udemezue street] was delivered in fifty days; durable jobs with half-a-century guarantee on the roads; cost-effectiveness; transparent bidding and procurement process where the name, distance, number of carriage ways as well as contract sum are published for public consumption and criticism; and infusion of local content in the form of materials and manpower (local engineers and expertise). As at May 29th which marked the third anniversary of Governor Umahi's administration, he delivered two 800-metre long twin overhead bridges, 78 roads on rigid pavement to Ebonyi people! So far, the total amount owed Ebonyi State Government over reconstruction of federal roads in Ebonyi state as recently announced by both the Federal Executive Council and the National Assembly Committee on Works is about N33 billion naira. With work on-going at the 25.4km Abaomege - Ishinkwo Ukawu - Okposi road which was built in 1958 by the Federal Government and other federal roads in Ebonyi state, the bill is still running.

The number of Umahi's roads in Ebonyi state has continued to increase on daily basis as one more twin overhead bridge, a glass-tunnel bypass and many other roads are getting ready for commissioning. Even with this impressive score-card, Umahi has refused to rest on his oars. Engr. Fidelis Nweze revealed that a number of roads have been surveyed, advertised for bidding and will form the next batch of roads to be constructed as soon as the rains subside come October, 2018. Some of them are Effium section of Ezzamgbo - Effium road, the jinxed Egu Uwhuo bridge, the 16.5km, Nkaliki - Oriuzor - Onueke road, the second phase of Onueke internal road, the 33.3 km Ntezi - Agba - Isu road and Amuro - Amasiri dual carriage way.

Since Umahi took over the reigns of power in Ebonyi state, Ebonyi roads have continued to testify that the powers which Governor David Nweze Umahi sought and got in 2015 and is seeking again in 2019 are the powers to do good to Ebonyi people! People from different parts of the world who have visited Ebonyi state and Ebonyi masses are in consensus ad idem that David Umahi has delivered. Reliable voices from the four corners of the world and from all nooks and crannies of Ebonyi state have continued to pour encomia on Umahi for his road-sector reform. For example, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Thomas Arkwright said that "Ebonyi roads [built by Governor Umahi] are the best"; former President Olusegun Obasanjo described David Umahi as "a doer and an achiever"; and while to Ebonyi people, Engr. David Nweze Umahi is simply "the Road-Master"! From the foregoing, it is clear that the David Nweze Umahi infrastructure profile alone has over-awed the opposition parties who have no reason to campaign against his second-term project. It is therefore safe to say that, Umahi, the Road-Master of Ebonyi state who is the pride of his party, PDP, and the envy of the opposition parties in Ebonyi state, having paved the road to his second-term with rigid pavement is bound to have a smooth and hitch-free ride to victory come 2019!