Ebonyi At 23: The Challenge Of Umahism
Another anniversary of the creation of Ebonyi State - The Salt Of The Nation - is around the corner. Plato, the Greek philosopher, posited that "An unexamined life is not worth living". Like all anniversaries, this 23rd anniversary of Ebonyi State provides an opportunity for stock-taking for the state, her people and the leadership of the state, the pinnacle of which Engr. David Umahi presently occupies. It is this universal tradition of appraisal or stock-taking that makes anniversaries very monumental occasions especially for leaders. While leaders who successfully discharged the duties of their social contracts with the people look forward to anniversaries in order to flaunt their scorecards for the world to see, failed leaders approach anniversaries with tremulous fear, panic and hysterical propaganda. Whichever category any given leader falls in, one sure thing is that anniversaries must surely come and leaders' stewardship would be subjected to assessment by the people.
For Ebonyi State, her people and her leader - Chief David Umahi, the 23rd anniversary of Ebonyi State is certainly a period for crossfires of warm and hearty celebrations known as Umahism. Ebonyi State and her people, on one hand, will be celebrating and glorifying God for His graces which availed them the discernment to invest their votes in Engr. Umahi's political brand in 2015 and 2019 notwithstanding the effusive negative propaganda lined up against him; Governor David Umahi and his team, on the other hand, will equally be celebrating Ebonyi people for the opportunities to make positive history in Ebonyi State. Like the David of the Bible, Umahi will sing psalms to the glory of omnipotent God for the graces of vision, ingenuity, courage and political will to make good use of the monumental opportunities bequeathed on him by Ebonyi people for the blessing of mankind and for the advancement of God's kingdom among men.
The common ground for this multi-dimentional celebration are the network of roads in Abakaliki municipality, Onueke Urban, Afikpo town, Uburu, Ebiaji, Edda, Nkalagu, Ezzamgbo, Nwofe Agbaja, Isu, Ukawu, Onuebonyi echara etc which are all in rigid pavements. The modern overhead bridges at Offia Nwali roundabout, Akanu Ibiam roundabout, St. Magaret International market, Abaomege junction; the industrial clusters, the cost-effective environmental sanitation programme which culminated in the waste recycling plant at Umuoghara are equally reasons for the celebration. The international market, the ecumenical centre, the shopping mall, the EBSU college of medical sciences and Ebonyi School of Nursing both in Uburu are part of the reasons for the funfair. Others are the Ebonyi State Agricultural revolution programme which has ensured food security and made farming a profitable venture, the status-enhancing empowerment and human capital development programmes; the radical efforts to restore and increase water supply in Ebonyi State; the security of lives and property for which Ebonyi State is rated the most peaceful state in Nigeria; the urban renewal programme and the biomass gasification power programme among other numerous projects and programmes which make up the enthralling scorecard of Governor Umahi in Ebonyi State. Surely, time and space will not permit an exhaustive mention of Umahi's revolutionary programmes and radical delivery of good governance to Ebonyi State and her people!
There is no doubt that Governor David Umahi has single-handedly brought more development to Ebonyi State than the previous governors of Ebonyi State put together. By doing that, Umahi has put up a positive challenge to Ebonyi citizenry and Ebonyi posterity. This is true knowing that President Goodluck Jonathan said, "nation-building is a collective task"! This trite submission implies that both the leader and the led have roles to play in the development of the society. So, beyond the clinking of glasses, the dance steps and chants of "Ikenga" and "Akubaroha" in celebration of Umahi's scorecard, Ebonyi citizens have a burning anniversary question to answer. This anniversary question is: Governor David Umahi having built the projects we see and initiated the programmes we have, are the citizens utilizing the projects and programmes at least optimally? This question must be brought into the anniversary celebrations because nothing gives a leader more joy, fulfillment and motivation than when his projects and programmes are fully utilized by his people! An honest answer to that question is a capital "NO"! For instance, when Umahi empowered each of 6520 Ebonyi youths and women drawn from across the state with two hundred and fifty thousand naira business grants, he promised that any beneficiary who grows his business till it is worth a million naira would be rewarded with a cash prize of one million naira only. Of the number that received that grant, none has come forward to make a case for that prize money; and that suggests that they did not invest that grant. Rather, the beneficiaries of the financial grant literarily "ate" what was supposed to be "planted" as business "seed yams"! Those who listened to Coscharis and Dangote state their respective start up capitals know what God can turn N250,000.00k [or even less amount of] "seed" money in the hands of a prudent and faithful small scale entrepreneur into. How many recipients of Akubaroha tricycle increased their fleet to two or more tricycles? What number of beneficiaries of Akubaroha Sienna car bonanza are still using the car? And those who sold theirs, where did they invest the money? How many people who received agricultural loans utilized it well? How many beneficiaries of the agricultural loans and the subsidized agricultural inputs have repaid or are repaying the loan on schedule? In the whole of Ebonyi State, I know only of one man whose commitment to Ebonyi State Agricultural programme was so strong that he preferred being a farmer to being a commissioner. How many other people have truly taken up farming as a business in view of government and inherent incentives of farming as contained in Ebonyi Agricultural Revolution programme? The account of Hon. Sunday Inyima - Ebonyi State Commissioner for Water Resources - about the chilling discoveries of deliberate vandalization of water pipelines between Ezillo and Ezzamgbo is disheartening; and serves as a pointer to the fact that Ebonyi people have not really braced up to the challenge of protecting government projects in their respective dormains.
Besides the business grants and agricultural programme, Umahi is building industrial clusters; has established a department for vocational training; and is taking children of school age who dropped out of school for want of sponsorship back to school. Ebonyi people have positive challenges here too: Adult school drop-outs who are not willing to utilize the adult education programme and graduates of technical courses are challenged to turn Ebonyi State into mini-China using the industrial clusters and the vocational training programmes. The managers of Ebonyi education sector are challenged to produce Ebonyi versions of Chike Obi, Phillip Emeagwali, Ezekiel Izuogu, Chimamanda Adichie et cetera from the Better Education Services Delivery for All, BESDA, programme which has become the rave of the moment in Ebonyi State. Members of Ebonyi State Club of First-Class Graduates for whom Governor Umahi secured jobs at blue-chip federal establishments are challenged to bring laurels to Ebonyi State at the end of their respective careers. Ebonyi traders are positively challenged by the opportunities of a modern international market, modern industrial clusters, comprehensive piece and security and an international cargo airport to intercept and divert the humongous local and International business flow along the trans-saharan highway into Ebonyi State in order to strengthen our economy. Ebonyi State, a home of an impressive array of raw materials and mineral resources, has continued to attract the interests of foreign direct investors. With the explosive infrastructural transformation and the investment drive of Umahi, more foreign direct investments are expected.
In all fairness, Umahi has weaned Ebonyi State from underdevelopment and is still making her great. Umahi has laid a solid foundation for Ebonyi State to excel even in the coming days when of economic draught arising from absence of oil revenue and federal allocations. This is the challenge of Umahism; and the onus lies on the people to take it up by fully exploiting the agricultural and industrial revolutions as well as other programmes to create an alternative economic base for Ebonyi State and achieve greatness for themselves. If Ebonyi people use the occasion of this anniversary to resolve for positive affirmative actions as regards the Umahism challenge, the efforts of Engr. David Nweze Umahi and indeed those of Ebonyi founding fathers as well as the martyrs of the struggle for the creation of Ebonyi State would have been fully rewarded and posterity will be better for it.
I wish Ebonyi State happy anniversary celebration.
Monday Eze Is A Senior Technical Assistant (Media) To Gov. Dave Umahi