For those who knew Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital, before now, it used to be a little above a glorified local government with little amenities and road infrastructure, where one could trek round the developed areas within few hours.
Today, the story has changed. Abakaliki and some parts of the state have not only expanded but have been transformed beyond what was ever expected when the battle for who takes over the leadership of the agrarian state from Martin Elechi, the former governor, began.
Umahi is not new in the politics of Ebonyi. For instance, an engineer by profession, he was the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) chairman during the second tenure of Governor Sam Egwu, who supervised the coming of Elechi. Umahi also was the deputy governor under Elechi. The journey was not easy for Umahi to clinch the office as governor. As deputy, he fought a strong battle with the then incumbent governor Martin Elechi, who did not support his candidature.
But then, his supporters speak in tandem that “This is where the divine mandate manifested in full because the former governor instead of supporting him, shifted support to a party that was not known in the state”.
According to a staunch member of the party in the state, who spoke to BDSUNDAY on condition of anonymity, “Had Umahi emerged through the help of Elechi, the glory would have been misapplied and misdirected. Elechi would be taking the glory instead of God himself.”
Elechi also refused to recognise the agreement of shifting the position of the state governor to the southern part of the state (power rotation). To make a long story short, David Umahi was on May 29, 2015 sworn in as the executive governor of Ebonyi State.
This month, precisely, May 29, Umahi will mark his four years in office with tremendous achievements; changing the state to one of the fastest growing states in Nigeria. On that date, he will also be inaugurated for a second term in office.
Umahi’s zeal to transform Ebonyi was born out of the experience he gathered as both former chairman of PDP in the state and deputy governor. His policy trust on the industrialisation was key, which he began with the construction of three industrial clusters across the three senatorial zones aimed at developing each sector. These include agriculture, technology and human empowerments. As an engineer, he engaged new technology in constructions with particular reference to roads where 8 inches concrete roads started springing up in the state. Parks, markets and streets started wearing new looks. Pedestrian crossing, flyovers, street lights, water fountains were also built to change the face of Ebonyi, transforming it to one of the fastest growing economies in Nigeria.
Empowerment for youths and widows has taken a new shape in the state, positively impacting lives of many. Today, many youths who were mere street urchins have become employers of labour through the rich empowerment programmes of the Umahi administration.
Some of the projects Umahi started and completed within his four years in office include three 700-metre twin ﬂyover bridges at Akanu Ibiam Roundabout, Ofﬁa Nwali Junction, the International Market bypass and a pedestrian bridge at Ebonyi State University permanent site gate. Others are roads and bridges constructed within Onueke-Ezzama-Oshiri-Onicha road, 35km; Obiozara-Onicha road, 8.3km; Uburu-Presbyterian Church road,12km; Umuchima road, 7.5km; Okposi road, 23km, Akaeze–Ivo road,15km; a section of Abakaliki–Aﬁkpo federal highway, 14.5km; Abakaliki internal roads, 150km, with one major bridge; 7 bridges along Nkalagu–Ehamufu road,15km; Abaomege-Ukawu-Ugwulangwu-
The current administration in Ebonyi State has also contributed hugely in Agriculture, Education, Health and other sectors. As worker-friendly governor, Umahi has cordial relationship with workers in the state which could be a major reason he had a landslide victory during the last governorship election.
Before his arrival on the scene, Nkalagu was known for its rich mineral deposits and cement production in the entire southeast of Nigeria. But these endowments were just lying untapped. In fact, the company was a shadow of itself. But after his visit to China, the governor promised to set up two cement factories in the state.
He also took up the Abakaliki water reticulation to ensure adequate supply of pipe borne water to every nook and cranny of the state, to increase the public health status of his people. In his first tenure, Umahi also built the Ebonyi State School of Nursing and Midwifery.
It is believed in the state that the next four years, beginning from May 29, 2019, would see the people of Ebonyi to the Promised Land they never expected so soon.
Regis Anukwuoji, Abakaliki