BY MONICA ADA CHIDINMA EZE
Robin S. Sharma one of the world's premier thinkers on leadership, personal growth and life management with Engr. Dave Nweze Umahi of Ebonyi State in mind stated and I quote, “Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It's about impact, influence and inspiration. Impact involves getting results, influence is about spreading the passion you have for your work, and you have to inspire team-mates and customers”. It is the impact, influence and inspiration that this new power block has brought in the politics of Ebonyi State that influenced this treatise.
It is no longer news that not minding all the odds and obstacles put before his path by former governor, Martin Elechi’s political machine, the indefatigable Engr, Dave. Nweze Umahi won the gubernatorial election in Ebonyi State in 2015 very convincingly. It was an election that radically changed the political mindset and landscape of Ebonyi State and made Umahi the first person from the southern section of the state to become Governor of the state. Barely a year after assuming office, Umahi had already exhibited and impacted his vision so visibly that Nigerians now boast and celebrate that truly a new visionary, focused, determined, patriotic, revolutionary, egalitarian leader. Indeed, everyone seems to agree that Umahi is one leader cast in the mould of Dr Akanu Ibiam, the first Governor of the defunct Eastern Nigeria, who happens to come from the same section of the state like Umahi.
John C. Maxwell an internationally recognized leadership expert, speaker, and author who has sold over 16 million books after critically examining the mission of Engr Umahi of Ebonyi State stated, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way”. In thesame vein, John Quincy Adamsan American diplomat, statesman who served as the sixth president of the United States from 1825 to 1829 stated, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader”.
It is based on these summations by these great minds that Engr. Dave Nweze Umahi who has exhibited that he knows the way and is capable of showing others the way drafted his mission statement to drive his vision in emancipating and anchor the current revolution in Ebonyi State, “Our mission in Ebonyi State 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,” while his core values in governance are: “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.”
In examining the above mission statement and core values of Umahi’s administration and its impact on families and the people of Ebonyi State since he assumed office as governor of Ebonyi State that made Ebonyi State as a state to stand in unison to state that it is either him or nobody else that should have the mandate of the Ebonyians in the 2019 gubernatorial election is the main thrust of this treatise. To do justice to this attempt, I wish that I have the luxury of time to give the reader an elaborate insight into the history of this new power block in the politics of Ebonyi State. But sadly time, as usual, is never my friend. Bear with me as I will only focus on some of the feats of this new kid on the block that has taken it upon himself to give a new meaning to politics and leadership in Ebonyi State.
For avoidance of doubt, I am prompted to do this treatise after I was mandated to visit and cover some of the activities of the governor in my capacity as the Technical Assistant to the Governor on Media, by my immediate boss, Elder Emmanuel Anya, the CPS to the Governor, during the just-ended festivities in the Uburu country home of this unassuming but decisive Governor of Ebonyi State. Though related to the governor, coming from the same town and him marrying one of my beautiful aunties, Chief (Mrs) Rachael Umahi, I couldn’t believe what I saw at the palatial country home of the governor. In my fantasy, I asked my colleagues where exactly I was, because the edifice I saw demonstrates the class and personality of Governor Umahi. A compound that could comfortably host any type of event with a full complete football field, with one of the best stands obtainable in any European stadia. I watched the governor from a distance, as he attended to guests from all parts of the state that came in thousands to pay Christmas and New Year homage; and the type of energy and wisdom showcased by the governor for the ten days I stayed made me to understand why the governor insisted that his coming to power was only through the ‘Divine Mandate of God’, because a man who is not so endowed can’t withstand the type of pressure of welcoming and dancing with various communities for 18 hours daily for 10 days, without breaking down or any sign of fatigue. This made me think that Ray Kroc the founder of the McDonald's Corporation has Umahi in mind when he stated that, “The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves”.
You Must Go For a Second Term, Ebonyi People Tell Umahi
Though it is about two years to the 2019 general elections, the people of Ebonyi State do not want take any chances, as according to them, ‘Umahi has demonstrated commitment towards the development and emancipation of our state and our people, and have gone a step forward to collectively put it to the Governor that he must not only contest the general elections but must stand as the sole candidate representing the aspirations of the entire State.’
Hon Linus Okorie, representing Ohaozara/Onicha/Ivo Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, who after observing and due consultation with various communities that came in thousands during the Christmas and New Year homage to the Governor, moved the motion that Umahi must not only stand for the second term in the 2019 general elections, but must be the sole candidate of PDP and other progressives parties desirous of the greatness and future of Ebonyi State.
Hon Odefa Obasi Odefa the Deputy Speaker of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly, seconded the motion, stating that if the feats of Governor Umahi less than two years in office are anything to go by he should stand as the sole candidate of all the functional political parties in Ebonyi State during the 2019 gubernatorial elections. ‘The fact remains that we in Ebonyi State are not only blessed through Umahi who has exposed our state to unprecedented revolution and transformation of our dear state, but we can proudly stand before any state in the federation in terms of having a visionary leader whose impact is very visible, even to the blind.’
In a similar development, the Senior Technical Advisers and Technical Advisers to the Governor spoke through their leader, Mark Onu: “We are happy with you. Your second tenure is assured. We can only disagree with you if you refuse to present yourself. But I know the good Lord will guide you in all your dealings.” They noted that Umahi had given the state a facelift within a short space of time, and urged him to come out for a second term in office.
Following the steps of the entire state, the people of Ezza North in a separate event have pleaded with Governor Umahi not to go to Abuja until he completes the “good works” he is doing in the state, by contesting the 2019 polls. their spokesman, Mr. Hygienus Nwokwu, said: “Your Excellency, we are highly pleased with the good works you are doing in this our state. We are particularly pleased that our LGA has been well favoured in the area of infrastructural development. You have ensured equity in the spread of projects and appointments. We are happy with you, sir. But, your Excellency, we want to plead with you not to go to Abuja yet. We say this because very soon, people in Abuja will soon ask you to come to the centre. But we say don't go yet, until you have completed the good works you have started. That they did not want a situation where the governor’s “massive projects would not be completed.”
The Governor Reacts
“We are entering the year 2017 with an assured hope for positive changes: Assurances of total turn-around in all areas of our individual and collective lives.
As a government, we are thankful to God that Ebonyi is among the few states of the federation where civil servants went home with their salaries from January to December, and are paid by 15th of every month. We have even done more than that by paying 13thmonth salary to all civil servants. This we have done for two years running.
“That Ebonyi is counted among the few states that do not owe salaries is not only remarkable, it is a testimony of rare ingenuity on the part of my administration.
As we begin 2017, the story will not change. It is equally worthy to note our achievements in the area of agriculture, the health sector, and road construction in the year just ended. The opening up of our rural villages through massive road construction and street light projects across the three senatorial districts is eloquent testimonial of our successes within our 18 months in office. In the capital city Abakaliki, urban renewal and beautification were given priority through streetlights and road rehabilitation/construction.
“Agriculture is one area we have regained national prominence and accolades, even from President, Muhammadu Buhari. It is a thing of joy that Ebonyi is now a reference point in terms of agriculture. I am highly glad that Ebonyians keyed into our vision to make agriculture our principal income earner. We will not lose our focus and vision in this area in 2017.
We cannot be talking about achieving self-sufficiency in agriculture without opening up our local roads, for effective and efficient evacuation of farm produce to our urban markets. Thus, this year 2017, we shall strive assiduously to ensure commencement of work on the Abakaliki Ring Road, which cuts across most of the local government areas in the state.
“In 2017, we shall take our rural electrification project to all the three senatorial districts. Health and Education sectors will not be left out. They will witness quantum leap in terms of improvement in facilities, manpower and, of course, performance. Our intention is to make life in our villages comfortable. By this, we will be able to keep the youths at home where they can engage in noble ventures, especially agriculture.
“To fight poverty in 2017 and effectively too, we shall continue with our empowerment programmes. More of our youths must be engaged through deliberate empowerment policies of my government. Women will not be left out. We shall empower the women in several ways, to ensure they are engaged in productive ventures.
“In the area of security, my government is awake to the challenges of securing lives and property in the state, and will remain so ever. Ebonyi is no longer a safe haven for kidnappers and armed robbers. I am glad to tell Ebonyians that throughout the Yuletide, there was no news of kidnapping or armed robbery in any part of the state.
“I welcome you to 2017: A year of greater hopes and harvests of love, wealth and goodwill for all Ebonyians. God bless you. Have a prosperous and joyous New Year.”
2019 Endorsement justified or not - Be the Judge
That the various communities in Ebonyi State have resolved to endorse Engr Umahi, the indefatigable Governor of Ebonyi State, for the 2019 general elections is to me demonstration of appreciation of gratitude to Umahi's unprecedented feats. This position of Ebonyi people notwithstanding let me at this point critically review some of the unique feats of Umahi that made the Ebonyi people to take this critical stand at this critical time of their chequered history.
Impact of governance
In examining the impact of governance in Ebonyi State under Engr. Dave Umahi, let us listen to what Jackie Robinson one of the more iconic figures in Dodgers and Harold Kushner the spiritual leader at Temple Israel for over 25 years and the well-known author of When Bad Things Happen to Good said about the philosophy of Umahi in the arts of governance, “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives” and. “Caring about others, running the risk of feeling, and leaving an impact on people, brings happiness” respectively.
Today, Ebonyi State is referred to as one huge construction site, and a reference case in terms of revolution in agriculture, and number one state in the area of health delivery to her people. This is particularly in the area of elimination of malaria epidemic. With three solid flyovers almost completed and to be commissioned formally for public use by March, 2017 by President Muahmmadu Buhari, these feats within less than two years in office by this enigma of a leader, let me capture what is happening in Ebonyi State more aptly.
Engr Babachir Lawal, a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) said it all: “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 (Dave Umahi) 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.”
1. Construction of First Fly-overs in Ebonyi State
The fact remains that the people of Ebonyi State see fly-over bridges when they visit other state capitals. 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 fly-overs, which have reached advanced stages of completion, will be commissioned by March this year, all things being equal.
2. Rehabilitation/Asphalting of Roads
These are: 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 Roundabout–Mile 50, Adiq Suite Road, Gulf Roundabout–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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Ongoing projects in Ebonyi Central
Enyibichiri Ikwo Road, Ndufu–Alike–FUNAI Road, Nkalagu–Ehamufu Road.
6. 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.
7. Prudent Management of Finances
In achieving a prudent management of the scarce funds available to Ebonyi State, a serious ‘woman of God’, Dr (Pastor) Queen Agwu, was appointed as the Accountant-General of the State, with Dr Dennis Ude Ekumankama, a very forthright fellow as the Commissioner for Finance, and Dr Ignatius Unah as the Permanent Secretary of the ministry. With these trio financial wizards, Ebonyians can be rest-assured that their funds are not only safe, but will be utilised to achieve the vision and mission of the David of our time.
8. Peace in Ebonyi
The governor, in his principle that if there is no peace, meaningful development will not only be elusive but developments earlier achieved will be destroyed, has reiterated that trouble-makers should look for other states to relocate. Setting the pace in sustaining peace in Ebonyi, thereby making the state conducive for a peaceful celebration, Chief Umahi, said he would deal decisively with any individual or group of persons that attempts to re-ignite the Ezza-Ezillo crisis that has claimed more than 200 lives, and property worth millions of naira destroyed.
The governor said that he is still committed to ensure that the peace accord signed by Ezilo and Ezza-Ezilo people, which brought to an end the protracted communal clash, is not violated by any individual no matter how highly placed. His words: “I stand on the altar of God to say that anybody that wants to ignite crisis in Ezza-Ezillo, I will crush the person. I have directed that the people that organised or wanted to organise a rally in honour of their brothers and sisters in the unfortunate incident should be made available to me. They will spend the Christmas in cell. I must be emphatic, there is nothing to remember.”
9. Ex-lawmakers, Chairmen to Earn Monthly Pay
The essence of leadership is to make impact in the lives of the led, subjects and followers. It is in this regard that the Ebonyi State Governor has said that plans are underway to pay monthly stipends to ex-lawmakers and local government chiefs of the state. He announced this at his Uburu country home when the people of Izzi clan, comprising Abakaliki, Izzi and Ebonyi local government areas paid him Christmas and New Year homage. “My aim is to carry everybody along, especially the political class. That’s why I will be approaching the House of Assembly to ask them for approval so that those legislators that are not on seat now, we start paying them some stipends. Former local government chairmen will also be included. I believe this is how we can get them to help in developing and creating wealth in our state, and will assist to douse tension and allow me some concentration with them so that we can complete the work we have started.”
10. Four new modern cities, to become areas of modern attraction, will be created as a cassava plant procured for Ebonyi South Senatorial zone should be sited in Oshiri.
The governor, out of his magnanimity, has directed for the reduction of the fees of the state university students by N10,000; thereby bringing to an end the intractable agitation by students for tuition slashing. Recall that tuition was increased by ex-Governor Elechi, a development that led to protests by the students.
11. 13th Month Salary
The governor gave Ebonyians a surprise Christmas package by not only approving and paying extra one month salary bonus, otherwise called 13th month to workers under the state employment in the spirit of Christmas celebration, but has paid and distributed bags of rice and tubers of yam to each staff. He approved and directed that junior workers would receive 100 per cent bonus, whereas senior ones would be paid 50 per cent of whatever they receive monthly, boasting that his administration was neither owing workers salaries nor pensions. He disclosed his administration’s plan to begin immediate payment of gratuity arrears owed by both local and state governments since 1993, amounting to N8 billion.
The governor, who expressed dismay that civil servants found it difficult to pay their retired colleagues their pensions but would want to be paid when they retired, noted that he would begin payment of gratuities this December, with the families of retirees who had already died. He said: “We are not owing anybody pension in Ebonyi State. Gratuity is owed since 1993, and gratuity for both local and state governments is over N8 billion, but the funny thing is that when you seat as a civil servant, you refuse to pay others their gratuities, and when you now leave, you start insisting, we should pay.”
The following was achieved under the Heath Sector
Baseline Survey of Health Facilities
The Ministry of Health, in its quest to ensure that every Ebonyian is captured in the health plan, conducted a baseline survey of all health facilities in the state. This is to enable us know what is on ground and discover the gaps so as to determine the interventions needed. This has greatly assisted the ministry in its activities all over the state, as it serves as a road-map in achieving a laudable healthcare system.
One of the most recent achievements of this administration is the medical outreach, called Akubara-oha Free Medical Outreach, conducted at Ezzeama in Ezza South LGA and Agugwu-Uburu in Ohaozara LGA. The results of the exercises are quite successful. Over 2,000 medical cases were seen: 98 surgeries, 26 tooth extractions, and 262 eye glasses issued to eye patients. Most of our people who because of economic situation could not access medical care were treated free of charge. The joy of these people knew no bounds as they prayed for God’s guidance and long life for the governor. His Excellency, having seen the success of these exercises and its attendant benefits, gave the ministry the mandate to conduct such free medical outreach in all the 24 constituencies of Ebonyi. The ministry is already concluding arrangements to kick-start the exercise. The whole essence is to ensure that the poorest of the poor get medical care of all ailments, and to reduce their disease burden and, ultimately, prevent untimely deaths among the rural people.
The ministry, under this administration, attracted 2No modern giant incinerators from the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, which is used for the management of medical waste. Such medical wastes had posed treats and constituted public health hazards in the past in Ebonyi State, as what we have been using is local crude methods of medical waste disposal. The ministry has completed the construction of the concrete base platform for the installation of these incinerators. One of the incinerators is located in Onicha General Hospital, and the other one at Ezzamgbo General Hospital, and they will service the whole of the state and beyond.
Construction of Chest Clinic at Mile 4 Hospital, upgrading of general hospitals, purchase of medical equipment to FETHA, proper immunisation of our kids, integrated measles campaign in Ebonyi State: January 28 - Feb 1, 2016, saving 3 million lives, arresting the scourge of cholera, Eradication of the Menace of Lassa Fever, Construction/Equipping of Virology Centre,Checking Epidemic Outbreaks, Distribution of 1.7 Million Bed-net
The feats are many and mentioning them in one article is truly a herculean task.
In conclusion, let me state unequivocally that Governor Umahi not only deserves to enjoy the fruits of his feats, but is also eminently qualifies to go for a second term, come 2019, as the southern zone of Ebonyi State is entitled to two terms, as enjoyed by the other two senatorial districts. For example both Senator Sam Egwu of the northern district and Chief Martins Elechi from the central district served for eight years each. It becomes imperative therefore, that Umahi of the southern district should also enjoy two terms’ tenure, if the law of equity, fairness and justice are to prevail in this case.