Umahi’s Campaign Promises and People’s Need

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Ebonyi State is a state in Nigeria, in the South Eastern region. It is inhabited and populated primarily by Igbo. Its capital and largest city is Abakaliki. It is one of the six states created in 1996 during the regime of General Sanni Abacha’s government. Ebonyi was created from parts of both Enugu State and Abia State. It has three senatorial zones: North, South & Central, thirteen Local Government Areas as well as local development centers created by the state government.

Ebonyi is a fast growing state in the South East and in Nigeria at large. Since the inception of Ebonyi state, all the leaders have contributed in one way or the other, their own quota in the state to place the state where it is today.

After Ebonyi State was created from parts of Enugu State and Abia State during the military regime of General Sani Abacha in 1996, in October, 1996, Walter Feghabo became the administrator and left office in August, 1998.

Another administrator, Simeon Oduoye who was born on 13 April 1945 took over in August 1998 and left office in May 1999 when democracy returned to Nigeria and he handed power over to the first civilian governor, Sam Egwu.

As administrator of Ebonyi State, one of Simeon Oduoye’s first acts was to set up a committee to restructure the state civil service to ensure order, seniority, observance to rules and regulations.

In an interview in October 2009, Senator Julius Agbo cited Oduoye’s administration as an example of a well organized person who tried to establish civil service in Ebonyi state.

At the return of democracy, Sam Egwu took over and emerged as the first civilian governor on 29th May, 1999. In 2003, Sam Egwu ran for re-election and he won the election which earned him two terms (eight years) tenure as governor and handed over power to another civilian governor, under the same party umbrella, People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Martin Elechi.

Chief Martin Elechi ran in the general elections under the umbrella of PDP ticket, he won and assumed office on 29th May, 2007, succeeding Sam Egwu. Martins Elechi ran successfully for re-election in 2011 and emerged the winner for the second term, he was the governor and handed over power on 29th May, 2015 to Engr. David Umahi who was his deputy governor during the 2011-2015 dispensation.

Engr. David Umahi is the present Governor of Ebonyi State. He ran in the general elections under the umbrella of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) ticket and assumed the position on May 29, 2015, succeeding his boss, Martin Elechi. After completing his first tenure of first four years, he ran again for the second term and among all his contenders, majority of them surrendered to him, barely few days to the election while others went ahead to finish the battle with him. At the end of the battle, he emerged the winner and has begun his second tenure on 29th May, 2019.

All these leaders who have led Ebonyi state have contributed to the growth of Ebonyi in terms of human capital development, infrastructural development among other things, but in this report, we shall highlight some of the achievements of the present administration, and examine his campaign promises for the second tenure and cross check it with what Ebonyians are expecting from him as the governor.

However, this is not aimed at criticizing the governor, rather it is aimed at opening his eyes to other needs of Ebonyians, though the campaign promises are excellent and he has the best interest of the citizens at heart, looking at the way he transformed Ebonyi from where it was formerly to where it is now.

Inasmuch as we are neither criticizing the state governor, nor condemning his campaign promises, we are not singing his praises so as to elevate him beyond what he has done, but when someone has done good, we should praise him for the good he has done and when someone has done bad, we should also tell him so that such person can change.

There is no contenting it, from all our interviewees, Engr. David Umahi has done so much in the state, and for the citizens, he has satisfied most people beyond expectation. Infrastructurally he has done much more than the citizens can ever imagine and he has exceeded the expectation of onlookers in other states. For this reason, he deserved accolades.

In November 2015, just few months after Engr. David Umahi began his tenure, Center for International Advanced and Professional Studies (CIAPS) published a report “declaring him the worst performing Governor in Nigeria”

Why would CIAPS declare him the worst Governor?

CIAPS after analyzing the first few months of all the state governors published a report ‘The Governors Performance Index (GPI). This covers the first few months of each governor’s tenure and it gave Governor Umahi an abysmal grade of 35%.

The report cited his failure to pay State workers as the primary reason for his poor ranking.  CIAPS suggested that Governor Umahi “should buckle down and clear all of the arrears of the outstanding salaries.”

But what can we see today, the same Governor who couldn’t pay his workers’ salaries few months after he became the governor is now paying the same workers 15th of every month or latest before 20th of every month, except in rare cases. One would clearly say that the group was wrong because in his case, first impression never lasted.

The past 2 dispensations spent 16 years before Engr. David Umahi came in as the governor, Ebonyi state then was more or less dust of the nation rather than salt of the nation.

Before the administration of the governors in Ebonyi state, the state was so dusty and it was a place lots of people ran away from and many Ebonyians were not proud to claim they were from Ebonyi.

Lots of people that ran away from Ebonyi to go and work in Lagos in a bid to survive and some of them when asked of their state of origin, they claim Imo state, Anambra state, Enugu state or Abia state, but Ebonyi state was never a place to be claimed they came from.

It will be a fallacy  assume or conclude that the previous governments have not contributed to the growth of Ebonyi state; they have in their own ways contributed to the growth of the state in one way or the other, but much more in infrastructural development, Governor Umahi still towers.

On the assumption of office, Sam Egwu transformed the state and took it from the dust it was, used the dust to do some infrastructural developments and did what he could within his 8 years tenure.

Martin Elechi took the mantle of power and started working, he continued with some of the infrastructural development and did his own part in developing the state within his 8 years tenure.

Immediately Engr. David Umahi assumed office, he started working. Being an engineer, he started with aggressive construction of roads; he constructed most of the roads in the state capital, Abakaliki.

There was a time I went to a house located in a street opposite Presco Secondary School, Mile 50, I was in the same street, in 2014 but when I went to the same house in the same street last year 2018, I almost got lost, I already passed the house I was going to and told the bike to take me back because I assumed I was on the wrong street, it was by chance that I was able to locate the same house on the same street because then the road was not tarred, but it was already tarred before 2018.

While he was still at the construction of roads, he took the bold step and started what most people in the state felt we never needed, flyovers, he started the first flyover at Presco junction.

It was like one flyover was not enough at Presco junction, he started the second flyover at Spera in Deo and then the third flyover close to international market.

Before we could say Jack Robinson, he finished the construction of the flyovers and transformed Presco junction and Spera in Deo to what no one never imagined it would be. If my friend that left Ebonyi 5 years ago comes back here now, he might definitely miss the road if he’s not careful.

While the construction of roads were ongoing, he lit up the state with street light, not just at the major roads, but at the minor roads within streets, all the nooks and crannies that criminals used to lurk at night was lit up and their hidden spots came out, in the open, those places are now where you can pass at night without the fear of being harassed.

My people say, ‘when you see an elephant, tell it to the world that you have seen an elephant’. It is not gainsaying that Engr. David Umahi has done so much in infrastructural development, he has built on the works of other governors, but he has built great wonders on the work of others and he is now tagged the best working governor in the South East.

Ebonyi State Governor, Engr. David Umahi says his second term projects would include the construction of Ebonyi airport, mega Olympic size stadium and completion of the already started 198km Abakaliki ring road and many more developmental projects in the state.

The Governor who is yet to disclose sites for the proposed projects noted that within the first four years of his administration, over 534km of roads were constructed on rigid pavement with over 100 years life span, mega shopping mall, International market, Ecumenical Centre as well as new Government House while the stigma on the Abakaliki man was removed by reconstructing and making Ebonyi State the model of development.

He expressed his love to the citizens of Ebonyi State for re-electing him for second term and promised to consolidate on the aggressive infrastructural, human development and aggressive industrialization of the state, the tripod on which his administration stands.

However, Ebonyians are grateful for the good works the governor is doing in the state, for the wonderful transformation he is performing in the state, and his non relenting attitude in developing the state infrastructures.

They applaud him of the good work he has been doing in the state and they implore him to do more, some people that spoke with Citizens’ Advocate highlighted a few things that they would like the governor to look into so as to improve the standard of living of Ebonyians and make life easier for them.

“People are happy with the development; most of our roads in Abakaliki are tarred, look at the roads in Spera in Deo, Presco junction, international market and the rest of them. People will like him to reduce the tax in the state because there is too much tax in the state, many are running away from the state because of high tax. If he can reduce the tax for us in the state so that it can be affordable, he will be the best governor in South East.” – Felix Ntamo

“One thing that people are clamouring for is water, if there can be pipe borne water, running twice in a week, it will be good, there is no public water running consistently, the last time there was public water in my compound at Awolowo was before Easter, just one day, after that day, there has not been water again. That is one most important area that our governor needs to look into, ensuring that there is public water running consistently in the state. People are clamouring for public water, the way he is constructing roads, he should also look into making water run regularly in the state.” – Peter Ifeanyi Ekeleme

“The plans that the governor have for his second term are good, but looking at these things, but with the level of development in Ebonyi state, I don’t think airport is our priority now. There are other things that he needs to look into like the health care and education sector and water corporation.” – Nnachi Uwakwe

“I believe our governor should look into the area of providing public water for us in the state. Our dear governor should please reduce our tax, N14,000 is too much as tax payment. When we pay this tax to the state, federal government and local government will also come and request for tax, what we pay at the end of the year is so much compared to what we make in the shop annually.”

“Government should please give us grant to support out business so that we can grow the business in the state.”- Ngwu Mary

“Just as the governor promised in his campaign promises that he is going to buld airport in Ebonyi state, I believe that we need airport in Ebonyi state.”

“He should help talented youths by encouraging them build their talents and sponsoring them to represent the state in other states of Nigeria and outside Nigeria.”

“Some people are complaining of high tax, looking at the wonderful works he is doing within the state, he needs to generate revenue to complement the allocation that federal government is giving him.” – Amaka Ifeanyi

“The governor promised to build airport during the second term, I believe we need the airport so that we can fly to and from Ebonyi state. We also need the ring road which will serve as a means of bringing food to the state capital.”

“He has done most of the works by providing good road and good water.”

“Some people are clamouring that he should create jobs; creating job is not the problem, but the ability to pay. Unemployment as a national matter is not  peculiar to Ebonyi State.” – Theophilus Ifediotu Onwa

“Engr. David Umahi has transformed Ebonyi state, he is doing a marvelous work which everybody can see. If you are coming into Abakaliki at night, Abakaliki is now more beautiful at night with the lights, the road network system is awesome among other things, I give kudos to him.”

“We need more projects like youths empowerment, equipping the hospitals, though he is working in the health sector, but we will like him to equip the hospitals more than what it is presently.” – Mr. Ofoke Alphonso Okeke

“Engr. David Umahi is really trying in Ebonyi state, he is working diligently. But building airport and mega stadium at the moment is not the priority now, what he should look into deeply is building companies that will provide employment opportunities for Ebonyians so that people that have graduated can have a place to work. This state lacks companies, when he builds companies here, it will attract more people to come and invest in Ebonyi state and it will also bring more development. Though he is trying empowering the youth, but he should empower the youths more.” – Stella Ezechukwu

“We need that airport and other things that he promised that he will do during his second tenure, but we also need many other things like employing the youths and making sure that there is enough job that can generate enough income for Ebonyians because there is lots of hunger everywhere.”

“People need job more than they need airport and flyovers. The state is trying in terms of light, but we need pipe borne water; there is no potable water in the state, the water that is available in most parts of the state is borehole which is not even good for cooking. If the government provide potable water for Ebonyians, it will be good for us.”

“The tax is also too much, the government should please reduce it, they bring tax of N28,000 from the state government but they told me to pay N14,000, Federal Government and the Local Government bring huge amount of tax to pay also, whether you sell in your shop or not and if you don’t pay, they will seize your goods until you pay a huge amount of money above what they brought initially.”

“The way we pay tax is just the way we pay tithe; we are paying so much to government when the government is meant to be paying us salaries as citizens. I finished from school and there is no job and then I managed to put this small thing together to sustain myself and government is still charging me so much on this my small business.” –  Odinakachi Obiajulu CEO Lexkezy beauty home

“All the things that he promised to do for us is good, like building of airport, roads among other things, but he should employ youths and help the needy, though he’s working assiduously to ensure the state moves forward.” – Okafor Chiamaka

“Engr. David Umahi has promised to build airport and new mega stadium, when he builds these things, it will create employment for the people of the state. People are complaining of civil servants salaries and tax in the state, if it is possible for him to increase the civil servants salaries and reduce tax, it will be good.” – Michael Tochukwu

“In terms of road construction, he has done so much, then in terms of constructing airport, when he build airport, it will create employment for the citizens.”

“The government should make sure that the waterworks is working again; it has been years when I see the waterworks really working in Ebonyi state.” – Joan Anaetoh

There is no doubt that having ran a very successful first tenure, the second tenure would be a glorious one and most residents’ expectations would be reasonably assuaged.

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