Ebonyi State At 25 And Governor Umahi’s Outstanding Efforts To Make The Dreams Of The South-Eastern Fathers Come True; By Francis Nwaze

The quest for survival is as old as man. The first man, Adam, wandered around to find a safe place after being sent out of the Garden of Eden. His offspring from Cain, Abel, Seth downwards had to wander around to find a place to eke out their livings.

But one thing was certain: they did not lose hope. 

Nigeria is occupied by different ethnic nationalities. But out of them, there exist three major ones: Igbo, Hausa, and the Yoruba.

The agitations for state creation were the fallout of ethnic minorities who rightly felt that the major groups were dominating them politically, hence the need to challenge the hegemony of these major ethnic groups. The agitations yielded results when in 1963, the first state, the Mid-West region, was carved out of the then western region. Since then, many states have been created, mostly to assuage the fears of the minorities. Nigeria state is currently having 36 states, with Ebonyi and the other five states being the last to be created in 1996 by the then military regime of Gen. Sani Abacha. 

The founding fathers of Ebonyi were compelled to agitate for a state of their own after years of neglect by the former states they belonged to. From the old Imo to Abia states, on one hand, Anambra to Enugu states on the other, the story is the same.

The evidence of this neglect became glaring after Ebonyi was created as there was a dearth of infrastructure and other developmental indices making people deride Abakaliki, a supposedly zonal headquarters, to be called the “Dust Capital of Nigeria”. 

Ebonyi State is pluralistic with people having differing traditions, dialects and to some extent, socio-economic and political views. These differences are shaped owing to the background of the people who currently occupy the space known as Ebonyi.

It is important to state that while some parts of Ebonyi were carved out of Abia in 1991, after many years of stay in Imo state, the other parts came from Enugu, with an equal number of years in the old Anambra.What is unique is that irrespective of the glaring differences, the founding fathers of Ebonyi believed that they are surmountable.

The people of Ebonyi, the founding fathers and residents thus prayed for a miracle. Although the governments of the first Military Administrator of the young state, Walter Feghabor, and his successor, Simeon Oduoye made efforts to develop the State but their best was like pouring a gallon of water in the desert as there are so much work to be done. The state was still dusty and infrastructurally deficient. 

At the dawn of the democratic era in 1999, again Ebonyians prayed for miracles. The election of the first civilian Governor of Ebonyi State, Dr. Sam Egwu, was received with the highest joy. Ebonyians believed that their messiah had come. But as the administration was winding down in 2007, they were so much work to be done as not enough was achieved. Thus, when the octogenarian, Chief Martin Elechi was elected in 2007. He did his best but so much was left undone. For these 16 years, Abakaliki the State capital, and many parts of the state was still wearing the rustic looks to the disappointment of many.

By the time that electioneering campaigns began in 2015, many Ebonyians were already apathetic to politics, especially at the gubernatorial level. However, the founding fathers of the state that we’re alive and others who still believe that God can bless Ebonyi State with a good leader stood their ground that Ebonyi must be great again.

When Gov. David Nweze Umahi was inaugurated in May 2015, only a few of the people were optimistic that he would succeed.

And truly, they were not to be blamed based on their past experiences. But being a man who likes the biblical King David, commits whatever he sets out to do, Akubaraoha was unwavering as he knew what he wanted to do for Ebonyians, his people.

Suffice it to say that when Gov. Umahi announced that he would be building an international market, shopping mall, and the Christian Ecumenical Centre in Abakaliki, many pessimists had laughed him to scorn. They dismissed it as the dreams of an infant governor who wants to curry the love of the people. When he further announced that he would be building flyovers in Ebonyi, a new medical university and an airport of international standard, the scorn became transformed to ridicule at every opportunity and social event. These pessimists called him the “magician of Ebonyi” because they believed that it is only by magic that these gigantic projects could be carried out.

The sad reality to the decadent opinions of pessimists is that they do not believe in themselves or become sober and apologetic when their evil thoughts are dashed. Even when the flyovers started coming up one after another, they were still telling themselves that they were mere bridges. And one is compelled to ask if they are deaf, are they blind too as not to know the difference between flyovers and bridges?

Today, Ebonyi state stands out among the six states that were created in 1996 in infrastructure, healthcare, education, and other indices of development. And the credit goes to the Almighty God first, and afterward to Engr. David Nweze Umahi, FNSE, FNATE whose great ideas have transformed the once “Dust Capital of Nigeria” to the “Dubai of Nigeria”.

The dreams of the founding fathers of Ebonyi who saw the need for a new state as a conveyor belt of development have been made alive. As Ebonyi State marks the 25 years of its creation today, the living founding fathers will be gleefully moving from ears to ears and rejoicing that they are alive to witness the Ebonyi of their dreams, while the dead will be dancing that their efforts were not in vain.

Ebonyi State is now working.

#VisitEbonyiNow #InvestInEbonyiNow

Francis Nwaze is the Special Assistant to the Governor (Media and Publicity).

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