AN ADDRESS OF THE GOVERNOR OF EBONYI STATE, HIS EXCELLENCY, ENGR. CHIEF DAVID NWEZE UMAHI ON THE OCCASION OF THE 62ND ANNIVERSARY OF THE INDEPENDENCE OF NIGERIA AND THE 26TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE CREATION OF EBONYI STATE
It gives me profound pleasure to felicitate with you all on this auspicious event of the celebration of the 62 years of Independence of Nigeria and 26 years of the creation of Ebonyi State. For me, this 2022 celebration is not only historic, it is also symbolic. It is historic in the sense that it is coming at a time we are in dire need of the values that governed the political life of the founding fathers of this nation; it is coming at a time the values of our nationhood are under threat. It is symbolic because it is a major national celebration that ushers in the 2023 campaigns and general elections. It is historic as it is the last Independence Day celebration that will usher in another dispensation of government both at the national and State levels. It is symbolic as it is a moment to render a rewarding account of our stewardship in our two-term mandate to serve the people of Ebonyi State. We believe that this particular celebration offers the best opportunity for public scrutiny of our performance records. We are confident that we have fought a good fight and have kept the faith in our promises to Ebonyi People.
Indeed, this anniversary celebration calls to mind the labours of our heroes past and the efforts of sustaining the unity of purpose and shared vision in our democratic journey as an independent nation. We therefore joyfully felicitate with the leaders of our nation and all compatriots who have remained faithful to the ideals of our independence, despite the challenges that threaten our corporate existence. Our special felicitations go to the father of the nation and President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR. He has remained a leader with fatherly heart and soft spot for the cause of our country. He has been of tremendous assistance to the aspirations of the State under our administration, and for this we owe him a deep gratitude. Deserving of our warm felicitations are our development partners who have assisted our State in one way or the other especially the Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo SAN, the leadership of the National Assembly ably led by the President of the Senate, His Excellency, Senator Ahmad Lawan, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, the Honourable Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele and my brother Governors of Nigeria Governors’ Forum and South East Governors’ Forum. We are especially thankful to the good people of Ebonyi State for their support and solidarity that encouraged our administration to modestly anchor our two terms social contract with our people. We cannot thank enough my dear lovely wife and confidant, Her Excellency, Chief (Mrs.) Rachel Ogonna Umahi. She has been a great pillar of my administration, I have been encouraged by the efforts of my dependable Deputy Governor, His Excellency, Barr Eric Kelechi Igwe PhD, the progressive House of Assembly members, my committed Exco members and the industrious Judiciary, I will reserve my appreciation until the day I will give a farewell speech to mark the winding up of this administration which shall be in May 2023, but let me seek your indulgence to appreciate our supportive founding fathers, Elders Council, Council Chairmen, Coordinators of Development Centres and different support groups. We are grateful to the Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, South East, Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Abraham C. Nwali, the Divine Mandate Pastors’ Chairman and Chaplain of the Government House, Pastor (Mrs.) Eunice Oyeyemi, the Chairman of South East Traditional Rulers Council, His Royal Highness, Eze Charles Nkpuma, all the members of Ebonyi State Council of Traditional Rulers and indeed the leadership of the various Town Unions in the State for their immeasurable support to the cause of the Divine Mandate administration. May God bless you all.
This is a moment to reflect on the labours of the founding fathers of our State who passed through thick and thin to secure the creation of Ebonyi State and the aspirations that informed their struggles. It is a time to have a flash back on the condition of Ebonyi State before we came on board and what we have achieved through the power of the Most High. We came in the name of God and promised to reflect in our administration, the five-fold covenant with God which is “to Serve the State with the fear of God, to prosper the State with the Word of God, to make the State the number one economy in the whole country, to passionately help the widows and the oppressed and to build a place of worship for the people of God”. Our blue print and policy direction framework centred on our mission ‘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’. We promised to change the ugly narrative of our State and make it the envy of her contemporaries through aggressive infrastructural transformation and human capital development and best leadership module that can give us a face in the comity of States.
Let me state that we were inspired by the modest efforts of the past leaders of the State, the encouragement of our destiny helpers and the constructive criticisms of those who share adverse opinion about our policies and programmes. We thank the former Civilian Governors and Military administrators of the State for laying a foundation for the peace and development of our State. We pay tribute to the Head of State, General Sani Abacha (of blessed memory) whose proclamation made possible the creation of Ebonyi State.
Although our nation is faced with monumental challenges of economic depression and social upheavals, we believe that with concerted efforts and commitment to the values of patriotism, equity and justice by our leaders in all units of life endeavours including, families, communities, churches, professional bodies, government and non-governmental organizations at all levels and with the sincere hearts to faithfully and devoutly seek the face of God, we shall overcome. In Ebonyi State, we were able to keep to our promises because of our commitment to our core values of fear of God, fiscal discipline, passion for work, courage to take decisions that will be of common good and resilience to surmount challenges. We have re-ordered the mindset of public and civil servants and re-enacted the “can do spirit” of an average Ebonyi man and woman. We have restored the mental and psychological confidence that was going to be the bane of our progress. We have all worked together to take our destiny by our hands. Our skilled, semi skilled and unskilled labours have been given a sense of self worth. Our artisans, technicians, craftsmen and those with different gifts in vocational trades now have opportunities to express their skills. Ebonyi State can now compete favorably in all fields of life without any form of inhibition or disadvantage. For me, this is the greatest achievement of this administration.
The selling point of our commitment in our 2015 and 2019 social contract is our covenant to ensure intelligent rationing of limited resources and to reign with creative ideas and innovative energy with clean, mobile and effective governance that will meet the people’s aspirations at the point of their needs. It is our commitment to work day and night until the expiration of the term of our office. Today, we feel gratified that our efforts in actualizing and even surpassing the promises we made are having positive logical effects in the testimonies shared by Nigerians.
Today we have shared testimonies of how we have transformed the State through aggressive infrastructural development and human capital development with exemplary leadership values. Today, every local government has 25-kilometer concrete road of 8 inches thickness and 20 km street light of 6pm to 6am non-stop. Virtually all the roads within the metropolis and satellite towns have been constructed in concrete pavement with beautiful roundabouts, street light and water fountains built to give the State the desired ambience for creative industry and tourists. We have constructed about 14-number twin flyovers to connect the major junctions and highways of each of the zones of the State.
Our administration constructed some sections of the Federal roads and dualized some sections of the Federal and State roads including the Enugu-Abakaliki road, Abakaliki-Afikpo road, Mile 50 – Ishieke road, Afikpo – Amasiri road, Amasiri – Uburu road, the 189Km ring road that connects the 8 Local Government Areas of old Abakaliki block, the aesthetic flyovers that connect to the major facilities, senatorial zones and exit points to Abia, Benue, Cross River, Imo and Enugu States, the four-way light tunnel named after President Muhammadu Buhari and described as the new face of Ebonyi State with a formidable water fountain underneath, the State shopping mall built by our administration described as the microcosm of the Macrocosm of the Dubai Mall with facilities seen in advanced countries of the world, the State Christian Ecumenical Centre built for ecumenical assemblies, corporate events and conferences fashioned after the temple of Jerusalem with over 20,000 sitting capacity, the ultra modern Margaret Umahi International Market, biggest in South East containing 5 lots, the brand new Government House that has the Governor’s Lodge, the Governor’s Office, the Presidential Lodge, the State Exco Chambers said to be the biggest in Nigeria, the State First Lady’s Office, the Government House Chapel in addition to the renovations made on the old Government House. Our administration rehabilitated virtually the Ochoudo Centenary City Secretariat blocks, tarred some roads linking to the Secretariat and the new Government House and constructed a number of perimeter fence to secure very sensitive MDAs, we renovated the Old State township stadium and constructed a VIP State box with LEED Screens and a Guest House for sports men and women, and we have commenced construction of an Olympic Stadium at the Ochoudo Centenary City axis of the capital city as part of our decongestion policies.
We have built a University of Medical Sciences which the Federal Government has taken over and approved that it be known as David Nweze University of Medical Sciences. It is an educational and medical masterpiece which has many Science faculties, centre of excellence for the treatment of liver problems, heart diseases and kidney transplant, maternal mortality cases and production of dialyzers among others. We have built a World Class International Airport named after President Muhammadu Buhari and the Airport has facilities that can be seen in world class airports. We are currently employing staff in the Airport.
We believe that health and education are precursors for the human capital development and we aggressively tackled the infrastructural deficits in those sectors, including the construction of over 877 modern classroom blocks, establishment of Vocational college and King David Gifted Children Academy. We have constructed about 400 bed capacity Accident and Emergency Hospital complex and donated same to the Dr. Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital Abakaliki, we have rehabilitated General Hospitals in each of the 13 Local Government Areas, we have constructed Primary health Care Centres, a Virology Centre, Covid-19 Centre and School of Nursing and Midwifery among others.
Our penchant for human capital development made us to launch several empowerment programmes including the #ENDSARS Youth Summit, leadership training programme for public and Civil servants, youth training on ICT, empowerment of 4000 widows with N400M grant, Youths and Women empowerment where 3000 youths and women were empowered with N750,000,000 grant, tricycle empowerment where 400 tricycles were given as grant to Ebonyians both in Onitsha Anambra State and those within the State, Street to Skill Empowerment Programme where 520 Ebonyians in Lagos were empowered with N130,000,000 grant, Divine Mandate Pastors Empowerment where 5008 clergy/pastors were empowered with N500,800,000.00 grant, Wives of Security Personnel Empowerment where 403 Wives of Security officials received N80,600,000 grant and EbonyiCares Empowerment Programme were over N2B Naira has been approved and is being disbursed as grant to the youths and women. In the programme of Family Soccur and Upliftment foundation of Her Excellency, Chief (Mrs.) Rachel O. Umahi, my dear wife, many widows and the less privileged have been empowered and their livelihood enhanced. The agricultural mechanization and commercialization introduced by our administration motivated us to procure 13 No Bulldozers for land development, 40 brand new tractors for distribution to cooperatives, different farm machinery including tillers, harvesters and planters for small holder farmers, enhancement of the rice milling capacity of the State owned rice mills from 15 to 32 metric tons capacity per hour, enhancement of the State owned Fertilizer Blending Plant from 40 tons to 80 tons capacity per hour. The introduction of one-man-one-hectare agric programmes made us to empower civil and public servants with 4B Naira agric loan. We also assessed the CBN Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CACS) and Anchor Borrowers facilities for the empowerment of the farmers.
In our efforts to give the State a conducive physical and social environment, we made street light available in the streets and township roads in the metropolis. The flyovers all have street light to improve night life, enhance security and increase the business altitude of the State. We also connected major junctions of the State with CCTV cameras to track criminals, we installed traffic light in the major roundabouts to ensure traffic control and a viewing centre that provides security satellite for the State. We created and fortified Ebubeagu Security Outfit which has over 4000 officials who are paid monthly to provide intelligence and add value to the security architecture of the State. A good physical environment in the State is made possible by investing on NEWMAP flood control to bring intervention to major flood areas in the State. The roundabouts, water fountains, decorative light and tree planting programmes provided by our administration are aimed at enhancing the conviviality of the State. We have also motivated security agencies to work assiduously for the protection of human life and property through the provision of security gadgets, patrol vehicles, construction of internal roads and perimeter fencing of most of the commands of the security agencies and installation of street light, solar light and CCTV cameras for many security posts in the State.
These achievements have gained national recognitions and thus Ebonyi State acknowledged among other recognitions as the most prudent State in the use of public resources in Nigeria (Budgit Office 2021), the best State in capital budget implementation and investment in capital projects and best State in Nigeria in Economic Growth (Budgit Office 2021), the 2nd Best State in 2021 overall Fiscal performance rating (Budgit Office 2021), the least indebted State in South East, (and 3rd least in Nigeria) (Budgit Office 2021), the 4th best in investment towards self reliance (Road to State’s viability), above average in maternal mortality ratio (2018 World Bank State of States Health index), one of the 10 best States in Economic Development performance (Philips Performance Index of the year 2020), one of the 5 best States in Nigeria (2020 State Fiscal Sustainability Index), One of the largest producers of Rice in Nigeria in the year 2021 (Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment) and the 2nd best in Empowerment and Job Creation in South East (National Bureau of Statistics in 2020).
In the next few months of our administration, we shall do more to empower our people and engage them to find business opportunities in our critical infrastructure. We shall assist our people through financial empowerment and mentorship programmes that are geared towards reinforcing their livelihood. We have flagged-off Ebonyi Cares empowerment programme targeting micro, small and medium enterprises, small holder farmers and public and civil servants who may wish to take advantage of the second address policy of our administration to go into farming.
Today, we shall use the opportunity of this celebration to flag-off the second phase of the State empowerment programme. We shall empower youths and women drawn from different categories of groups. We promise to continue to put smiles on the faces of our people until we handover on May 29th 2023 when we shall be anchoring gloriously. Thank you for the support and solidarity. God bless you and once again congratulations for the actualizations of our great State.
God bless Ebonyi State!
God bless Federal Republic of Nigeria!
Engr. Chief David Nweze Umahi FNSE, FNATE
Governor of Ebonyi State