It has become customary in the business of politics that in every election year, candidates of political parties seeking to be voted into political offices rollout manifestos to convince electorate on why they should be voted into power.
The manifestos are usually couched to look so convincing and attractive that often times the electorates get confused in making choices.
But over the years, Nigerians have come to terms with the sad reality that Nigeria Politicians hardly keep to campaign promises.
Once they ascend to power, they suddenly forget the beautiful promises they made to the electorate. Many even go as far as arguing that they are not God who keeps to promises.
This is why a famous philosopher, Niccolo Machiavelli once said that “Politics have no relation to morals.”
Ebonyi people in particular have had their fair share of bitter experiences with politicians at every level of governance.
During the 2023 general elections, Rt. Hon Francis Ogbonna Nwifuru, the then Speaker of Ebonyi State House of Assembly who was the Governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), like governorship candidates of other political Parties seeking to be elected Governor of Ebonyi State, expectedly rolled out his manifesto christened “Ebonyi People’s Charter of Needs.”
Giving insight into his reason for choosing the aforementioned title, Nwifuru explained that if elected Governor, Ebonyians would be the ones to choose what their needs are, for Government to implement, and not vice versa.
He also noted that since his predecessor did excellently well in infrastructure, he was going to concentrate more on empowering the people and opening up rural roads, among other areas begging for attention.
He noted that the Charter shall be based on open Governance and performance management,with the aim of making decisions through citizens’ input while focusing on outcomes and outputs.
Nwifuru further pledged to hold regular town hall meetings with the people of Ebonyi State and residents to ensure that Government, citizens and organized private sector work together to implement and sustain people grown Governance, adding “I will rely on my core values of humility, integrity and accountability in serving you as the Governor of Ebonyi State.
The Governor in keeping with this promise has held several meetings with critical stakeholders of the State including the leadership of Nigeria Union of Journalists in the State with the aim of aggregating views, opinions and needs of Ebonyi people to assist his administration in making governance decisions.
He outlined some critical issues and sectors and explained how his administration was going to tackle and invest in them.
Nwifuru’s campaign promises were as convincing and attractive as the promises of other governorship candidates seeking the mandate of Ebonyi people to take up the top job.
But Ebonyi people on their part are used to such beautiful campaign promises. They have since resigned to fate, and no longer take political manifestos of office seekers to heart, not minding who’s involved.
But as a three term lawmaker representing Izzi West State Constituency and Speaker of the State Assembly for more than seven years, Nwifuru had carved a niche for himself in the business of leadership.
A lot of achievements especially empowerment of his constituents spoke loudly for him, attesting that if given a higher office, he would do more.
Eventually, he was elected by the people of Ebonyi State as the 4th executive Governor, through the sheer determination of Ebonyi people and the will of God.
He took oath of office on May ,29, 2023 at Pa Ngele Oruta Township Stadium, Abakaliki.
Three months as Governor, Nwifuru by all sincere judgment has demonstrated that he was fully prepared for the job. He has set the ball rolling in all the sectors of the State and in all ramifications, in his uncommon quest to set the State on the trajectory of growth and development.
He began by assembling competent and vibrant cabinet members who are assisting him to achieve his targets. He went ahead to win the hearts of the youth by making them the fulcrum of his administration through the appointment of many of them into sensitive positions.
Determined to reposition the health sector of the State for optimal service to the people in fulfilment of his campaign promise, the Governor in less than a month in office ordered for the immediate employment of 195 health personnel, comprising 39 medical doctors, 39 Nurses, 39 Laboratory scientists, 39 Pharmacists and 39 health Attendants.
The recruitment of these health personnel had been concluded and they are already deployed to the hospitals in the State. He has also approved the establishment of the Public Eye Health Committee to maintain sound Eye Health of Ebonyians.
Prior to Nwifuru’s emergence, the Ebonyi State civil and public service were terribly neglected by previous administration, but he has chosen to right the wrongs. First, he ordered for immediate recruitment of 1454 civil servants to rejig the State’s workforce and to fill in the existing vacancies.
Submission of applications by qualified applicants had been concluded and in a matter of days, the process would be concluded and the successful applicants would be deployed to work. This singular move no doubt would reduce the rising unemployment in the State.
Also, in fulfilment of his promise to civil servants as well as to cushion the effect of the removal of fuel subsidy, the Governor has added N10,000 to the salaries of workers under the state’s employ. He also approved the payment of arrears of gratuity to retired civil servants from 1996 to 2021 amounting to N4.3bn. This was even as the payment of arrears of pension started shortly after Nwifuru assumed office.
The Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki, has also received the attention of the new Governor. The university was almost shutting down due to lack of funding and other sundry issues before Nwifuru came to the rescue. The university workers were being owed salary arrears for more than two years which led to mass exodus of Lecturers, dearth of basic infrastructure and facilities, unnecessary government interferences were clogs in the wheel of progress of EBSU, the only State owned University, prior to the intervention of the new administration of Governor Nwifuru.
The Governor released the sum of N700m to the university for immediate payment of outstanding salary arrears. He also increased the State government subvention to the university to the tune of N150m monthly.
This was even as he ordered that all the university staff due for promotion but had been stagnated for no reason, should be promoted without further delay.
These interventions by Gov Nwifuru are some of the issues that almost grounded the university and Ebonyi State civil service, because the previous administration did not see them as priorities, despite agitations from different qauters.
He also approved part payment of fees by students of Ebonyi State University and Bursaries for Ebonyi Indigenous Law School Students.
For more than eight years, Ebonyi State could not boast of portable water supply despite having more than three gigantic water schemes. Irked by the ugly development, Nwifuru has taken the bull by the horn by ensuring that the water schemes are revitalized to supply water to the citizens of the State.
In his maiden State executive council meeting, he gave a marching order to the Commissioner for water resources to ensure that water starts running in the streets of Abakaliki and its environ and that order has been carried out in fullest as water had started running in the streets of Abakaliki.
The Governor while speaking at the grand finale of Izzi new yam festival (Ojiji Izzi) recently, explained that his administration had injected over N500m naira into ensuring that there was a portable water supply in the state’s capital city.
The Governor has also started industrializing the State. His administration has approved the expansion of the Umuoghara Pulverization plant to accommodate a recycling plant to explore ways of benefitting from the waste-to-wealth potential of recycling waste.
The Ebonyi pipe factory and Building material factory that had gone moribund have also received the attention of Nwifuru. The Governor said he had released fund for the replacement of all the facilities vandalized in those factories gulping the state government hundreds of millions of naira.
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry in charge of the task, has since commenced work. The Governor has also approved the establishment of a Drug Production Centre, Mega Drug Distribution Centre, Lead and Zinc Processing Plant, Lead and Zinc Buying Centre.
On the area of road construction, the Governor is working his talk as he has approved and awarded the construction of the following roads across the State. They are:Obubara Junction to Oferekpe, Ikwo (41km), Obvudechi – Iziogo road (19km), Offerekpe – Agbaja Internal road (33km), Ishieke Odomoke Ekebeligwe – Isophu – Nworie (12.802km), Ezzaegu-Ezilo Road (21.4km), Ebonyi Agro Dealers Market Road Onuebonyi (1.3km), Ogboenyi Road off Ndibe Beach, Afikpo (2km), Itara – Dr. Akanu Ibiam – Oyoyo – Erei road, Unwana (1.8km), Rehabilitation of Alo Street to Unity Square with some spot maintenance along Nwele Street., Agbaja Ndiebor access road, Abakaliki LGA (11.3km), Ogbaga-Nwofe Road (23km), Mile 50 New Layout (4.5km), Legacy fm road, Presbyterian Church Road, Iyioji Akaeze, Ivo (3.16km), Amankwo-Amaelu road, Afikpo LGA (2.6km) and 16. 2km road in each of the 140 Communities in the State (280km).
The Governor has also assented into law, the Rural Access Roads Authority Law. The law is aimed at empowering his administration to embark on aggressive and massive construction of rural roads without encumbrances. In fulfilment of his campaign promise to the Traditional Rulers of the State, Governor Nwifuru has approved the construction of a duplex each to all the traditional rulers of the 171 autonomous communities in the State as well as 2km road in each of the communities.
On the area of Sports, the Governor being fully aware the importance of sports to the overall development of any society, approved the commencement of inter-Local Government football competition and other sporting activities with the aim of harnessing hidden talents in order to set up Ebonyi State sports team. These are some of the sensitive areas, Observers scored successive administrations in the State very low. But thanks to Governor Nwifuru who has come to the rescue.
Knowing full well the value the people of Ebonyi State attached to Agriculture, Governor Nwifuru a month ago empowered the management of Ebonyi fertilizer blending plant to mass produce fertilizer for onward distribution to farmers across the 13 LGAs of the State free of charge.
Feelers from the Council areas indicated that the Fertilizers have been distributed to deserving farmers. This is the first time in recent years, according to Observers, the government is extending this kind of gestures to farmers. In the past, the farm inputs only get into the hands of political appointees who in turn sell it to farmers. Most times, it’s released when farming season is over, thereby making it useless to the farmers.
But the approach adopted by present administration is an indication that the time for farmers to rejoice has come. The Governor also paid N100m counterpart fund for the government to secure other agric incentives for farmers in the state.
The Governor has also done well in the area of empowerment of the people. During the last Executive Council meeting, his administration approved an empowerment package of two million naira each (N2m) for one thousand five hundred young (1500) Ebonyians involved in street hawking and other menial jobs both at home and across the major cities to be given to them to start up business after graduation from the ongoing skill acquisition training at Ebonyi Vocational college.
The programme which will cost the state over three billion naira (N3bn), according to the State government, is to be implemented in three phases of five hundred (500) beneficiaries in each phase. The Governor has approved the sum of two billion naira (N2bn) as initial capital for the implementation of this empowerment programme.
The training and subsequent empowerment of the first batch of five hundred beneficiaries will commence as soon as all the necessary frameworks are put in place, the Honourable Commissioner for Information and State Orientation, Engr Jude Okpor, disclosed this while briefing Journalists on the outcome of the State executive council meeting.
The Governor also established Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency and appointed a Director general to head it, and went further to release first tranche of N50m to the agency to assist Ebonyians doing businesses and others willing to do business with soft loans to grow their businesses. Observers are of the view that the government has no doubt kick-started the surest way to making the people of the State self reliant.
The Governor has also started tackling the many communal crises bedeviling the State. Prior to his assumption of office, Ebonyi is riddled with all kinds of crises, ranging from inter and intra communal crises. But knowing that crisis impedes development, he has set machineries in motion to resolve all the lingering crisis.
The Governor constituted peace and reconciliation committees made up of reputable personalities such as the Bishop Emeritus of Abakaliki Catholic Diocese, Most Rev. Dr. Michael Nnachi Okoro.
He has also directed the commencement of resettling the displaced persons at Amanze and Izzo Communities as well as Izzi and Abakaliki by building 280 bungalows for them.
Crimes and criminalities have also reduced to the bearest minimum since Nwifuru took over governance, courtesy of many security measures he had put in place.
With the steps so far taken by Rt. Hon Francis Ogbonna Nwifuru’s led administration as well as the numerous policies and programmes already lined up for implementation in just 100 days in office, Observers and Political Pundits alike, are of the firm view that Ebonyi State has been set on the path of peace, rapid growth and development in all ramifications. In the same vain, Governor Nwifuru has also proven within 100 days in office that there are still good politicians who can keep faith with their campaign promises to the people.