Consolidating gains of democracy beyond 2023 in Ebonyi- By Reginald Okoro

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Ebonyi is one state in Nigeria that could arguably be said to have been lucky with the quality of leadership it has had since its creation in 1996, especially when it comes to governorship.

Before the state was created in October 1, 1996 by Gen. Sani Abacha, Ebonyi communities were known as one of the most backward communities in Nigeria.

In the area of education, there was little known of the state; there were a few people in schools and the number of those in the civil service were few.

The roads were bad, diseases such as cholera and guinea-worm were endemic while the urban area was like a ‘ghetto.’

But, Mr Walter Feghabor, the first military administrator came and though he was not from Ebonyi, took the state by storm, working tiresely to restore and build the young state and its people.

The leadership acumen of Feghabor helped to set the state on the path of infrastructural, human and economic development.

Today, in recognition of the Feghabor’s contribution to the development of Ebonyi, no big event holds in the state without government requesting his presence.

Between 1999 and 2007, Dr Sam Egwu held sway as the first civilian governor of the state.

Egwu came from education background as he was at the time a lecturer in the University.

He made education his top priority, provided free education from primary school to senior secondary and made it compulsory.

This singular policy made thousands of Ebonyi indigenes hawking and trading in many other states to return and enrol into schools.

Ebonyi State University (EBSU) was established under his administration and given great boost; faculties created and many courses given accreditation.

Egwu initiated the ‘HiPact’ educational program that sent scores of Ebonyi graduates overseas for postgraduate studies and saw many became professors today.

Egwu also established the Ebonyi College of Education, Ikwo which today is a degree awarding institution.

The decision by the Egwu led administration to prioritize education led to competition and hunger for education among its indegenes.

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It should be recalled that civil servants enjoined enhanced pay package while there was industrial harmony between the government and labour under Egwu’s administration.

Chief Martin Elechi became governor in 2007 after the expiration of Egwu’s administration.

Elechi was not only one of the brightest minds in Nigeria but one of the founding fathers, who had fought for the creation of Ebonyi for over 30 years with the late Ezeogo Akanu Ibiam.

Elechi made the overall development of the state his priority, especially in the area of rural development.

He linked up almost all the communities in the state which prior to his administration were not connected.

The over 47 ‘unity bridges’ built by the hisadministration created quick and easier access to rural communities.

The domino effect of this was the boosting of rural-urban migration; enhanced trade and commerce especially in the area of agriculture which the state is well known for.

Elechi boosted agriculture and paid attention to Abakaliki rice production and developed three modern rice Mills, each in every senatorial district.

The former governor also embarked on pro-people projects including the international market; Centinery City Secretariat, Oferekpe water project, Akanu Ibiam International Conference Centre, Staff Development Centre among others.

Meanwhile, in 2015, Chief Dave Umahi succeded Elechi and came in with a vigour that was unmatched by any state governor.

Umahi, a civil engineer embarked and has continued to embark on massive physical infrastructure development at the local and urban areas of the state.

Abakaliki, the capital of Ebonyi is aptly nicknamed the ‘Dubai’ of Nigeria, wirh flyover bridges that are unequalled anywhere in the country.

Umahi has given a total new look to the international market and the centenary city, making them functional and built a new ultra modern government house inside the centenary city, one that the United States (US) White House would envy.

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Aside the capital city, Umahi also extended his developmental ingenuity to other semi-urban areas and gave them deserved attention.

Onueke, headquarters of Ezza South has become a small city with all the modern facilities that make for a metropolis.

Similarly, Amasiri, Afikpo and Uburu have been turned into a city with all necessary amenities.

The governor has initiated the building of an international airport; an Olympic size international stadium, an ultra modern medical village, an ultra modern waste recycling plant among impacting physical infrastructures.

Mr Obinna Udenwe, social and political activiss in an interview with our reporter on Wednesday in Abakaliki described Ebonyi as a state endowed with leaders with ‘magic’ wand.

“Ebonyi has outpaced its contemporaries in virtually all areas of development and has become a tourism destination.

“As we count down to 2023, it’s imperative that that a leader who will sustain the developmental strides of the formes leaders is elected,” Udenwe said.

Udenwe noted that as count down to 2023 has begun, that it was imperative that Ebonyi continued on this streak of luck.

He explained that it was pertinent that Ebonyi is governed by a leader in the footsteps of these past leaders who had made impactful impression in the development of the state.

” Ebonyi electorate should go for continuity in 2023 by electing a technocrat, an administrator and a father.

“We should elect someone who’s not just a politician but with the accommodative spirit to build briges among past leaders of the state,” he added.

A lawyer and youth leader, Mr Philip Achi urged Ebonyi electorate to be wise in making decision of the next governor in 2023.

“Though the present administration is less than a year old, it is important that we begin early to talk about the 2023 election and to conscientise electorate to make good use of their votes,” Achi said.

He described Chief Elias Mbam, Chairman, Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) as an accompished politician, leader and technocrat.

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“Although, Mbam at a recent event said that his primary concern at the moment was to discharge his duties as the Chairman of RMFAC.

“While this is understandable, owing to the enormity of the job at the Commission, it is important that Mbam begins to consider running for the office of governor of Ebonyi in 2023.

“Without mincing words, Mbam fits the criteria and qualities mentioned above as expected of the next governor who will build on the legacies of all its leaders.

“He is a simple, down to earth, unassuming politician of great respect and repute.

” An intelligent and educated technocrat and administrator who has held several positions that have given him unparralled and unmatched experience.

” Mbam is currently the chairman of RMAFC since 2019, a position he also held between 2010 and 2015 under President Goodluck Jonathan.

” It is believed that experiences garnered from this position cuts across revenue generation, economic management and wealth distribution,” Achi added.

Achi noted that Mbam was minister for Finance, Budget and National Planning from 2006 to 2007.

He said that RMAFC boss also served as Commissioner for Works and Housing between 2001 and 2005 and commissioner for Works, Lands, Housing and Transportation between 1999 and 2001.

He also held positions as General Manager of Ebonyi State Rural Electrification Board and the pioneer Manager of Ebonyi Housing Development Commission at the creation of the state in 1996.

In old Enugu State, Mbam served as General Manager, Enugu State Housing Development Commission among other positions held both in Enugu and in the old Anambra state.

“To govern a state requires experienced hands and a heart of gold, one with the eyes of an eagle to spot areas of advantage and to build on them for the overall development of the people.

“Therefore, Ebonyi state is blessed in the person of Mbam who is both a tecnician, a technocrat and an economist.

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