Gov Umahi is poised to do more for Ebonyi State before he leaves office”-Orji Uchenna Orji

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says Ebonyi is making giant strides in educational, human capital development  

In this interview with Ebonyi State Commissioner for Information and State Orientation Hon (Barr) Orji Uchenna Orji  he spoke on the developmental strides Governor David Nweze Umahi of Ebonyi State is making in security ,education, health sector and other issues .excepts.

“Now come to talk of formal education, the governor has done a lot in ensuring that modern classrooms blocks are provided for the people of Ebonyi State in different wards. I can also say that the governor is injected about N7.5 billion to ensure intervention in the area of out of school children education and that has really helped in bringing back our young boys and girls who were on the streets hawking; that is bringing them back and making sure they are given formal education. We have now free and compulsory education for our teeming children in the state and that has really helped a lot. And let me tell you that the impart this has made is that Ebonyi State in 2017 was delisted from the map of educationally disadvantaged states that we suffered since Ebonyi  State was created. Today, we pride ourselves as one of the best states in WAEC examination.  Also in 2017 Nigeria University Commission (NUC) had their education index in the area of states with the highest number of undergraduates that gained admission into the universities and the local government that came first in the federation out of the 774 local governments in the country was from Ebonyi State. The same year under review, NUC had an assessment on the best student that took Medicine and Surgery in JAMB and a native student  who schooled in Ebonyi State came first . So, these are indicators that Ebonyi is going somewhere as regards to education development”

There was this statement that was credited to your governor regarding Anambra election; can you please clarify this.

As a matter of fact, that was a fake news propagated by the enemies of progress who are fighting against our dear governor and his high rising track records in the committee of states . The governor has through his aid debunked that criminal defamation of character and of cause as the chairman of South East Governors’ Forum , he wouldn’t have even as a governor, gone into talking about an election that is holding in another state. Even if it were to be his state , the same thing would have been applicable. It is only INEC that has the power to make a pronouncement regarding elections or candidates that have any issue with the elections if there is any. So governor of Ebonyi State and Chairman of South East Governors Forum never in any way did make any comment, before, during or after the election. It is not in the character of our dear governor and I want to assure members of the public that the governor is very mindful of the need to galvanize the support of his brother governors to support and ensuring security and peaceful atmosphere throughout the south east. So that is actually the concentration of his mind and efforts and so, all of these side and fake news;  they are indeed a distraction we cannot give attention to. But come to talk of it, Ebonyi State government have made a law on fake news called ‘Cybercrimes prohibition laws 012” that is aimed at cracking down on all of these criminal elements that are spreading falsehood, fake news and of cause hate speech that are capable of causing tension , riot, crises, community disturbances and violence in the society . You would agree with me that so far in the south east , we have not been in a good situation in terms of security  and one of the problems that are really fueling this  insecurity in the south east is the issue of fake news, hate speech and all of those false information and that is why Ebonyi State law has to criminalize the issue of fake news.

Looking at the peaceful conduct of election in Anambra as Chairman of South East Governors’ Forum; what is he doing to sustain the peaceful environment,  tackling the menace of insecurity in his state and the region at large?

Actually, the peaceful election we had in the South East can be attributed to the engagement processes embarked upon by the governors and leaders of the South East. As we can recall, they have always maintained that there is no need to militarize the zone because of the violence that we are having especially most of these people doing these things in the name of protestation are our brothers and sisters and so we need to handle them with care by engaging them, talking to their collective sensibilities to see how they can understand that we would be undoing ourselves when we continue to really put our zone in these mess in the name of agitation. Agitation is allowed in law and even under the constitution but when you go about it violently, killing people, destroying properties and causing people not to come out of their houses, in the first place you will be infringing upon the human rights of the people and of cause the security of the state as it were. So, what has been done in Anambra  has shown a high level of sense of responsibilities on the side of the protesters because if you go to the far north where we have the Boko Haram as a violent group, they don’t have a mission, they don’t voice out anything, they got nothing. There is nobody to be addressed. But in the case of agitators in the south east, they came together shortly before the election and pronounced that they are ending the sit at home protest. For me it is the beginning of a new order and beginning of a situation of calm in the region. If we can actually maintain the tempo in engagement processes it will really help a lot. The people of the south east are highly responsive and responsibly, even our youths just need little engagement to let them understand what we are known for. We are people of honour and integrity, we have our behavioral practices that is in line with our culture and tradition of our forefathers , that is maintaining peace with one another and not of being  violent. And I think that when all of these sensitization processes and advocacy are carried intensively across board within the zone and outside the shores of the zone, we would be getting it right.  But above all, the next important thing is leadership by example which I must tell you that as Commissioner for Information in Ebonyi State. That has really helped us in Ebonyi State in ensuring that there is no much escalation of tensions and violent crises in the name of agitation.  This is because when they come to Ebonyi State they will just see that the state of seven years ago is no longer the same Ebonyi State as at today. They can see a level of transformation and see the need to appreciate what the governor has done. If you are driving from any part of the state, the moment you enter the state from any boundary of the state you will appreciate a great difference. And if you are not sleeping, you will be wondering where you are. Of cause you will first be greeted by flyovers whether you are coming from Benue   or Cross Rivers to Ebonyi or from Abia or Enugu to Ebonyi. You will be greeted by wonderful flyovers made by the indigenous engineers. All of these things coupled with the beautiful roads and economic facilities were put in place to trigger economic development. Our people are realizing that there is no need to take the state backward. I think that the same thing is going to happen in other states. So, leadership is very important because it will help to give the hope that in  the future they can be engaged  for gainful means of livelihood.

There is this statement that the Governor is poised in give his people dividend of democracy. Now that the year is gradually winding down; are we expecting more from his Excellency?

I can tell you that since the governor came on board as the third civilian governor of Ebonyi State and third civilian deputy governor which you know is historic, he had to develop a blue print immediately he came on board  on how to give Ebonyi State a new face and change the narrative that will be a pride for the people of Ebonyi State. I can authoritatively assure you that this six years of his administration are full of wonderful, splendid, outstanding and audacious accomplishments.  So, for the remaining two years or less than two years the governor is not resting at all. I can confirm to you that he still has so many projects to complete. He has Nigeria’s third biggest airport that he is still constructing. Mr. President will be coming anytime from now to do the foundation laying ceremony. As we speak it has gone more than 60 percent in completion and we have the University of Medical sSiences that is being equipped now and classes are about to be resumed. Adverts has been made for the resumption of classes and we have also quite other programmes; road constructions and flyovers that the governor is completing . Also the stadium is going to be one of the three best stadia in Nigeria that he is going to be embarking upon. And some of other projects that he needed to complete. However, the governor thinks that having created good environment and having made a lot of differences in infrastructure and human capital development, his administration is really on track.  So the 2022 budget that is in progress now has just passed the stage of citizen participation and input and very soon the budget will be presented to the house. From what we have done at the executive council level, the budget will take care of human capital development, education, health, agriculture and among others. And I think that with this will further create an opportunity to develop the human capital in education, health and all the rest of them. As you know empowerment programmes of different types are still going on. And we think that through these means our people can be engaged and they will thrive in the environment the governor has created. I need to tell you that the governor did approve the recruitment of 5,000 civil servants, 2,000 for local government employment and 3,000 for state civil service. That is going to really help in a lot. And I also need to tell you that we have what we call the #Endsars empowerment programme. Apart from convening youth summit called youth engagement and national development, the governor need to roll out N3 billion to say, whoever had to come to the  basket with a bankable proposal and show diligence and requirements needed would be able to access money  from N200,000 N500,000, N1 million and some places N2 million and these funds are available to all kinds of people be you farmer, student, businessman ,artisan, victim of Endsars and those who did protest during the #Endsars , youths and women and I thinks this is going to help a lot. So, the governor is up and doing in every aspect. There is no explanation I can give you will appreciate until you visit Ebonyi State and see for yourselves. Even now, I am trying to make a requisition to the Chief executive to see how he can allow the Chief executives and editors of different media houses to come and see for themselves the kind of transformation we have been talking about in Ebonyi State under Governor Umahi.

What are the new strides the government is undertaking in education and health  in Ebonyi State and how affordable will it be?

Honestly, the governor is considering the issues of formal education, how to equip our classrooms, equip the teachers in primary,secondary and tertiary levels.  The governor is also thinking about semi formal education having what is called adult school and the rest. He is also thinking of non-formal education. Now come to talk of formal education, the governor has done a lot in ensuring that modern classrooms blocks are provided for the people of Ebonyi State in different wards. I can also say that the governor is injected about N7.5 billion to ensure intervention in the area of out of school children education and that has really helped in bringing back our young boys and girls who were on the streets hawking; that is bringing them back and making sure they are given formal education. We have now free and compulsory education for our teeming children in the state and that has really helped a lot. And let me tell you that the impart this has made is that Ebonyi State in 2017 was delisted from the map of educationally disadvantaged states that we suffered since Ebonyi  State was created. Today, we pride ourselves as one of the best states in WAEC examination.  Also in 2017 Nigeria University Commission (NUC) had their education index in the area of states with the highest number of undergraduates that gained admission into the universities and the local government that came first in the federation out of the 774 local governments in the country was from Ebonyi State. The same year under review, NUC had an assessment on the best student that took Medicine and Surgery in JAMB and a native student  who schooled in Ebonyi State came first . So, these are indicators that Ebonyi is going somewhere as regards to education development. Also, in the area of non- formal education and semi formal education ,the governor had to really establish a school of  vocational college  and he is looking at the artisans, the craft men ,technicians, those talented young men and women who are doing a lot of things  within the streets of Ebonyi State and beyond. Getting them certification after they must have undergone good trainings for a period of minimum of  two years. As a matter of fact, we are working towards having a good number of people who are really skilled in vocational trade. Let me also mention that .we have a school the governor had established called the Gifted Children School Academy, the governor’s intentions is that the best brains in each of the local governments about 5 persons in each LGA , under a very robust and dispassionate examinations will be selected. Also, they will be given scholarship from the state government from secondary school to tertiary and they are going to be put in one school and well funded by the state government. What the government is really planning is to give it to a private sector to handle like the Catholic authorities to manage but everything about fund will be provided by the state government. This is to ensure discipline and quality of education; this is ongoing as I speak with you. But let me mention that importantly that the governor is constructing the school of medical sciences. Not because we don’t have Ebonyi State university but  because of the passion he has for the health of the people of the state and Nigeria at large.  After the construction of the university it will be a destination for medical tourism for treatment for all manner of health challenges, ranging from heart problems, kidney, liver problem, treatment of cancer and even blood diseases will be treated at the centre. As we speak we have a centre for the production of dialyzers , this is the first in Africa. Ebonyi State will be producing some this equipment for treatment of these diseases. Invariable it is going to provide various job opportunities for our people in the state. The university will also produce human capital, because many will be trained in different fields of human endeavour. We are also planning to establish school of aeronautic engineering. There is no university or centre for that in the nation. So Ebonyi is planning to provide that service need of our aviation industry. This will surely reduce the issue of capital flight in the country which has been part of the culture of Ebonyi State. We don’t patronise anything that will enhance capital flight in Ebonyi State. So , these are the things the governor is providing and plans to so. Currently we are giving out our technical schools to be managed by private sector  to ensure quality delivery and good academic standard.

Also, affordability of the education and health facilities will be in the hands of the private sector that will drive it. The government’s intention is to make it a world class and that will ensure the people get the best from what they are looking for. The Catholic Bishop Conference is handling it and they will determine the fees. But essentially the government is going to have a partnership arrangement that will ensure a win-win situation for revenue generation and job creation for the people. All good universities in the world are expensive but what is important is the quality of education being churned out.

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