Most people are happy with Gov. Umahi’s leadership qualities”
“Indeed, his coming (President Buhari) is to celebrate the giant strides of our dear governor and through that opportunity the whole world will see what our dear governor has done in the area of infrastructural development. His coming will give us an opportunity to commission all the projects that have been completed and those that are yet to be completed will be flagged off by Mr. President. I can tell you that today, we are set to commission our African biggest light tunnel; it is a four way light tunnel linking to different facilities. We are going to celebrate the commissioning Africa’s biggest shopping mall. Today, we are celebrating the presence of Africa’s biggest ecumenical centre, we are celebrating the most beautiful Government House called the Three Arm Zone. We are celebrating the biggest south east international market, we are celebrating the emergence of ongoing international airport that when completed will be like Abuja and Lagos international Airports. We are celebrating the emergence of University of Medical Sciences that has been adjudged by NUC to be the most beautiful and it going to be a centre of excellence for the treatment of those terminal diseases that normally take us out of this country”
Ebonyi State Governor Chief (Engineer) David Nweze Umahi is putting finishing touches to hold a grand reception for President Muhammadu Buhari during a state visit during which the president will commission plethora of critical projects. Determined to finish strong in office as Governor, Umahi prides himself as one of the few governor in Nigeria who are regarded as been purposeful in leadership styles as he stands out in the areas of infrastructural, human capital and rural development. In this interview with Champion Newspapers Editors Kelvin Egerue and UGO AMADI, Ebonyi State Commissioner for Information and State Orientation Hon (Barr) Orji Uchenna Orji says that president Buhari’s planned visit to Ebonyi will cap the celebration of excellence in the state pointing out that Umahi’s administration will be fruitful in fulfilling the vision of transforming Ebonyi to a global state. Excepts
Hon Commissioner sir; can you give us an insight into the conduct of the recent APC congress in Ebonyi State considering the fact that the outcome of such congress is like an indicator into the affairs of the party in the state?
The last APC congress election in Ebonyi State was smooth, hitch free and very successful. The people and stakeholders of APC had their ward congress in a very peaceful and wonderful atmosphere and that was because the governor of Ebonyi State His Excellency Gov. David Umahi believes on inclusive politics. He had to unite the old and new members (Old APC and Old PDP that joined the party ) and everybody was happy with the way and manner the zoning was done in the first place and also the consensus that was had in each of the congresses. And of cause where there wereno consensus, there was freedom and good atmosphere that made for the choice of the people to emerge. And all of these things, both ward, local government and state congresses, the election was done in a very transparent manner and the people that emerged will be celebrated and congratulated by the entire family of APC. I am not surprised about the outcome and peace we experienced in the congress because Ebonyi State is one of the places you can be sure there was no crises at all in terms of selection or election in the three congresses that have been held. The reason is that we are not surprised that our governor is a man of principle who has garnered experience, who have passion in ensuring that he delivers in anything he sets his hand to do. As a party chairman, when he was of the PDP, he built the biggest party any one could wish for which no other person in the state has beaten till today whether at the state or national level. Also, he is a man that believes in inclusive politics; that once after elections, that it is governance that is all embracing. So, I am not surprised. This is the secret of his success in those congresses.
At a recent meeting in Abuja, Ebonyi State was consistently mentioned as one of the few states that are getting it right in the areas of economy and politics. What are those things which you think that the state governor is getting right that he should be encouraged to do more as to remain in the news for the good reasons?
Indeed you are very correct. Recently the budget office in the Federal Ministry of Finance made an assessment on categories of indices and one of them is the best state in prudent management of funds and resources and Ebonyi State came first among the 36 states of the federation. Another category is the best state in capital project execution and implantations. Also, Ebonyi State came first among other states of the nation. In the area of transparency in budget and budgeting, Ebonyi State came fourth among the states of the federation. Actually, these ones among the numerous performance assessments done by different organization of which Ebonyi State has always performed creditably well. The reason for this success is not farfetched; the governor is a man of passion, a man of tenacity and purpose, a man who believes in quality assurance, believes in monitoring and evaluation, a man whose power of supervision is second to none. He doesn’t sleep day and night, he walks thinking what to do to better the lives of his people. Anywhere he goes he makes a difference. As a party chairman he was the best in the whole federation. As a deputy governor, he was so outstanding and so rich in ideas. At 25 he was already a millionaire. Even before he became a deputy governor, he was already a made man. He was the humblest deputy governor who was cracking the hardest cannel of his boss at that time. His principles which some of us are adopting is stooping low to conquer. That is one of his secrets of performance. And these are the things that are making him to succeed. He believes in working with his lieutenants that knows their onions; that can always come out any time and work for his people. In Ebonyi State even the civil servants have adopted that psyche of working selflessly for the people. That is why in Ebonyi State there is no weekend in the administration of governor David Umahi. On Sunday or Saturday people willingly respond to call to work if they are called upon.
How has insecurity affected performance and government business in Ebonyi State? What is the governor doing in his capacity as the chairman of south east governors to curb insecurity?
Insecurity in the south east is a matter of concern to all of us especially those by violent agitators. IPOB agitation is germane but the issue of going about it violently and agitation being hijacked by hoodlums and bandits is where the problem lies. So, it has been a source of concern to the governors of the south east region and the solution which they have started to proffer is the engagement processes; engaging the actors, traditional rulers, religious leaders and all stakeholders to see how we can talk to our brothers and sisters to see how they can lay down their arms and engage government constructively, seek for round table talk on all the issues they have raised amicably. South east has suffered marginalization and we as a people have some of our stakeholders were the people that marginalized us, even before this administration came on board. We had a party PDP that ruled for 16 years and we have nothing to show for it in the south east whereas all the states of the south east were PDP at that time. We did not even have an opportunity of having a shot at the presidency. So, we are thinking that all the jurisdictions in the south east should all come together to see how we can address issues of unemployment, marginalization and imbalance in federal appointments. And I think that through these, our youths and women can have a reason to really calm down in their agitation. But there is no justification for killing for whatsoever; there is no justification for taking the lives of people and causing destruction of lives and property. In the first place we will be undoing ourselves if we continue with this. The economy of the zone will be in a serious problem and the social situation in the zone will be in a serious problem. So, I think that the efforts being made by the state governors are actually yielding fruits now that there are direct consultations with stakeholders and actors to ensure the agitators lay down their arms.
Every state is now looking inwards in terms of exploitation of solid minerals as to expand their IGR. What is Ebonyi State strategy to increase it IGR. Have Ebony ever conducted a geo survey as to ascertain what minerals that it has beyond gypsm for cement?
IGR increase is enhancement for Internally Generated Revenues. We are looking at developing economic facilitating ventures. We are working on strengthening the legislations, we are also thinking of automating the revenue collection system and process to avoid leakages. So far Ebonyi State has done a lot in opening up a lot of rural communities so that agricultural products are fully operational and agric business is fully enhanced. Therefore through all of these, revenue will be generated from individual persons in the state. Also, the numerous critical facilities are being put in place like the international market, the shopping mall, the international airport that is ongoing, the university of medical sciences, talking about the recycling plants , fertilizer blending plant with 80 metric tons capacity per hour , talking about the rice milling plant that has about 32 metric tons capacity per hour and the parboiling plant that has about 38 metric tons capacity per hour. And indeed other numerous investment opportunities including the pharmaceutical company that is being attracted to the state, the Ibeto Cement Industry that is being attracted to the state. By the time all of these facilities are working it will trigger a lot of revenue generation to the state. Invariably that will enhance the IGR base of Ebonyi State. I can tell you that through the laws that are being made; we have strengthened the cause of revenue generation in Ebonyi State so that it makes revenue collection so easy. Also, through e-governance process, and through easy of doing business processes that we have created, I can assure you that Ebonyi State is really moving forward in revenue generation. Let me mention that even the budget office analysis about revenue generation propensity of the states shows that Ebonyi State is one of the best in terms of revenue generation among the states of the federation. I think if this pace continues, we will be marching toward a better state. I would like you to have a better understanding of the whole situation. Before now Ebonyi State don’t have anything; it was more like a civil service state that has no revenue base at all, but with what we are doing right now, the future looks better for Ebonyi State. That is why we stand by and support our dear governor when he said that federal agencies should continue to collect tax until when we are fully independent. When we are talking about restructuring, we are emphasizing a gradual restructuring. That is the position of Ebonyi State. Gradual restructuring in such a away and manner that south east economy would have been sustainable . If you restructure now, the oil revenue will only be collected by the states that have oil, if we restructure, Lagos will have more advantage in issue like VAT than any other state in the federation. Lagos is capable to have more revenue than the entire south east put together. The wisdom of the governor is that we have advantage in agriculture, so we can see how we can attract the federal government to intervene and develop our agriculture. We have the land, we have the farmers but we don’t have the mechanization, the education. We need government investment in this. We have solid minerals in the state and it is in the exclusive list. We want to see how government will develop our solid mineral and see how individuals can exploit the opportunities to create jobs and create wealth. This will create revenue and by that way we can be self-sufficient; self-reliant as a state.
We learnt that the president will coming to Ebonyi this November. Is it necessary for him to come and what is he coming to do?.
The coming of Mr. President Muhammadu Buhari to Ebonyi State is to commission numerous projects in the state. It is a very welcome development. You could recall that Mr. President had visited Ebonyi State under this administration. Ebonyi was the first state in the entire south east that the president visited. And when he came, he did lay foundation for the construction of some projects, including the light tunnel which has been completed. Indeed, his coming is to celebrate the giant strides of our dear governor and through that opportunity the whole world will see what our dear governor has done in the area of infrastructural development. His coming will give us an opportunity to commission all the projects that have been completed and those that are yet to be completed will be flagged off by Mr. President. I can tell you that today, we are set to commission our African biggest light tunnel; it is a four way light tunnel linking to different facilities. We are going to celebrate the commissioning Africa’s biggest shopping mall. Today, we are celebrating the presence of Africa’s biggest ecumenical centre, we are celebrating the most beautiful Government House called the Three Arm Zone. We are celebrating the biggest south east international market, we are celebrating the emergence of ongoing international airport that when completed will be like Abuja and Lagos international Airports. We are celebrating the emergence of University of Medical Sciences that has been adjudged by NUC to be the most beautiful and it going to be a centre of excellence for the treatment of those terminal diseases that normally take us out of this country. Talking about heart diseases, cancer, liver and blood problems; also it is going to be a centre of excellence for producing dialyzers. As I speak, there is no place in Africa that houses a centre that produces dialyzers. Also, to be celebrated are numerous concrete roads done by His Excellency. We are celebrating a state that has the highest number of flyovers after Abuja and Lagos. These are among the things that Mr. President will be commissioning when he visits.
We are approaching the Xmas period and we know that Gov Umahi is use to doing some special things for Ebonyians during festive seasons for both the people at home and abroad including organizing mass transportation. Any unique package this time around?
Actually the governor came on board with a different concept. Before now we don’t know anything about Christmas welfare package or reaching out to institutions, organizations etc. until the governor came but the governor has continued unabated in celebrating with the rich and poor, organizations and institutions, farmers, orphanage homes etc. For the civil servants the governor also pays them 13th month salary. He has never stopped doing good and I don’t see him stopping this year. That is part of his character and upbringing . He is a man from a very organized family who has an organized way of doing things .That is why anything he set his heart to do, he does it to perfection. Everyone is very happy and elated the way and manner he is leading the state.