Why I Want To Succeed Umahi As Ebonyi Governor – Nwonu


Hon. Anayo Edwin Nwonu, the member representing Ezza North/Ishielu Federal Constituency of Ebonyi State, is a governorship aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He speaks in this interview on why he wants to succeed Governor Dave Umahi, his chances in the election and his vision for the state if elected. Excerpts:

 You are one of the governorship hopefuls in Ebonyi State on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). How prepared are you for the race? 

My people have felt the impact of the little position they gave me to serve as a member of the National Assembly for at least six years now and that is why they are urging me to run for governorship in 2023. By the grace of God and the will of the people, I will be coming into office as governor in 2023 at a critical phase in our socio-economic evolution, when Ebonyi State like the rest of the nation, is facing profound challenges. 

These extraordinary times require a focused, steady and compassionate leadership and that is what I intend to offer. I will be a servant leader of the people, an astute manager of the resources of the state and a change agent, who will put the people first at all times. The challenges we face today require a leader with compassion, a leader who knows and understands Ebonyi State and its people. So, the future of our state requires a clear vision of the present and a clear path to a glorious future that works for everyone. If given the opportunity, I will lead from the front from the first day. I will be in the trenches on daily basis fighting for the masses because my mission is to restore the lost dignity of Ebonyi person. 

What new are you bringing to the table given the belief that the incumbent governor, Dave Umahi, has performed creditably? 

There is no doubt that Governor Umahi has done well in the area of infrastructure but my team and I have come up with a document christened Ebonyi State Economic Development Master Plan, which will address the present challenges of the state and reposition it to achieve an all-inclusive growth and prosperity. This vision rests on the achievement of the cardinal objectives of education, health, job creation and enterprise development. 

The master plan will be driven by an open, transparent, inclusive and accountable plan committed to human capacity development. The significance of the concept of human capital in generating long-term economic development of the nation cannot be neglected. It is expected that the macroeconomic policies of all the nations, especially labour surplus countries, are focused towards promotion of human development and subsequently economic development. My plan shall be focused on these drivers, working in collaboration with strategic partners. 

Access to knowledge is part of your master plan. In specific terms, what plans do you have for the education sector if elected? 

Education is one of the critical drivers of my economic blueprint, so the state will invest to significantly increase the number of secondary school enrolment and that of primary schools in my first four years. The infrastructure in our public primary and secondary schools will be paid full attention to ensure conducive learning environment and qualified teachers. My blueprint for the state aims to renovate all public secondary schools within this period. This shall in turn require an increase in the number of certified teachers to meet the new demand. Payment, promotion and training of teachers shall be of utmost importance and pensioners shall be given due attention. 

The inspectorate department of Ebonyi State Ministry of Education will be empowered to effectively discharge its role in regulating standards. The Ebonyi State University, Ebonyi State College of Education, Ikwo and College of Health Sciences will be sufficiently funded. Their faculties and curriculum will also be aligned with the state’s competitive advantages in agriculture, extractive resources and tourism and hospitality.

My administration will also revive the abandoned postgraduate scholarship programmes for deserving students in critical areas of studies and will award foreign post-graduate scholarships yearly to deserving citizens in areas of dire need. The state will also expose suitable candidates to access other scholarships offered by the Petroleum Technology Development Fund, Niger Delta Development Commission and British Chevening scholars, among others. 

The health sector is another area that is critical to development; what are your plans for the sector? 

My plan seeks increased investment in health infrastructure and resources. Our aim, if elected, will be not only to increase the number of general hospitals but to ensure maintenance, presence of doctors and other professionals to attend to the health needs of citizens. We will ensure that every local government area has at least one fully functional secondary health care institution in the state. Government will aim to equip these general hospitals with surgical resources and ensure the provision of diagnostic and pharmaceutical services as practiced in civilized climes like the United Kingdom. The number of Primary Health Centres (PHC) will be increased such that there is an available PHC every 30 minutes walking distance. The Infant Mortality rate (IMR) will be reduced, while the Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) will also be reduced drastically. 

My administration will also increase the number of doctors and professional health workers in the sector by improving enrolment/facilities at the Ebonyi State University College of Health Science and the schools of nursing and midwifery. 

How do you intend to address youth unemployment in the state? 

Job creation is one of the cardinal objectives of my economic development master plan and the aim is to create over 30,000 skilled and unskilled jobs through the Foreign Direct Investment/Domestic Direct Investment drive for industrialisation. 

The vision of this Ebonyi State Economic Development Masterplan is to attract investments particularly into those industries that represent the state’s competitive advantage and they are agriculture, extractive and tourism. Existing companies in Ebonyi State will be encouraged to create more jobs through tax incentives that will enable them undertake expansion of their businesses in the state. 

The government will invest in training school leavers and graduates in information technology and other basic skills thereby improving their competitiveness and guaranteeing their employability. We will also come up a N3 billion funding window through the Microfinance and Enterprise Development Agency (MEDA) to leverage on the opportunities provided by the Central Bank of Nigeria, Bank of Industry, Development Bank of Nigeria and other development institutions to finance micro, small and medium enterprises within the state. These collaborations will support 5,000 SMEs and in particular, enable as many start-ups as possible yearly. 

Ebonyi State has done well in the area of agriculture, particularly, rice production. What plans do you have to leverage on what has been achieved and build on it? 

Agriculture was the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy before the discovery of crude oil. From 1970 to late 2000s, the sector’s contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and export earnings steadily declined because the country’s focus shifted to petroleum exploration. 

The recent fall in crude oil prices has triggered debates around the role of agriculture in economic diversification. Ebonyi State land mass is nearly 100 per cent arable and the state enjoys an all-year rainfall. The state is among the highest producers of rice, palm oil and cassava. My economic blueprint has plans to mechanize agriculture and introduce profitable and convenient modern farming techniques like the cultivation of yam in sacks and modify same for other essential crops. Strong collaborations will be established with Central Bank to enable Ebonyi farmers leverage the bank’s most important agricultural initiatives – the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing Model for Agricultural Financing (NIRSAL), the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CACS), the Real Sector Support Fund (RSSF), and the Anchor Borrowers Programme, all of which unlock low interest finance. In line with its value chain approach, this Economic Development Master plan will ensure that Ebonyi State attracts domestic and foreign manufacturers to invest in the state and to create the following value addition across the most profitable segments. 


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