By Dennis Agbo
Last week Tuesday, Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi state was on a routine inspection of some of his numerous infrastructural projects in the state when he ran into two school children hawking sachets of water. Umahi had earlier then made statements discouraging indigenes of the state from hawking, while providing alternative platforms for skill acquisitions, employment and wealth creation.
For instance, shortly after assumption of office in 2015, the Governor ordered for conduct of census of Ebonyi indigenes who are hawking in major cities like Lagos, Onitsha, Port Harcourt, Aba and elsewhere across the country.
The state government budgeted N3 billion for reha bilitation of natives of the state who were hawking in major cities across the country and created a department for talent development headed by Mrs. Jacinta Nworie with the immediate assignment of executing the government’s campaign against hawking. Umahi prescribed deployment of the hawkers to the area of agriculture rather than hawking on the highways.
Contrary to the expectation that Umahi would be furious with the teenagers and his parents for violating his order, he rather was charitable to the children and their mothers with a one million naira cash reward for them to engage in better business ventures.
The two children, Ukamaka Ikema and Chimuanya Nwarie, had unknowingly ran into the governor who was inspecting the Akanu Ibiam round about overhead bridge, also known as flyover in Abakaliki along the Trans African highway linking Cameroon, Nigeria and Benin Republic.Ukamaka, aged10 is a primary 3 pupil of Ezikwo Primary School while Chimuanya, is12, is a JS I student of Evangel Nursery, Primary and Secondary school all in Abakaliki.
Governor Umahi on noticing that his security aides frightened the children directed his orderly to bring them to him. After interacting with Ukamaka, who was hawking sachet water, the governor sent for the parents of the teenagers. The children had told the governor that they had closed from school before hitting the streets to hawk.
Umahi interacted with the mothers of the two children, warning them against sending their wards to hawk. After hearing about the plight of the children’s parents, he approved N500, 000 for each of them for the upkeep and tuition of the two children.