BY PETER OKUTU
The administration in Ebonyi may have been flayed for being slow in improving the infrastructure network in the state, but there is no denial that it is steady and focused in that direction.
THE administration of Governor Martin Elechi of Ebonyi State has over the years recorded success in different sectors of the state’s economy and also incurred diverse criticisms for empowering only very few individuals, and mostly politicians.
As a policy the administration has decided not to embark on further intensive capital projects but rather focus on the completion of all ongoing ones in order to limit the number of uncompleted projects in the state.
The development inclinations of the administration have also rubbed off on governance at the rural level as chairmen and Development Centre coordinators of LGAs have followed his steps.
Speaking during the last Democracy Day celebrations Governor Elechi extolled Chairmen and Coordinators within the LGAs for following his footsteps in the area of infrastructural development.
The State Commissioner for Information and State Orientation, Mr. Chike Onwe lists the achievements of the Elechi administration in several sectors including infrastructure, water, health and agriculture.
One particular achievement he notes is the administration’s recent success in combating the plague of guinea worm in the state.
“Water which could be termed as life was a big issue before the creation of the state and we had a reputation of being labelled guinea worm headquarters of the world.”
“His Excellency felt that need and decided to construct two giant water treatment plants, one at Oferekpe in Ikwo LGA and Ukawu in Onicha LGA to gulp N7.6 billion and N3.9 billion respectively and upon completion would serve the entire need of the people of the state to the capacity of 200 million litres of water per day.
“His intervention in the area of education and health are unprecedented; encouraging rural hospitals to deliver healthcare to the people; construction of international market with over 5000 stores which would when completed be the hub of economic activities for the state; construction of Ochudo city which is being built on the portion of land that was exchanged with the Nigerian Army; one section of the city has been developed with the erection of 11 standard model administrative blocks each of them specific to the need of the Ministry for which it was designed.
“The government has also designed and constructed a digitalized Radio and Television corporation, EBBC and working assiduously to build power plants in the state. These projects are tied to the needs of the people.
“However, the two projects that may not get 100 percent status by the time this administration winds up because of the outlay of funds and time required for their completion are the reticulation of water to all the LGAs and communities in the state and the Ebonyi State University project.
Onwe’s approval of Elechi is nonetheless faulted by the chairman of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, in the state, Mr. Jerry Obasi who rated the performance of the present administration low. He uses as his index the poverty level of those at the rural level which he says does not reflect the more than N144 billion statutory allocation and other intervention funds received under Elechi.
The state is also still lagging behind in the implementation of the new Teachers Salary Structure, TSS, and it is not surprising that the Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, is said to be preparing for a strike action soon.
Indeed, workers are not particularly enthusiastic with the administration’s attention to their welfare given that the government is yet to commence full implementation of the N18, 000 national minimum wage.
Also, the lingering feud between IBETO Company Ltd and the administration over who controls the operation of NIGERCEM, Nkalagu is also a sore to many. The administration and the governor are opposed to Ibeto alleging that the company lacks the requisite managerial and other competence to run such a strategic company.
“We believe that no other investor can determine our destiny better than ourselves and we believe that we have the potentials to bring in the best core investors; not those who parade themselves as investors without any knowledge of the game,” the governor was once quoted as saying.
The Ebonyi State House of Assembly under the leadership of Speaker Chukwuma Nwazunku on its part has maintained a harmonious relationship with the executive.
While flaying critics who he alleged want the legislature to “persecute” the governor, he pledged that the House would not be an appendage of the state administration saying the relationship between both parties would remain cordial irrespective of provocations from outside parties.