By Peter Okutu
ABAKALIKI- THE visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to Ebonyi State last Tuesday remains a landmark accomplishment for the chairman of South-East Governors Forum and Ebonyi State Governor, Engr. David Umahi who has within two years in office turned the fortunes of the state around in terms of infrastructure and human capital development.
The projects of the present administration are enormous, unequalled and unprecedented for a state most persons have written off; most probably because past administrations were not focused on giving a comprehensive face-lift to the state’s capital and its environs.
Also, there is no gainsaying the fact that Ebonyi State under the present administration has been upgraded aesthetically and structurally to the admiration of those who had held the opinion that nothing good would come out of the Salt of the Nation, without knowing that salt remains the only seasoning for a job well done.
What is simply amazing is the present administration’s dexterity in the judicious use of the meagre resources that comes to the state from the Federal Government to create a memorable impact on the minds and lives of Ebonyi people.
This impact without mincing words, had provoked an unarguable interest on the mind of Ebonyi people in other states and diaspora to return to the state with their heads lifted high.
South-East Voice learned that the President, despite negative insinuations that he would not come to the state because of his alleged dislike for Ndigbo in the country, arrived in the state capital at about 10:30am at the Military cantonment, Nkwegu in Abakaliki Local Government Area of the state in an Air Force Helicopter. His arrival was clear testament that the President truly believes in the unity and oneness of the nation, Nigeria.
Visiting the Salt of the Nation was one of the best decisions of the President in the last two years in office as Ebonyi State is known for her disposition to hospitality, hard work and love for one another.
The Governor used the opportunity of the President’s visit to request him to inaugurate various projects; the president’s first port of call was the commissioning of the Dr. Offia Nwali flyovers, foundation-laying of Ebonyi Shopping Mall, agricultural show room among others.
It is not a hidden fact, that the present administration has given an unprecedented face-lift to the state capital as the pictures of this development have become a trending discourse on social media.
Recall that the last administration had because of its short-sightedness and lack of developmental initiatives and ingenuity, described Abakaliki as not befitting to be called a state capital. This is not the case now as the glory of the capital had been restored and electrified by the Governor David Umahi-led administration.
What is apparently unique about the governor’s projects is the application of ingenuity and expertise with which they are executed in the state; the state capital now has the resemblance of the FCT as all the internal roads within the capital have been tarred, elegant waterfalls have been strategically positioned in different parts of the state, street lights are constantly on at night as brand new bus stops are now in place.
The Police headquarters and the Nkwagu Military Cantonment are not left out from the mida’s touch of Governor David Umahi.
The Governor of the state was genuinely excited over the President’s visit because he (Umahi) saw it as a dream come true for a man who has been supporting the agricultural programmes and policies of his administration to visit the state and see the notable impact of his support in action.
With the pomp and pageantry that followed the President’s visit, it is believed that the Governor has skilfully played into the soft spot of the heart of an Army General who believes in zero tolerance for corruption and the unity of Nigeria.
President Muhammadu Buhari assured the people of the South-East geopolitical zone that he would fulfil the promises he made to the South- East leaders concerning the zone when they visited him last month in Abuja.
The President who gave the assurance at the State Executive Council Chambers, Government House, Abakaliki during a working visit to the state, added that the 2018 budget captured strategic areas such as Power, Road and other social services.
According to the President, his visit to Ebonyi State was a demonstration of his strong belief in the unity and diversity of Nigeria.
“I am delighted to be here in Abakaliki to interact with the good people of Ebonyi State and indeed, the South-East region as a whole. I want to express my gratitude to the people of Ebonyi State for their hospitality and warm reception since I arrived in the state.
“I will like to commend His Excellency, Governor David Umahi for his vision and commitment to the development of this state. Some of the projects I commissioned since my arrival are laudable. I am also grateful to the traditional rulers of Ebonyi State for the honour bestowed on me with the traditional title of Enyi Oha 1. I thank you for this honour and warm reception.
“My presence here today is a demonstration of my strong belief in the unity of Nigeria. As the most populous country in Africa with over 300 ethnic groups, our diversity is almost unique. When I met with the leaders of the South-East in Abuja last month, they raised several issues of concern including the state of the roads and infrastructure in the region.”
Welcoming the President, Governor Umahi thanked the President for his enormous assistance to the state.
He said: “First is to congratulate our President for this highest honour bestowed on you today. It is an honour that is well deserved, Your Excellency. You have helped us quite a lot especially in the area of agricultural revolution and solid mineral.
“And today, sir you are with us. As is always the prayer of everyone that you plan to see it, you will be alive to tap from the seeds that you are planting. Today, you made us a giant in agriculture and so, we have here with us 2,000 bags of rice and 2,000 pieces of yam to give to our president.
“It is a prayer answered because you have sown in the land of Ebonyi and God has given you the strength and health to partake in that seed that you planted, we are grateful to give back to our father who has given so much to us.”
Also, the political leader and former Governor of the state, Senator Sam Egwu called on the Federal Government to refund to the state monies spent on the construction of some federal roads across the state so that the funds could be reinvested into other developmental initiatives.
Some projects inaugurated by the President included Abakaliki-Afikpo road (14.5km) and the twin flyovers of 700 metres each. He also performed the foundation-laying of Ebonyi Shopping Mall and Muhammadu Buhari rice tunnel over-head bridge.