By Chima Ude
IF Ebonyi state was perceived in recent past to be on the path of sustainable growth and development, all of that tanked with the emergence of incumbent governor David Nweze Umahi three years ago.
The peace loving people of Ebonyi have thus been forced to endure Umahi’s style of governance that has set backwards the development clock of the state. It is therefore not surprising that from Abakiliki the state capital and literally across the 13 local government areas of the state, the general consensus is one of change; a change in face of governance in the state that has enslaved the people like the biblical Israelites in their years of torment in Pharoah’s Egypt.
Like the biblical voice crying out in the wilderness however, it appears with the emergence of Senator Sonni Ogbuoji, as the flag bearer of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the forthcoming gubernatorial election in the state, the cries of the people have reached the stable of God, hence an honest man with unquestionable integrity, Sonni Ogbuoji has come to the rescue.
Senator Ogbuoji is a man I have come to respect from a distance after witnessing his impact as the senator representing my Ebonyi south constituency. Whereas with his defection from the PDP earlier in the year for reasons not unconnected with the poor management of the party processes that seemed to favour only those who were ready to dance to the tune of the governor who had become the proverbial lord of the manor, many had interpreted it to be the downfall of what has been a successful political career.
The irrepressible Ogbuoji would prove critics and naysayers wrong, by going forward to win the primaries of the APC in a convincing victory that only speaks to the general sentiments of the good people of the state. The corollary of this victory is that he is today the man to beat, and his swelling popularity has continued to discomfort the Umahi led Ebonyi in political quarters.
With a nearly eight year stint in the red chambers of the National Assembly, it goes without saying the distinguished senator has all that it takes to steer Ebonyi and her people towards the path of sustainable growth and development that the state has been starved of since the superintendence of the incumbent administration, and the antecedents of the man both in the public and private sectors only point to his capacity to do so.
Since he served as the chairman of Afikpo local government Area during the military interregnum just before the birth of the Fourth Republic, Ogbuoji showed the quintessence in public administration. It is widely acknowledged across the length and breadth of the state today, that the current developments in the said Afikpo local government area are products of the foundation he laid while serving in that capacity. As the commissioner for Economic Empowerment and Poverty Reduction in the state during the administration of former governor Martin Elechi, Mr. Ogbuoji did not disappoint. It was indeed only a matter of time before he turned around the fortunes of the state in this capacity as the economic guru of the administration, which ended up in boosting the per capita income of the indigenes of the state thereby affecting her entire GDP at the time. One particular instance of his milestones in this capacity, which remains a topical issue in the state, was his role in the supervised construction and stocking of 35 catfish ponds in an effort to provide youth employment for the largely youth population of the state.
As a senator of the federal republic of Nigeria, representing Ebonyi South in the hallowed red chambers, Sonni Ogbuoji has not wavered in bringing the ‘goods’ home. But it is not only in the field of sports that the man has impacted his senatorial district and the state at large: through the Sonni Ogbuoji scholarship scheme, many students of the state have been able to achieve their dreams of a befitting education at different levels and are today better members of the society. The streetlight, boreholes, culverts and sundry projects that have been executed since he became the senator has also been of immense developmental impetus to the state hence his swelling popularity and yearning by the generality of the indigenes that he become the governor of the state.
Having passed his West African School Leaving examinations with distinction and bagging a degree in Agriculture from the great University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN, Ogbuoji is academically balanced and would bring his first hand knowledge of agro-economics to boost the economic fortunes of the agrarian state. Ogbuoji is engaging key stakeholders in the state on how to collectively bring back the state from its current anaemic condition.
But the greatest sigh of relief in all this is that the good people of the state are beginning to see the ruse. They have learned to ask the right questions, such as why their state has been run like a family affair with the governor’s family and friends dominating critical positions in the state. We are now beginning to question the exorbitant charges and intimidation by the tax regime in the state that has left us wondering if government is doing everything within its power to kill SMES.We are now questioning what happened to the ‘one farmer-one hectare’ project which has nothing to show on agricultural development in our state. Hence their resolve to put their money where their mouth is, this time.
And that Sonni Ogbuoji has all the answers to these nagging questions needs no emphasis. His mandate for the state, as he says in his own words, is to restore the state and her people back to the era of sustainable growth and development that Ebonyi is known for. And this he would do through the Ogbuoji Touch if elected in 2019.
*Mr. Ude, a political analyst, wrote from Ebonyi, Eboniyi State.