2023: Revisiting Governor Umahi’s audacity~NEWSEXTRA - News Extra Online

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Thursday, 31 December 2020

2023: Revisiting Governor Umahi’s audacity~NEWSEXTRA





After the news of Governor David Umahi’s defection was broken on the November 16, many doubting Thomases’ described his action as a betrayal of trust reposed on him by the people of Ebonyi state and the PDP.

Few days later, the much-anticipated defection became a topical issue, so much that many are already attributing his moves to 2023 presidency.

As a matter of fact, some went as far as calling him unprintable names for acting according to his conscience and convictions.

But rather than crucifying this deft move by a notable Igbo governor who has re-aligned for a cause, I think Umahi deserves resounding accolades for exemplifying boldness, courage and audacity in a country where such virtues are in dearth supply amongst the political class.

The good news is that today, a game changer has mainstreamed Ebonyi and the South-east into the politics of Nigeria, and it will only take a man of courage and vision to accomplish such an unprecedented feat since the return of democracy to Nigeria in 1999.
 
Come to think of it, many are of the views that the underdevelopment being witnessed in the East and the cry of being grossly under-represented was self-inflicted.

As keen political watcher, I joined my voice with that of other well-meaning Igbo that there is need to stop backing the wrong party, especially when our collective destiny was at stake.

Against this backdrop, Umahi’s action was timely and for me was not driven by selfish interests but a golden protest against marginalisation of the Igbo race.

Although some naysayers have posited that Umahi will regret his actions, some of us insisted the South-east would by his actions take their rightful position in the nation polity.

With the unfolding development, it would not be out of place to say that Umahi is indeed the ‘David’ Nigeria needs to consolidate on the achievements of President Muhammadu Buhari from 2023 going forward.

Governor Umahi, the new bridge-builder who has the capacity to unite the Igbo with other parts of Nigeria, by my estimation, is eminently qualified to become the next president of Nigeria if given the needed support.

For instance, his profile on governance and infrastructural development towers above him when you check the level of development recorded in Ebonyi under his watch as the governor.

 
Before Umahi became governor, Ebonyi was the least state in the South-east. Within his first tenure, he turned the table completely. He inspired the Ebonyi people who were once derided as the most backward among the Igbo states to rise to a place of honour.

Umahi stepped into the national honours scroll when he became the only governor in the South-east, arguably, in this political dispensation that was accepted across partisan lines.

In the period leading to the 2019 national elections, when he was to become Chairman of the South-east Governors Forum, almost all the opposition party candidates surrendered to him, while those who wanted to go to court beat a quick retreat having weighed the options.

For those who knew Abakaliki, the Ebonyi state capital, before now, used to be a little above a glorified local government with little amenities and road infrastructure, where one could trek round the developed areas within few hours.

 
Today, the story has changed. Abakaliki and some parts of the state have not only expanded but have been transformed beyond what was ever expected when the battle for who takes over the leadership of the agrarian state from Martin Elechi, the former governor, began.

Not only that his policy trust on the industrialisation was key, Umahi’s zeal to transform Ebonyi was borne out of his quest to deliver dividends of democracy to the people.

He began with the construction of three industrial clusters across the three senatorial zones aimed at developing each sector. These include agriculture, technology and human empowerments. As an engineer, he engaged new technology in constructions with particular reference to roads where 8 inches concrete roads started springing up in the state.

Parks, markets and streets started wearing new looks. Pedestrian crossing, flyovers, street lights, water fountains were also built to change the face of Ebonyi, transforming it to one of the fastest growing economies in Nigeria.

Not done, empowerment for youths and widows took a new shape in the state thereby positively impacting lives of many.  Today, many youths who were mere street urchins have become employers of labour through the empowerment programmes of the Umahi administration.

What about the Abakaliki water reticulation project? The governor ensured adequate supply of pipe borne water to every nook and cranny of the state, built the Ebonyi State School of Nursing and Midwifery and now on the verge of completing the Ebonyi international airport which is currently under construction by 2021.

I am more enticed by the clamour for the Igbo Presidency with someone like Umahi walking the corridor. It is my belief that if there was an Igboman who has the temperament and the capacity to lead Nigeria in 2023, Umahi is the one.

Emmanuel Ekwe, Esq.
Member, UN-SDGs Local Campaign Group, writes from Abuja, Nigeria.

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