That the Governor of Ebonyi State, Engr. David Umahi has made lasting strides in infrastructure and agricultural development in Ebonyi State is not in doubt. What people are saying now is that within his first term in the saddle as the governor of the state, Engr. Umahi has written his name in gold in the annals of the state as a result of the progresses he made in the areas of infrastructure development and agricultural re-invigoration.
Even President Muhammadu Buhari who paid an official visit to Ebonyi State recently was pleasantly surprised by the pace of infrastructural development embarked upon by Governor Umahi.
Among the initial projects which President Buhari commissioned were a 700-metre twin Trans-Sahara bridge linking Enugu and Ebonyi States with Cameroon; the Senator Offia Nwali flyover; the 14.5km Abakaliki-Afikpo road; foundation laying of the Ebonyi city mall; foundation laying of the Muhammadu Buhari bridge and unveiling of the Akanu Ibiam statue.
If anything, Engr. Umahi is God’s gift to Ebonyi State as people in the state have never seen massive infrastructural development in the state the way Governor Umahi has done it.
They have also not seen a governor who is very focussed in agricultural development the way Governor Umahi has focussed on agricultural development of the state.
Meanwhile, Governor David Umahi has presented year 2018 appropriation budget estimate of N208.331 billion to the state House of Assembly for approval.
The bill which has passed second reading at the Assembly was tagged “Budget of Divine Manifestation” with N100.562 billion expected to be sourced from both internal and external loans. Presenting the budget, governor Umahi explained that N13.965 billion will come from internally generated revenue within the state. Governor Umahi further noted that expected inflow from Federation
Account will gulp N72.916bn and N18.889bn unutilized dedicated funds that will be carried forward into the budget. He maintained that capital expenditure stood at N165.005 billion inclusive of contingency provision of N5.5bn for capital projects while recurrent expenditure will gulp N43.326bn including inbuilt contingency fund of N3bn.
According to the governor, “the economic sector has a provision of N124.064million, thus taking the largest-chunk of the Capital provision.
This is justified on the basis of Government’s serious commitment to commence the construction of flyovers, rehabilitation of urban roads, construction of rural roads and the ring road, water reticulation in our urban centers among other commitments.
“Within the Economic Sub-sector, works and transport has the highest allocation of N96.567bn followed by Ministry of Power with the sum of N4.626bn and the sum of N63.811bn is shared among other sub-sectors”, he said. Engr. Umahi also said that his administration in 2018 would increase her tax aggressively by diversifying in other areas untouched.
On his administration’s achievements in 2017 Governor Umahi said, “We have continued to pay salaries and pensions by 15th of every month.
We have cleared all arrears of salaries, pensions, leave allowances, promotion arrears and paid workers 13th month in December 2016. “We increased workers’ salaries by 5%. We have paid about 40% of all gratuity that was unpaid from the creation of the state.
We have injected about N4 billion to attract N4 billion from Bank of Industry making a total of N8 billion towards granting soft loans to civil servants and general public for business enterprise,” the governor said.
Speaking on the state government’s achievements in 2017 in the area of agricultural development when he placed the 2018 budget bill before the Ebonyi State Assembly men in the hallowed chamber of the State House of Assembly, Abakaliki recently, Governor Umahi said, “in keeping with our promise of making Ebonyi State the number one economy through agricultural revolution, we are almost there, adding that “this time last year, Ebonyians paid between N10,000 and N12,000 for a bushel of rice.
But today, because we have kept faith with our promise, Ebonyians today are paying just N5,000 for a bushel of rice, a reduction of more than 50%. And yet we still have plenty more to do in this area – the price of chicken most come down to N1,500”.
Still on agricultural development, he listed some of his achievements in the sector in 2017 to include purchase of three modern rice mills installed parboiling units of machines in the rice mills at Ikwo, Izzi and Oso Edda, advanced rice production to over 65,000 hectares in the state;
purchased four cassava processing machines issuing of loans of over N2.5 billion to farmers, expansion of fertilizer plant by building two new ware-houses and purchased a brand new fertilizer plant; launching of one-man one-hectare programme; purchase of over 50 tractors to help our farmers, among others.
Also in 2017, Governor Umahi said the state government empowered over 4000 youths with N250,000 each as grants especially those who were hawkers in Lagos. The government also empowered over 4,500 widows with N100,000 each to assist them start various businesses.
In the Works and Transport sub-sector, Ebonyi State government also under Engr. Umahi has recorded some impressive accomplishments.
Among the projects accomplished in this area are the following: Completion of over 300km of internal roads within the capital city; commencement of a minimum of 20km per LGA of road construction of which most of the roads are on concrete pavement.
Average completion of these roads is over 70%; building of over 10 bridges across the state;
completion of two twin flyover bridges of each length of 700m while the third bridge at International Market is over 80% completion; maintenance of over 200km of our roads scattered in our 13 Local Government Areas of the state.
In the education sub-sector, the Ebonyi State governor said the government in 2017 invested N6 billion from its UBEC Partnership Fund with Federal Government. The state governor has channelled these funds into the renovation and construction of new school buildings and equipping some of our schools.
Other achievements of the state government in the education sub-sector include: the accreditation of Ikwo College of Education fully to start the award of degree;
accreditation of School of Health Technology for issuance of their professional certificates; ensuring that the state maintains 10th position in National rating for WAEC and NECO Examinations; and the introduction of School Agricultural Programme in most secondary schools, among others.
The governor has also introduced school evangelism and moral instructions in all our primary and secondary schools and pay monthly subvention of N200 million to Ebonyi State University and N50 million to Ikwo College of Education, respectively.
In the area of electrification, the state government installed a minimum of 6km of street lights in all Local Government Areas of the state.
It also installed street light within our capital city with a coverage of over 30 percent. The state government also pursued aggressive rural electrification projects.
The government also purchased 1.5mw of biomass plants. They are now ready for installation. Also in 2017, the government built for EBSU, 100KVA Solar Plant.
On water supply, the Ebonyi State government accomplished the following in 2017, completion of Oferekpe water project and it is fully in operation, near completion of Ezillo Water Scheme while we have advanced Ukawu Water Project to a completion level of over 80%; and reticulated water within the capital city to about 35% coverage and we give water to the public daily.
Also, water projects are currently on-going at Uburu, Izicha Forest, Sakamori line, Ugwulangwu, Ishinkwo-Ukawu and Juju Hill and shall all be completed by first quarter of 2018.
In lands and housing, the state government has also accomplished the following projects three projects of new Government House is on-going and will be completed before the end of 2018. Ecumenical Centre site is about 30% completed and will be fully completed by 2018; the Mall Project has commenced.
The state Government has equally renovated the Presidential Lodge, the Governor’s Office and Governor’s Lodge and built the waste to wealth plant, and embarked on the building of the Mushroom Export Process Factory, and built a Modern Rest House for students of EBSU.
Concluding his speech at the state house of assembly, an elated Governor Umahi said: “Ebonyi workers have never had it so good since the creation of Ebonyi State. And they are going to have it even better. We have only done two years, and we still have many more years to go.”
By Edward Nnachi, Abakaliki