Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State is said to be on his toes, trying to lift the status of Abakiliki, the state’s capital from a rural capital to modern capital befitting the state. In this piece, SAMSON NWAFOR looks at how the governor is transforming the state capital
From time immemorial, the people living in the area known as Ebonyi state today have been suffering from under-development. The people had lived for years without at least, basic amenities of life such as motorable roads, electricity and portable water.
This was why Ebonyi was tagged ‘guinea worm state’ because the people had ponds and streams as the only source of getting drinking water and for other domestic uses which paved way for the menace of guinea worm to ravage the populace.
Although, since 1996 when Ebonyi became a state, successive governments in the state have made frantic efforts to rewrite this story. Thanks to them because their efforts to some extent reduced the case of guinea worm in the state to zero level. But it appears not much has been done because the larger percentage of the people still lack these basic social amenities especially among the rural populace.
For instance, as at May 2015, when the former governor left office, residents of the state were still lacking good drinking water, electricity (not even a street light) and good road especially in the state capital, Abakiliki. That is not to say however, that the immediate past administration of Chief Martin Elechi did not do well.
Apparently aware of the importance of social amenities to human existence, Governor David Umahi since assumption of office on May 29, 2015 has ensured that every household in the state enjoys the three basic amenities of water, light and good road that had eluded them for years.
The governor swung into action and resolved to spend over N1 billion in the provision of streetlights in the state capital, Abakaliki and this has changed the story of state for d better. He tagged the street-lighting project ‘operation light up Ebonyi state’.
To this end, he has built and commissioned the first, second and third phases of the street-lighting projects in different locations. They are Gunning road, Abakaliki-Enugu road and Ebonyi State House of Assembly/Nkaliki road street-lighting projects.
The governor once said that “when we finish lighting the whole city, the people especially those living in the capital city will be saying, how have we been managing. He said that he believed strongly that little things make life easier for the people and “that is what we are doing for them”.
The state procured power generating sets for the project to ensure that there would be light every night at all the sections where the streetlights were installed. Just as he warned that contractors of streetlight project who are unwilling to cooperate with government would have their contracts revoked.
Supervisors were appointed to handle the fuelling and maintenance of the lighting facilities and armed security men had been deployed to protect the installations against vandalism.
The governor has assured that his administration was going to commission more roads, water, electricity projects and also do ‘stomach infrastructure noting’ that “we are going to continue that way”.
He is reconstructing over 200 kilometers of urban roads, provide water and sanitation facilities in the state capital to be completed before the end of December 2015 and would move with same aggressive pace to develop the rural areas.
Already, he has completed the Gunning Road in Abakaliki metropolis, while work is already at an advanced stage on the Nkaliki Road, which leads to the State House of Assembly and a lot of road maintenance works have been in progress.
Also, work is in progress on the Ogoja and New Market roads. These roads, when completed, will improve commerce in the state as they all lead to major markets in the city.
But there are reservations as to the quality of the work as most of the roads are being done with concrete base instead of the usual stone base which many believe are more durable.
The governor who is an engineer disagrees with the motion, maintaining that the concrete base lasts as long as the stone base. He said he decided to adopt the method because, while the stone base is only good for dry season, the concrete base not only that it can be used to construct roads both in the dry and rainy season it is the most suitable for the nature of the soil in the state.
Residents are excited about the projects because it paved way for better security and security awareness and has also boosted business activities. On the other hand, the project will boost Internally Generated Revenue of the state.
The governor during the second phase of the street lighting commissioning at Gunning road said “remember that when we came, this Gunning road, Ogoja road, New Market road and Nkaliki road were impassable but today we have made them passable and installed street light on them.
“So I want Ebonyi people to have hope. The most important thing is that when you hear the amount being used in doing all these, you will know that it is God who has brought us to power.”
Umahi has said it was the priority of his administration that light, water, road and clean environment are established in all the streets in the capital city assuring that “he is committed to doing them.
The laying of pipes for reticulation of
water in the capital city has reached advance stage of completion and according to the governor, “very soon water will be within the reach of every household in the capital city of Abakaliki” and governor Umahi has expressed readiness to do the same in the rural communities across the state as soon as that of the capital city is completed.
He is presently in talks with the Power Holding Company of Nigerian, PHCN, and other relevant agencies on how he can realize his rural electrification project, which he said will commence soonest.
The governor, who has reiterated his resolve to develop the state through massive infrastructure, said in the next two years every local government in the state must have at least one asphalted road.
The state Commissioner for Power, Mr. Mattew Uguru while speaking on the governor’s resolve to provide social amenities especially light to the people said Ebonyians are happy to see the new administration commission three phases of street light projects in different locations within just a very short time. He said the ministry of power in the state has been working tirelessly to light up the entire capital city before the end of December 2015 in keeping with directives of the governor.
He said the street lighting project was what the past administration could not do for eight years and that has been done within short a period with less than N30 million noting that “the street lighting of the state capital would enhance the social status, economic status and the security of the city.”