The governor of Ebonyi state, Engr David Umahi has expressed strong and solid stand on the People’s Democratic Party PDP, this Starnews gathered d
The governor of Ebonyi state, Engr David Umahi has expressed strong and solid stand on the People’s Democratic Party PDP, this Starnews gathered during an interactive session with the Chief Press secretary to Ebonyi State Government, Sir Emmanuel Uzor (KSJI)
Please, can we meet you?
My name is Sir Emmanuel Uzor, a journalist by profession. I worked with so many newspapers. I was the Chief correspondent in The Sun News before I joined Ebonyi State Government last year July. I am from Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
Is it true that electronic gadgets are banned in the Ebonyi Government House?
Journalism has gone digital that it is almost very difficult to practice it without electronic gadgets. So Ebonyi State Government (EBSG) being sensitive to that profession could not have banned use of electronic gadgets, so what people are saying especially those in the social media and opposition is wrong. The governor cannot condescend so low to the extent of banning use of electronic gadgets. What happened was that everywhere in the world, you have designated areas where they cannot allow gadgets. In the Executive Council Chambers during executive meetings, journalists are not allowed to come in because they are not council members. So if the government says they shouldn’t come in with their gadgets because that is where sensitive issues are being discussed, they cannot because they are not council members in the first place, not to talk about coming in with gadgets. Those who derive joy in voicing out frustrations took it up. It is ridiculous and should be discarded as pure rumor.
Is it a ploy to undermine the current government?
Of course it is! But unfortunately for them it hit the woodwork. It couldn’t generate much reaction they needed. There is no big deal in saying that this is a restricted area. Let us take for example, if you are going to the police, they will tell you that this is a restricted area, or in the court room where you are told to switch off your handsets. If your phone rings inside the courtroom, the judge can reprimand you or even remand you to prison. You have to respect the authority; no journalist can film the judges inside the courtroom despite the freedom of information. So all these are just rumours.
Is it not too early for the government to start campaigning?
Too early? Well, we are coming so late. The Ebonyi State Government is clearly late though we have not officially declared our intentions. He has not started the official campaign. What is happening is that the projects are so numerous that wherever he goes people campaign for him to come back and contest. Though he will not be swayed by the outbursts of the people and will continue his projects till the end of this year. So, by August/September, all the political parties would have concluded their primaries and campaign will kick off. So I do not think it is either early or late to start campaigning. We are not being carried away, we are working and the campaign is as good as completed because it is the people that are driving the campaign in their various local government and wards. The Governor did not instigate it, the stakeholders in the local government areas felt that he has done well enough and he deserves a second chance. Some even opted to buy his nomination form so as to show their gratitude.
Does that mean he has touched their lives personally?
Exactly, as you have seen!
Can you highlight more on his projects?
His projects are so numerous. First, he has brought in his best in infrastructures. We call it the “Umahi’s Signature”. It means that there is no project he has executed that does not have his imprint. That imprint is a seal of quality, durability and total conclusion in infrastructure. He has not abandoned any project and will never abandon any because when he came onboard, there where lack of infrastructures. The roads in the state were not motor able, even that of the Government House. What he did was to declare war on those areas and as such recreated and remolded the state capital thereby making it the best and most beautiful in the entire country. It is one of the areas he has touched people.
Then in the area of empowerment, we all are witnesses to tremendous empowerment programs he has mapped out for the youths. Over six thousand youths have been empowered with two hundred and fifty thousand naira each. Then four hundred and twelve youths have also been given tricycle just to lift them from their non self dignifying jobs. Beyond that, over six thousand widows were empowered with two hundred thousand naira to start various businesses. He also empowered four hundred and three officer’s and security personnel’s wives in the state. There were other empowerment programs including the four billion naira loan given to people from the Bank of Industries.
In the area of agriculture, the governor bought thirty brand new tractors which were distributed over the local governments to aid farmers. All these are geared into mechanizing agriculture. Over seventeen thousand farmers were picked from all the wards and empowered to cultivate rice and send to the seven rice mills over the state that are powered by Biomas. In the same vein, the government is targeting over twenty thousand farmers to be empowered in cassava farming.
The governor also created the “Millionaires Club” where people are given two hundred and fifty thousand naira to start any business of their choice. When they get a turnover within a year, they will be given additional five hundred thousand naira which, when properly invested yields millions for them.
Sir, in education, Ebonyi state is ranking 43% in the case of out-of-school children among the South-East states; What is the state government doing in regard to this?
Yes, there was prevalence of out-of-school children in Ebonyi state before we assumed office. Taking into cognizance the fact that education remains the solution to our backwardness and criminal marginalization which we suffered in the past. This administration swung into action upon assumption of office, by raising a task special force and committee to enforce return of children who are of school age back to school. It is worthy of note to tell you that Ebonyi state enjoys free education from primary to secondary schools. It then becomes funny and ridiculous that parents cannot send their wards or children to school to enjoy that free education. Because of this mentality, the governor raised the task force/committee which started work by catching those children who were seen hawking in the streets during school hours who are of school age. When caught, they were taken to the ministry and their parents were summoned and forced to sign an undertaking stating that their child will no longer be seen during school hours hawking. We did it and it worked like a magic.
We also went ahead to institute what we call school evangelism which looked into the depth of morals and how morality is fast eroding in our society. This program worked like magic because parents could now see the impact of education and the difference it makes.
About out people hawking and doing menial jobs in Lagos and other big cities, it was the alarming rate of this that made the governor travel all the way to Lagos to meet the Ebonyians there by December last year at the International Stadium Surulere. Over a thousand youths were empowered with two hundred thousand naira each and brought back to the state to start a decent business while others also started decent businesses over there. This empowerment program reduced the alarming rate of street hawking in major cities by 50%. This is just the first phase, the second phase will be launched very soon and is intended to capture up to ten thousand youths.
Back to the elections, what exactly is your office doing to make sure that majority of the people stand with the governor?
Majority of Ebonyians are with the governor already. What we are doing is that the beauty of democracy is allowing everybody to try their luck. In every contest, there are always pretenders and contenders. For now, we have been seeing some people making noise that they will come out. Let them come out; we are not bothered about it because we know that oppositions in Ebonyi exist only on the social media, I have not really seen them. That is why in other states, opposition political parties are filing out and most of them are really spurring for war. Maybe their consciences have failed them here in Ebonyi state. Why are you seeking to be the governor when there is a governor? And why are you trying to coarse people to vote for you whereas they have already accepted that the governor they know is the one who is on seat because he has done marvelously well and they want him to go back. So we welcome everyone, both contenders and pretenders. We want them to come as many as they are, let them come because the bible said they come in one way and you know how they scatter.
With regards to this, is it real or a rumor that the governor might cross-carpet?
Cross-carpet to where? Where is he cross-carpeting to? The governor is the head, the leg and the nucleus of PDP. He remains the pillar and the corrugated iron gate that everyone used to know. Why is he cross-carpeting? There is no political party that is healthy in this country now except PDP as it stands now. You cannot leave the known for the unknown. APC the ruling party at the centre is already bedeviled by political infirmity and so many things. Somebody who is leaving a clean house to a dirty house is not sane, and somebody who is already a landlord leaving his house to be a tenant is also not sane. So what is happening is just a mere wishful thinking – we want to capture this state, so we wish Umahi could join us. Everybody wants Dave Umahi to identify with them. They just want Ebonyians to sympathize with them, but the governor is so busy and unrelented that he cannot look their way. He is doing his business and he is doing it very well; his business is to take Ebonyi state to the El-Dorado. There is no need to cross-carpet, as a matter of fact there is no place to cross-carpet to, in fact there is no carpet again. So, we dey gidigbam and Umahi remains the boss!
Sir, is there any medium your office has put in place to hear from Ebonyians?
We hear from our people. This is the most accessible government; this is the most accessible administration. The governor is not a sitting governor. What I mean by sitting governor is that he is not the type of man that sits in the office and writes memo, he is a governor that works for 24hrs. If you don’t see him here, you’ll see him in Kpirikpiri market supervising projects himself. So he hears from the people, he interacts directly with the people. We have mechanism of social interaction which is the link between the government and the people. How does it work? It works by way of convoking a stakeholders meeting severally, periodically where the people, town union executives, traders, artisans, women and children they come together. We have so many forums where we interact. In this forum, you tell us what the problem is and then we address it. Here, students send text to the governor especially those who are in unity schools. If you do not feed them very well, they will send text to the governor and the governor will in turn summon the principal. This is because the governor is accessible, send him a text message now and you will get a response instantly.
There is no way a government can satisfy everybody at the same time, we have what we call a paradigm shift whereby the little allocation we get from the federal government to solve conflicting priorities because everything in Ebonyi state is a priority. When we finally leave office come 2023, the next government that will come in will now focus in another area because the area of infrastructure would have been completed. There would have been roads in everywhere, bridges and other things. People who might have grievances with this government might be because there is no money to share but we are trying to plead with them. What we are doing is that we are building for tomorrow, we cannot eat our future. If we eat our future just to answer honorable, time will come when you will be the only honorable in your village driving cars. The youths might revolt one day and lynch you, burn your cars and properties because it will get to that level. If we build these roads to our various local governments and various communities, we will have access roads to come out and do business because interconnectivity brings about development.
Sir, finally we want to know, what admonishing words do you have for these people that keep bringing up rumors?
Yeah they will fizzle out. It will fizzle out because it is normal. The advent of social media rumors in Ebonyi state came late. Our people keyed into the social media very late and what we are seeing is just the youthful exuberant. We are still enjoying the euphoria of being in your house and saying anything you want to say. It is like this because we have complete freedom of speech in Ebonyi state. That is why anybody can say anything and nothing happens. So, let them enjoy their freedom because we know that not everybody will believe in what you are doing. Some are doing it not because they do not see what we have done, but because some are under a spell to always attack good things and they need deliverance. But what we are praying for is that they will change and repent because you don’t fight a man under grace. What the governor has done, no government in this country have been able to do it and it is so clear that everybody is seeing it. You go to our flyovers; it is the best in the country. You come to the urban renewal; Abakaliki remains the cleanest and modest state capital and we are still continuing! Go to Akanu Ibiam flyover, we are building another tunnel that if you are going to our ecumenical centre or the shopping mall you just climb the monorail and you are there, and then our shopping mall is growing like a tomato. People are coming, yes they are coming. As I am talking to you now, the minister of power, housing and works; Babatunde Fashola, former governor of Lagos is in the state. He has come to see what we have done. This brings us to the rumor that when opposition sees what you have done with this little money, they say the federal government has paid us for the project. As I am talking to you, it is one of the things we are going to tell the minister, this is how much we spent on this project with our money, when are you paying us? They ought to refund us, but as it stands now, we haven’t even notified them of how much we used to build that, not to talk of paying us back. So anybody that is talking about the federal government financing us should go back and research well. If the federal government has been so magnanimous, how many flyovers have they built since this administration started? Why must they come to Ebonyi to build in a (according to Obasanjo) “backyard state”? It requires courage and commitment. So these oppositions and rumor mongers, I will always advice them, you must not be in politics just to be on the opposing side. There are people who are destined to be in opposition, even when the good thing is happening they will be in opposition. When something good is happening in this side they will run to the other side just because they have been cursed to be in opposition. So we are telling them that the time has come, we will always bring them close. There are so many of them that are coming in. In the next few months we will start receiving big wigs from the opposition because some of them have seen the end from the beginning in their party. So, sharp and smart ones are already indicating interest to come home and we will always remember to bring them. So my final word is; the house is open, it is the house of umbrella, it is the house that accommodates and the governor is the man that doesn’t look at your face or where you come from or what you do. If you have the potentials to work and survive, he will bring you in. Thank you.