From Chijioke Agwu, Abakaliki
Ebonyi State Governor, Chief David Umahi, has been receiving large doses of praises and commendations lately for bringing his rich engineering background and innate quest for excellence to bear in his avowed commitment to the development of the youngest South-East state.
Ebonyi has been variously touted as an emergent economic hub of the region due to the quality infrastructural development crisscrossing nooks and crannies of the state, courtesy of Governor Umahi’s leadership ingenuity.
During the just-concluded #EndSARS youth summit in the state, which attracted notable Nigerians and celebrities from diverse backgrounds such as football legend and former Super Eagles captain, Nwankwo Kanu, former national team goalkeeper, Peter Rufai, and a veteran Nollywood actor, Zack Orji, Umahi was given thunderous applause and a standing ovation for the manner he has quickly and beautifully transformed the once rusty town of Abakaliki into a mega city.
Wowed by the beauty of Abakaliki, the capital, and the quality of infrastructural development in the state, Orji said Abakaliki could compete with any city in the world in terms of development and modern facilities. He said he would bring Nollywood to the state to shoot films of international standard and quality.
Orji said: “We are coming to Ebonyi State to shoot films that will be of international standard because what we have in Ebonyi State is of international standard. I encourage the youths who are desirous of building a career in movie industry to get ready.”
In the same taken, Rufai described Umahi as God’s gift to Ebonyi people, adding that he was the kind of man needed to reposition the nation and bring development to all parts of the country.
He posited that “Ebonyi people have got a gift from God, and that gift is Governor Umahi. He is a kind of man we want in Aso Rock to transform the country the way he has transformed Ebonyi State.”
Barely a week after the #EndSARS youth summit, the governor again received garlands from the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), an agency under the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology. The agency used the opportunity of a visit to Ebonyi to also pour encomiums on the governor for the massive transformation in the state within six years of his administration.
NASENI said, with what Umahi has achieved in Ebonyi in the midst of meagre allocation, the governor could do more, if given the opportunity to govern the entire nation. It described Umahi as the best governor in Nigeria and urged him to make himself available for the presidential race in 2023.
Executive vice chairman and chief executive of NASENI, Prof. Mohammed Sani, who gave the endorsement on behalf of the organisation during a courtesy call on the governor in his office on March 17, said Umahi had made engineers proud. According to Sani, the governor deserved to be elected President of Nigeria, to enable him replicate nationwide what he has done in Ebonyi State.
He assured Governor Umahi that professional engineers in the country would back him to emerge the President of Nigeria, if he declared for the contest. The NASENI boss further commended the governor for defecting to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), disclosing that the Nigeria Academy of Engineering had nominated Umahi for a special award for making them proud in governance of the state.
“I always try to call a spade a spade. I don’t like being partisan but, today, I’m going to be a bit partisan; Your Excellency, as an agency with the mandate to promote and fast-track self-reliance, technology and knowledge manufacturing and human development, I need not to consult my board and management before declaring you the best governor so far as NASENI is concerned.
“Your Excellency, I’m happy that I was able to be in Ebonyi State and to see things for myself. I will tell you at the end of this presentation why you are so selected. But let me tell you also that, on my way, before arriving here, I have already as a council member of the Nigeria Academy of Engineering sent some pictures and my recommendation to the president-in-council and I have been mandated to nominate you for a special award for doing the engineering profession proud in Ebonyi State.
“The national president said I should send your curriculum vitae and I have communicated this through the state commissioner for agriculture, who led the team that went round.
“Your Excellency, to be a bit political, we are inviting you to come and duplicate what you are doing in Ebonyi State, nationwide.
“I assure you that the engineering profession of which you belong, your constituency, will be massively behind you. And I’m glad that you’ve made our task easier, because the platform you launched is already the ruling party,” he said.
Making a presentation on the achievements of NASENI in recent times, he noted that the agency was willing to partner with governor towards full realization of his industrialization target in Ebonyi State.
Speaking, Umahi extolled the agency, describing it as the beginning and end of the problems of Nigeria. He added that the agency represented the practical demonstration of what the engineering profession should be. He also noted that the agency deserved serious attention of government in order to resolve the many problems facing the nation.
“I’m so touched and lack words to describe what NASENI is doing, but I can say that this is the hope for our country, Nigeria.
“Sometimes, we don’t know what we need as a nation. But, honestly, after food, health and education, this is the next thing Nigeria should look after. This is the beginning and the end of our problems. I never knew this kind of thing was in existence, that you are the answer to our problems.
“I believe strongly that we can do it, looking at the things you have produced locally. Is it the science equipment, the agriculture equipment, the solar power? So many of them,” Umahi said.
He noted that Nigeria would continue to go backward, if it failed to work, and de-emphasize the belief that money should be printed and shared, saying, “it is through the achievements of NASENI that (we) will bring investors into the country.”