…Marks independence, state creation
From Obinna Odogwu, Abakaliki
Every October 1, Nigerians roll out drums to celebrate the country’s independence from the British colonialists. In Ebonyi State, October 1, provides double celebrations for the people because the state was equally created on the same day.
Thus as the country marked its 57 birthday, Ebonyi also celebrated 21 years of its creation.
Indeed, the state government was ready for this year’s celebrations as it lined up week-long activities for the dual events.
The activities started on September 25, with novelty matches organized by the state government for its different arms and units played at the Abakaliki Township Stadium.
Following this was the 2017 Ebonyi Peace Day and Ebonyi Cultural Fiesta held on September 26. The cultural fiesta was colourful as different cultural groups from different communities in Ebonyi stormed the Abakaliki Township Stadium venue of the event.
To cap up the activities of the day, Governor David Umahi led top government functionaries to inspect and commission completed projects in the state.
And on September 29, there was a quiz/debate for schools in the state followed by an Elders’ Party organized for septuagenarians.
On the D-day, Sunday, October 1, the Abakaliki Township Stadium was filled to its capacity.
At 11:00a.m, there was an interdenominational church service to mark the independence day and, of course, the celebration of Ebonyi at 21.
Clergymen of various ranks from various denominations and their members were all in attendance.
Shortly after the church service was over, there was a grand finale of all events lined up to mark Nigeria at 57 and Ebonyi at 21 anniversaries after which a state banquet was held at the popular Udensi Roundabout.
Speaking at the venue, Governor Umahi said that the state has every reason to celebrate the goodness of God in their lives.
He pointed out that since creation, God has blessed the state with leaders who in their various capacities have contributed generously to the growth and development of the state.
He pointed out that upon resumption of office, he had set the ball rolling, just as he has lived up to his responsibilities, especially on the dreams of the founding fathers of the state.
His words: “We remain grateful to God. We can humbly say that we have achieved a lot through God’s divine mandate within the two years of our administration. We have kept hope alive and delivered on our campaign promises despite obstacles that have starred us and still starring us in the face, but we are surmounting most of them.
“Today, I stand before you in total humility and in thanksgiving to Almighty God for making us partakers in the renewal and reconstruction of our dear state. Undoubtedly, this year’s celebration for us as a people is an important juncture in the annals of our statehood because we have worked hard to bring development to our state.
“Let me emphasize that the dream of our founding fathers was that should Ebonyi State be created; it will survive based on the human and mineral resources that God endowed us with. It is important that we know how far we have harnessed these resources that God gave to us.
“And so, we start with urban renewal. With gratitude to God, we can now say we have a capital city which we achieved by the foundation laid by the previous administrations and the giant efforts made by the first civilian governor of Ebonyi State, Dr Sam Egwu. We dotted our capital city with flyovers and I can assure you that the lengths of our flyovers are the longest in the country,” he said.
Also speaking, wife of the governor, Mrs Rachel Umahi, said that each time she looked back at the years, she would see reasons to thank God for the height of development the state had attained.
“I am very happy with what is happening and I thank God for my husband for all his giant strides towards the development of Ebonyi State,” she remarked.
She said that on her own, she has through her pet projects empowered many women in the state, especially the weak and the downtrodden.
“And for the women, I am sure that they are very happy because I have come to serve them. I am very passionate about the widows and the downtrodden and God has really used me to touch their lives and I can’t stop until their lives are made better.
“The first ladies that came before me really tried, especially Dr (Mrs) Sam Egwu who was very passionate with widows and still is. I think I’m actually copying Mrs Sam Egwu because she is a woman who has love for women and I am happy to be her daughter,” she said.
Also speaking, the Deputy Governor of the state, Dr Kelechi Igwe, said: “We have advanced tremendously in the area of development. Kudos to the governor, Engr David Umahi, who aggregated all the visions and dreams of our founding fathers and the desire of our people and put them into action.
“He did this because it is the panacea to solving most of the problems and challenges that bedevilled the state in the past couple of years. I must say with every sense of responsibility and humility, that first, the credit goes to God Almighty who gave Chief David Umahi to us as a gift and also installed this administration.
“We also thank the governor who is driven by purpose to do all that he is doing at the moment; not only to transform the aesthetic values of the state but also to build human capital which is critical to the development of any state or people,” he said.
Also the National Vice Chairman, South East, of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Austin Umahi, was full of thanks to God.
“I sincerely appreciate the Almighty God. It has been so far so good. Even as a child, when you’re 21 years, you’re old enough to go and live in your own house. I’m happy on the way we started, we are progressing.
“I also want to thank God for the gift He has given to Ebonyi State in the person of Chief David Nweze Umahi and his able team. They are doing wonderfully well. Ebonyi is no longer what it used to be. This state is working now. It means we are progressing,” he said.
Other highlights of the event included colourful displays by various cultural groups from different communities in the state.