By Francis Nwaze
It was Rosalynn Carter who once said, and I quote, “A leader takes people where they want to go but a great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go but ought to be.”
Based on the above denominator, Governor David Umahi, as part of his campaign manifesto during the 2015 general election, promised to bequeath roads that will be as smooth as “mat” to Ebonyians, if elected in the polls.
This genuine desire to construct world-standard roads for the citizenry of Ebonyi State, among other mouth-watering promises, jointly convinced the good people of the state to vote massively for him in the 2015 governorship election, hence his landslide victory.
Upon swearing in as the third civilian governor of the state on May 29, 2015, Gov. Umahi, like a man on a mission, hit the ground running by introducing an uncommon road construction technology, the eight-inch concrete pavement, and, coincidentally, embarked on the construction of 13 kilometres of roads in each of the 13 local government areas, in line with the new road technology prevalent in Arab nations.
Six years down the line, virtually all the roads within the Abakaliki Capital City and other internal roads in various council areas of the state have been completely reconstructed and have already been put to use by road users.
Apart from the various rural roads that have been constructed or reconstructed across the state, virtually all roads within the Abakaliki Capital City and its environs that were generally in sorry state have been reconstructed in eight-inch rigid thickness, durable enough to last over 50 years.
All over Ebonyi State, testimonies abound how the revolution in the road technology has further transformed the transport sector such that transporters now only visit mechanic sites occasionally for minor servicing and maintenance of their vehicles and not necessarily to fix breakdown as a result of bad terrain of the roads.
Ebonyi State that was hitherto virulently addressed as the “dust of the nation” by our traducers has become a brand name in the discourse of sophisticated road construction in Nigeria such that motorists no longer have need going to car wash except going to greet their old friends.
Also, the rate of road mishaps has reduced drastically across the state such that throughout the Yuletide of 2020 and the immediate past 2021, there was only a pocket of road accidents within the state capital as against what it hitherto was, courtesy of the durable and motorable road infrastructure of the Gov. Umahi-led administration.
Moreover, the rate of unemployment among employable youths has further reduced in the state as most graduates of engineering and related disciplines from the state have been gainfully engaged in the direct labour execution of the newfound concrete road technology, while business also thrives in the state as the transportation system has improved.
Above all, Ebonyi State has finally become the centre of attraction as sister states now look up to the state for emulation of the unique road construction technique to enable them bequeath enduring roads to their citizens.
Pointedly, the massive road construction by Gov. Umahi’s administration has further opened up various parts of the state, especially the rural areas, for more business and agricultural harnessing.
At the last count, Gov. Umahi’s administration has completed the construction of over 600 roads of varying lengths across the 13 LGAs, all in concrete pavement.
Today, the Gov. Umahi administration, in partnership with the African Development Bank, has started the construction of the 198-kilometre Abakaliki Ring Road project in concrete pavement to connect the benefitting eight LGAs to the grid of development.
These entirely have further portrayed Gov. Umahi as a great leader and a dependable promise-keeper, having promised Ebonyians a massive road network in which smoothness would be comparable to the mat, and has worked hard to deliver the same in quality and quantity.
No wonder well-meaning Ebonyians and Nigerians, in general are massively in support of Gov. Umahi to contest the presidency of Nigeria come 2023, to enable him deploy his engineering aptitude in the overhaul of our nation, Nigeria.
The truth is that, in line with the saying by Rosalynn Carter that a leader takes people where they want to go but a great leader takes them where they don’t necessarily want to go but ought to be, Ebonyians genuinely needed good roads but no one ever envisaged use of cement in the construction of roads before the breakthrough by Gov. Umahi, hence, he should be variously commended for his trailblazing efforts, which have further lifted Ebonyi higher in the development index in the country.
This is the reason Ndigbo should jealously guard the rare prodigy in Gov. Umahi and market him for export to the nation’s seat of power in 2023, for Nigeria genuinely needs Gov. Umahi to be great again.
•Nwaze is Special Assistant to the Governor on Media and Publicity