From Obinna Odogwu, Abakaliki
The Ebonyi State Commissioner for Youths and Sports, Charles Emeka Akpo-Enika has given an insight on why non-natives were appointed into government positions in the state.
He also spoke on the Governor Dave Umahi administration, the strides and chances in 2019.
There are indications that the 2019 governorship elections in Ebonyi would be tough, especially from the flanks of the APC?
My brother forget that; we have been here. We know who is who in Ebonyi. We know their capacity. Will it be tough when those behind the noise are now outside the corridors of power? If they could fail woefully even with the powers of government how much would they do now? The APC you talked about has no chance in Ebonyi. If it were in some other climes, people should line up, plead with Umahi to continue unopposed. I laughed when I saw former governor Elechi talking against Umahi. I thought that these elders should have stopped their deceit.
The people have been convinced by the good works of the Umahi-led administration. The kicks from the opposition elements are not even able to distract the governor. His re-election is guaranteed by the electorate.
You are a native of Anambra State, how did you come into Ebonyi politics?
I came into politics in Ebonyi State even before PDP was formed. I contested under non-party arrangement, but in 1999 I became the pioneer youth leader of PDP in my ward, Ward 4, Azugwu/Azumili, Abakaliki. Thereafter, I became the councillor of the same ward between 2002 and 2004. But when I wanted another term as councillor, the immediate past governor of Ebonyi State, Chief Martin Elechi stopped non-indigenes from contesting councillorship elections and such other positions. You recall Dr. Jab Okolo who was to be re-elected as House of Assembly member was stopped during the primaries because he is not an indigene. All non-indigenes under that Elechi’s administration then were stopped from going for elective positions. But the trend has changed since Governor David Umahi came. He’s a governor who has open door approach to governance. He is open to everybody not minding where you come from. Today, I am a commissioner not minding that I am from Awkuzu community in Oyi Local Government Area of Anambra State. We also have Mrs Rose Ezeadikwa who hails from Anambra in UBEB as well as other non-indigenes in the administration.
We have an Hausa man as a technical assistant to the gvernor. We have an Abia State man, Nkem Madu, who also is a technical sssistant to the governor. We have another man from Anambra, Uchem Oka. We have eight technical assistants to the governor who are non-indigenes.
Some people think that Ebonyi people are timid and are only good for house-helps, how do you see that assumption?
Honestly, Ebonyi people are not timid. I was born and brought up here. I must tell you without fear or favour, Governor David Umahi is one of the best brains in Nigeria and he is an Ebonyi man. Those of us who are privileged to work with him have become fresh students. You cannot stay with him and not learn how to improve your life, spiritually and physically. He has made us better managers of resources, better managers of families and relationships, more so with our God. You know, the best teaching is living what you preach. How would anybody talk of Ebonyi people being timid or re you talking of humility? If humility, I would say they are. Still then, if you think you could mess up with the average Ebonyi man, he gives it hard and raw to you.
Mind you, Ebonyi has produced great minds and men who shaped affairs of this country. You talk of Dr. Akanu Ibiam, you think of former Senate President, Chief Anyim Pius Anyim, former governor Sam Ominyi Egwu, now a Senator and a host of others.
As part of the Umahi-led administration, where do you think he should make amends?
Maybe you are talking of the sectors that need more attention. No doubt some more attention need to be paid to some sectors, but I tell you that with what the administration has done in two years, no one needs to raise any doubts as to the capacity and will of the administration to continuously guide Ebonyi State to very enviable heights well above even the older states even with the harsh economic situations across the globe. It is clear even to the opposition elements that this David Umahi is God-sent to the Ebonyi people and the Nigerian nation.When you come to infrastructure, even as a commissioner, I cannot state with certainty the number of roads he has done within two years. How would you count? You might pass through a road; the next time you go through, you find it reconstructed within three months. In Ebonyi State, you hardly see potholes now. Federal roads have been reconstructed by Governor Umahi. You can now cruise through Abakaliki/Afikpo federal highway like you are driving through a boulevard. Amasiri/Okposi/Uburu federal road, section of Abakaliki/Enugu federal highway and many others have been reconstructed by the Ebonyi government. It is massive. And these are done within record time. I wonder where he gets the money to do these works. And these are not the ordinary roads construction you know. These are concrete roads, nine inches thick. He has completed three flyovers and street light across the capital territory. Apart from roads, Abakaliki Township Stadium that was abandoned by former Governor Elechi has been turned to one of the best stadia in the country. The VIP section is air-conditioned and equipped with toilets, conveniences, steady power supply- two brand new standby generators. We have digital score board there. The flood lighting facility is the latest available in the world. As I speak, the stadium guest house is under construction. That stadium can host Arsenal. Just go there and see what this man has done just within two years.
But he gave you Ministry of Sports, where people said there is no money?
Don’t mind them. Money is everywhere. I tell you, today people are envying my ministry, wanting to swap. Don’t wait for money to come. Just be creative and confident. Initiate viable programmes and you get the right partnership, you naturally get the attention of the government. But when all you think of doing is writing proposals, waiting for funds, you will remain a complainant.