Reviewing and reflecting on the events of 5th and 6th May, 2022; the two days of President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to Ebonyi State reminds me of the historical quote of Les Brown who stated that, “The difference between setting a goal and achieving it is in having a good plan and working it.”
Another supportive quote was that of Brian Morris, “He (Walt Disney) was a man that achieved what he set out to achieve, proving that if you work at something hard enough, you will succeed at it.”
In summary, let me also quote President Muhammadu Buhari while commending Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi Stated, when he stated during the visit, ” I am not surprised of the quality and standard of projects in Ebonyi State because the two-time governor of Ebonyi State is an engineer of repute.”
Based on the above quotes, let me reiterate that Engr. David Nweze Umahi, the Executive Governor of Ebonyi State, is that man who has a dream and set up a plan on how to achieve it and by all records he normally surpassed whatever may be his dream so far the emancipation and development of Ebonyi State is concerned.
His feats and wonders in Ebonyi State caused President Muhammadu Buhari to exclaim, “I am not an engineer by discipline but my eyes are very clear, even through my eyeglasses, YOU ARE AN ENGINEER WITH REPUTE; if you could achieve all these pieces of infrastructural revolution within less than eight years.”
For the avoidance of doubt, the aim of this treatise is to take a holistic look of, and reflection on, the two-day historical visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to Ebonyi State from 5th to 6th May, 2022.
My Past Visits to Ebonyi State:
Before embarking on this treatise properly, let me reiterate incase some of you may have forgotten that on two occasions my good friend, Barr. Uchenna Orji, the Honourable Commissioner for Information and Orientation of Ebonyi State whom I christened the Orator of South East had invited me to monitor some of the feats displayed before the August Visitor and President of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari.
On those two occasions, what was exposed to me was just a tip of the iceberg of what was displayed before President Muhammadu Buhari for commissioning within three weeks of my monitoring. I could only monitor the 16 flyovers, the out-of- this-world King David University of Medical Science and few of the health facilities. My findings were all listed in my publications then.
The Major Aim of this Treatise:
My concern therefore in this attempt is to review and reveal some of the projects that were commissioned by Mr. President in which out of over 300 key projects executed by the man most people call the enigma of this dispensation, only 16 were selected to be commissioned by the peoples President on this special occasion of his visit.
The Two Day Historical Visit in Retrospect:
President Buhari, though a tested and reputed Army General, never had it so tough comparable to what he witnessed during the two days he spent without one minute rest. He thanked God that he survived the ingenuity of the man they call the Akuburaoaha of Igbo Land (The Wealth Possessor that touches everyone).
From the report made available to this writer through the report of Mr. Femi Adesina the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity; President Muhammadu Buhari on arrival flew straight from the Akani Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, with a presidential chopper to Uburu the hometown of Governor Umahi and Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu the former Minister of Science, to inaugurate King David University of Medical Sciences, Uburu.
Before, I forget, Uburu is the only town in Nigeria to have produced a sitting Governor and a sitting Minster within the same period.
At hand to assist Governor Umahi to receive the People’s President were the Chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum, Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi,,
Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo and his counterpart from Jigawa, Abubakar Badaru, plus other great personalities that included Dr. Kelechi Igwe the Deputy Governor of Ebonyi State, Members of the National and States Assembly, traditional rulers, captains of industries, Stakeholders, etc.
The President commenced his two-day visit with the commissioning of projects at the state-owned King David University of Medical Sciences, Uburu, including a twin flyover, 12-kilometre dualised federal road from Mbu in Enugu State to Uburu, the University Building and the University Medical Hospital, facilities and equipment.
At his first stop in the State for the inauguration of the 700-metre length twin-flyover (also called King David’s University Flyover), constructed at the cost of N2 billion by the State government, President Buhari said:
”I am not an Engineer by discipline but my eyes are very clear, even through my eyeglasses. I am impressed with this performance and I know the projects will last. I congratulate the Governor on this feat and I am pleased to be associated with it.”
While in Uburu, Ohaozara Local Government Area of the State, the President also inaugurated the Cancer Centre at the King David University of Medical Sciences, built and equipped by the Federal Government under TETFUND.
Governor Umahi, who thanked the President for graciously approving the funding of the Centre, said the facility can rank with other centres around the world.
”It is in the same standard as Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) and the State government also contributed to the project to bring it to completion,” he told the President.
He later proceeded to Muhammadu Buhari International Airport, Onueke via a Chopper. There, the president inaugurated the 5km dual carriage airport road and the airport’s Presidential Lounge.
The Governor announced that the tarmac and runway of the airport, built with concrete, had attained over 70 per cent completion, and would be ready the next month.
Other projects inaugurated by the president include the new Government House, the Centenary City and reconstructed St. Margaret Umahi International Market Complex, Abakaliki. The President also inaugurated the Aisha Buhari Wife of Governor’s Office Complex, Akanu Ibiam Lodge (new Governor’s Lodge), and Ebonyi House.
President Buhari was later hosted to state dinner by the Ebonyi State Government, on Thursday night. The next day, he inaugurated the Muhammadu Buhari Light Tunnel Flyover and Ebonyi Shopping Mall.
Mr President concluded his visit to Ebonyi with a closed-door meeting with South-East leaders in Abakaliki before departing for Abuja on Friday.
Reviewing Some of the Projects Commissioned by Mr. President
King David University of Medical Sciences
Ending foreign health tourism is the objective of the huge investments in establishing and unveiling a world class medical University with sophisticated blend of contemporary health and modern education by Governor Umahi. This was highlighted in my previous visits to the State.
The new Medical College in Ebonyi – the David Nweze Umahi University of Medical Sciences is a Centre of Excellence in cancer management, kidney transplant with dialysis centre, liver transplant, and other diseases management and treatment facilities. It has the latest diagnostic equipment that can be rated amongst the best anywhere in the world. The technology to be employed is equally second to none.
The centre is manned by the best hands anywhere in the world and the structures are classical. The diagnostic equipment came directly from the manufacturers and is ready for use. It’s going to be a centre of medical tourism and it will attain the international status of such a big institution. For this, power supply will be 24 hours as it would have power from solar, generator, and national grid.
The vision behind the establishment of David Nweze Umahi University of Medical Sciences, according to Chief Emma Obasi, the Principal Secretary to Governor Umahi, is to halt and reverse medical tourism abroad; halt and reverse capital flight due to medical treatment and management of high calibre diseases; provision of access to ultramodern medical equipment and personnel and to expose our medical students to the best training facilities available in the world.
The Medical University is to house the best Medical College comprising faculties and departments in all medical and allied medical disciplines and best teaching cum specialist hospital comprising about 5-6 Centres of Excellence in Medicare.
The University rated as the best Medical University and Centre of Excellence in Medicare in entire Africa, has commenced operations with the production of some scarce sensitive hospital necessities.
Within a few months of the take-off the University established a feat of becoming the first University in Nigeria to commence the building of an Oxygen Production Plant. According to the Vice Chancellor of King David University of Medical Science Uburu Ebonyi State, Professor Jessy Uneke, the institution has commenced the building of an Oxygen Production Plant to stem the dearth of the product in hospitals and schools in the country.
The University commenced 2021/2022 admission of Students in all 17 Programmes recognized and approved by the National Universities Commission /NUC. Professor Uneke further disclosed that the University was the first to start 17 courses at the same time in Nigeria and was using Ph.D Holders to start the University. There are additional four courses that the institution would equally commence in no distant time.
Dialysis Production Plant is being constructed and it would be done between December 2021 and January 2022. In dialysis there is a special kind of consumable called Dializer for Liver and Kidney Transplant.
Professor Uneke outlined the 17 Programmes in the University to include Medicine and Surgery, Pharmacy, Nursing Science, Medical Laboratory Science, and Physiotherapy. Others include Biometric Engineering, Optometry, Radiography and Radiation Science, Computer Science, Industrial Physics, Industrial Chemistry, Biology and Biotechnology, Dentistry, Micro-Biology, Parasitology, Public Health and Human Nutrition/Dietetics.
The University Don emphasized that the Ebonyi State Executive Council has approved that all First Class Graduates of English and other related Disciplines be engaged to teach in pre-degree Courses of the institution while maintaining the minimum academic teaching qualification for lecturers in Ph.D Degrees.
Professor Uneke said that the University was formally recognized by the National University Commission (NUC) on 7th July 2021. He said; “When the NUC came for Resource Verification and after assessing the resources we had the privilege that 20 of our 20 Departments presented were all approved. Twenty of the Departments were running 17 Programmes, we also have all the 17 programmes approved.”
The University has Special Centres including Cancer Centres, Kidney, Eye Centres, and Sports. “We want to provide a conducive learning environment.”
He disclosed that he was appointed the Vice Chancellor of the institution on 1st June 2021. He commended the Visitor of the University and Governor of Ebonyi State David Umahi for his support that facilitated it’s recognition. The varsity has admitted 1,500.
Federal Government Takes Over the King David University
Awed by what he saw during the commissioning of the hospital section of the university, Mr. President acceded to the request of the Ebonyi State governor for the Federal Government to take over the running of the teaching hospital.
According to Governor Umahi, “This hospital is beyond the scope of any State government to run and we have been celebrating your approval of our request and are very proud that you are here to commission it yourself.
”You have left a lot of indelible marks in the development of this Centre of Excellence and it will never be forgotten,” he said.
In this regard, President Buhari assured that the Federal Government would take over the management of the University of Medical Sciences, Uburu, Ebonyi State, as a Federal Medical University.
The President told the people of Ebonyi that the process for the change of ownership of the university is on and would be concluded soon.
On the request by the State governor to buy airport equipment valued at N10 billion, the President promised to find out the position of the Ministry of Aviation regarding that.
President Buhari Explained His Relationship with Governor Umahi
The President recounted that the last time he visited the State in 2017 in the 2nd quarter of the first tenure of Governor Umahi’s administration, he had witnessed the commencement of what he called mind-blowing projects.
“I saw in Governor Umahi a strong desire to change the narrative of the State and meet the aspirations of the founding fathers.
“I was enthused by Your Excellency’s vision to create the needed environment and raise the economic status of the State.
“I remember with pleasure the hospitality that I received, how I was given a Chieftaincy title as ‘Enyioha 1 of Ebonyi State’ and ‘Ochioha 1 of South East’ by the Traditional Rulers of Ebonyi State and South-East respectively,’’ he said.
“I commissioned two twin-flyovers, 14 km Abakaliki – Afikpo Road, performed the foundation Laying Ceremony of the Shopping Mall as well as the 4-way Light Tunnel named after me.
“At that time, your administration was in the opposition party, and yet you accorded me a spectacular reception. I thank Your Excellency and the good people of Ebonyi State.”
The President told the Governor that he was honoured “that in the life of my administration, Ebonyi State government and her people made the right choice to join our Party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). Again, I commend the Governor for the courage to join the party at the centre and for all his contributions in moving our nation forward.”
Lauding the massive life-transforming projects executed by Umahi in the last seven years, the President told the Governor:
“You have done your people proud. I am particularly amazed by the economic development records of the State under your administration, the wonderful network of roads, critical infrastructure and investment opportunities in the State.”
He also commended the State for emerging as the second overall best in fiscal performance in Nigeria and for soaring high in fiscal discipline, transparency, and accountability in the use of public resources, saying:
“It shows you have zero tolerance for corruption and waste of public funds. Indeed, people of proven fiscal discipline and track records of performance are desired in our quest for nation building.”
1. Commissioning of King David University of Medical Sciences and the
Inspection of the facilities/Medical Equipment
2. Commissioning of the University School Building and inspection of the Facilities
3. Commissioning of the Cancer Centre after inspection
4. Commissioning and Inspection of the Renal Transplant Centre, Eye Centre, Dialyzer production factory Renal Transplant Centre and Eye Centre
5. Commissioned the Twin Flyover
6. Commissioning of 12km dualized Federal Road constructed with concrete from Uburu in Ebonyi State to Mpu (Enugu State)
7. Mr. President commissions the Ultra Modern KDUMS flyover
Commissioned Projects at the President Muhammadu Buhari International Airport, Onueke:
A. Inspection of the Concrete Runway of President Muhammadu Buhari Airport, Onueke
B. Inspection and commissioning of President Muhammadu Buhari Presidential Airport Lounge
C. Commissioning of Airport Fire Service Station
D. Commissioning of 5km Dualized Airport Concrete Road Coated with Asphalt
E. Commissioning of President Muhammadu Buhari Presidential Lodge
F. Commissioned the Five Kilometers Dualized Airport Road
8. Commissioning of Aisha Buhari Building, Wife of the Governor’s Office Complex
9. Commissioning of Akanu Ibiam’s Lodge the New Governor’s Lodge) and Ebonyi House (Governor’s Office).
10. Commissioning of the Reconstructed St. Margaret Umahi International Market Complex, Abakaliki
11. Commissioning of President Muhammadu Buhari Tunnel Flyover, Abakaliki
12. Commissioning of the Ebonyi Shopping Mall, Abakaliki
13. Inspection and commissioning of Ebonyi Shopping Mall
14. Commissioning of the Ecumenical Center
15. Inspection of the Ebonyi State Agricultural Industrial Clusters
16. Audience with the South East Leaders
1. Iyere Edda Twin Flyover Under construction
2. A Section of Abakaliki – Enugu Express Way Dualized Concrete Road, Completed
The President departs for State House by Chopper enroute Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport,
Barr Uchenna Orji the Hon. Commissioner for Information Throws Light on Some of the Projects Commissioned By Mr. President
The unsung Orator from Ebonyi State throws more light on some of the projects commissioned by Mr. President, he stated thus, “Chief Eze, indeed President Buhari has helped us to celebrate and expose to the entire world the giant strides of our dear Governor and through that opportunity, the whole world now sees what our dear Governor has done in the area of infrastructural development. His coming has given us an opportunity to commission all the projects that have been completed. Those that are yet to be completed will be commissioned before the end of the tenure of this administration.
He throws more light on some of the commissioned projects:
1. The emergence of the University of Medical Sciences that has been adjudged by NUC to be the most beautiful, and it is going to be a centre of excellence for the treatment of those terminal diseases that normally take us out of this country.
2. The African biggest light tunnel; it is a four-way light tunnel linking to different facilities;
3. Africa’s biggest shopping mall, the shopping mall comprising over 5000 modern shops
4. Africa’s biggest ecumenical centre
That Ecumenical Centre has a sitting capacity of about 20,000 and attracts conferences, thereby triggering social-economic development of Ebonyi State.
The ecumenical centre is like heaven on earth. It is a multifunctional centre. Apart from providing for the spiritual enrichment of our people, it is going to be a money-spinner because it is going to be hosting international conferences and corporate meetings. The interesting thing about this is that our people who have spiritual issues, when they go to the ecumenical centre to seek the face of God, God will hear their prayers. So, it is one of our best legacies.
5. The most beautiful Government House called the Three Arms Zone.
6. The biggest south-east international market, the international market with over 3000 number shops, the biggest in Southeast.
7. The emergence of an ongoing international airport that when completed will be like Abuja and Lagos international Airports.
These and many other legacy projects were commissioned and showcased the Ebonyi State Governor Chief (Engineer) David Nweze Umahi as a trailblazer.
Appreciation by Mr. President
The President thanked the State government for the honour of naming the State International Airport and magnificent 4-way Light Tunnel after him.
He expressed confidence that these facilities and many more will further the frontiers of economic development in Ebonyi State in particular and the nation at large.
President Buhari, who assured the government and people of Ebonyi State of the support of his administration to enable the Governor to accomplish his vision for the State, thanked them for the reception accorded him during the two-day State visit.
”Thank you for keeping faith with our administration’s development programmes and the manifestoes of our great party, the All Progressives Congress (APC),” he said.
Umahi, while thanking the President for the various forms of assistance to the State, said the financial assistance of infrastructural refund, payee refund, Paris club, bailout funds, agricultural loans, fertilizer support and budgetary funds are instances of great support to all States of the Federation.
”As Chairman of South-East Governors’ Forum, I must also thank Your Excellency for all the approvals you have made for the construction of the second Niger Bridge which is almost completed, rehabilitation of Akanu Ibiam International Airport, reconstruction of Enugu-Port Harcourt and Enugu-Awka expressway among others,” he said.
The Governor pledged the support of Ebonyi people and indeed all South-East people, saying; “We value greatly this wonderful fatherly love and fair disposition to the plights of our people.”
Before the dinner, the President had inaugurated Office Complex of the Wife of the Governor, Akanu Ibiam Lodge (New Governor’s Lodge), Ebonyi House (Governor’s Office), Light Tunnel Flyover, and the Ebonyi Shopping Mall.
Other Remarkable Visions of Governor Umahi
Not satisfied with his feats in the education sector, Umahi is still seeking the approval of two more universities for Ebonyi. Recently he visited the Headquarters of National University Commission at the FCT, Abuja, to seek the approval of two specialised universities in Ebonyi State.
The Governor is of the firm belief that the new Universities – Aeronautic Engineering and ICT, Science and Technology, will not only add to the ongoing speedy development of Ebonyi State but will equally develop Ebonyians, Nigerians, and beyond as well as contribute to the Internally Generated Revenue of the state which will, in turn, be used for the further development of the state.
The new Aeronautics Engineering University shall be sited beside the ongoing International Airport, Ezza South, while the University of ICT, Science and Technology shall be sited in Izzi Local Government Area.
Governor Umahi handed over the application for the universities approval to the Commission’s Executive Secretary, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed in his office and it is expected that the commission will study it and get back to the state government as soon as possible.
Through this visionary leader, Ebonyi State can now boast of an 80 metric tonne capacity fertilizer blending plant, the biggest in the Southeast. It has engaged not less than 2,000 workers – direct and indirect jobs. And it is participating in the presidential rice initiative. Ebonyi is one of the three largest producers of rice, all of these empowered by the governor’s programmes on agriculture.
Of course, it might interest the general public to know that in each local government, the governor ensured the construction of not less than five kilometers of roads. In addition, the governor ensured that every federal road connecting Ebonyi State was rehabilitated, some of which are concrete pavement. So, we now have about 1500 number state roads, including the satellite town, metropolis and across the rural communities.
With 16 high class flyovers, unprecedented construction of 1,500km road networks, unimaginable urban renewal scheme, magical Ring Road, huge initiatives and innovations that distinguished Umahi as a trailblazer.
“If what I saw and witnessed in Ebonyi State is not a revolution then I need to be educated on what revolution is all about. And if a non-oil producing State like Ebonyi and one of the least States that collect funds from the Federation account could achieve all these, then something is totally wrong with governance of most oil producing and richer States.”
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